This vaccination series is designed to help protect your pet from several diseases. Booster shots should be given every 3 to 4 weeks until kittens are 3 months old. Adult cats should be vaccinated every 3 years but should have annual physical examination to screen for other illnesses. Vaccinations should be given to all cats even if they are strictly indoors. Recently adopted cats with unknown health histories should also be vaccinated, since it is safer to give an extra vaccine than none at all.
What are Vaccines Designed to Prevent?
UPPER RESPIRATORY INFECTIONS (URI) -includes rhinotracheitis and calicivirus. These highly infectious diseases cause cold-like symptoms and can lead to severe debilitation or even death in young kittens.
PANLEUKOPENIA (Feline Distemper)-a dangerous viral disease that causes severe vomiting, diarrhea, and may suppress the immune system. The disease is often fatal, even with treatment.
RABIES-a serious public health concern because the virus is carried by mammals including raccoons, skunks, foxes, bats, dogs, and cats and can be transmitted to humans. A raccoon-rabies outbreak currently exists in the Northeast. The virus is spread through wounds, via the saliva of a rabid animal, and causes neurologic symptoms such as overly vicious or timid behavior, lack of coordination, and difficulty swallowing. Once these symptoms appear, the disease is fatal. While there is an effective post-exposure treatment for humans, none exists for animals. An unvaccinated cat that is exposed to rabies must be destroyed or quarantined for 6 months under strict guidelines. A vaccinated cat is well protected from contracting rabies.
Rabies immunization in dogs and cats is required by law in Massachusetts. Even cats that stay indoors must be vaccinated, since they can get out, or a rabid animal can get in. Kittens should have their first rabies vaccine at 3 months, with boosters given one year later and then every 3 years.
FELINE LEUKEMIA (FelV)-A viral disease that suppresses the immune system and may result in cancer or other serious diseases. Although the vaccine is not 100 percent effective, it should be strongly considered for all outdoor cats, cats in multiple-cat households, and cats that have frequent contact with other cats (e.g., show cats, cat-teries). All new kittens and cats should be tested for this virus.
What about Other Preventative Measures?
FELINE IMMUNODEFICIENCY VIRUS (FIV)-FIV, first identified in 1986, can cause chronic illness by interfering with the immune system. Cats may carry the virus for years before showing any signs. Presently there is no vaccine available for the virus. We recommend that all new kittens and cats be tested for this virus.
NEUTERING-due to the serious pet-overpopulation problem in the United States, neutering of males and females is strongly recommended. Sterilized animals are less prone to many medical problems commonly affecting older animals, and neutering may prevent undesirable behavioral traits such as spraying and fighting. We recommend neutering 4 and 6 months of age, but it can be performed as early as 8 weeks.
INTERNAL PARASITES- most cats will suffer from intestinal worms at one time in their lives. Kittens are especially at risk. Remember to bring a stool sample with you each time you bring your pet to the veterinarian.