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Why vaccinate your cat?

The answer is simple; vaccinating is the best way to protect your cat against many serious diseases. Diseases such as feline herpes, calcivirus, feline panleukopenia virus and leukaemia virus can be prevented with a simple vaccine.

And as we vets – and owners – know, when it comes to caring for your cat, prevention is better than cure.

Feline panleukopenia

 Also known as FPV, this virus is highly contagious and can cause serious diarrhoea and vomiting. Outbreaks of the virus are fairly common in the UK, where many cats go unvaccinated. Unfortunately, FPV can often prove fatal.

Feline herpes and calcivirus

Collectively, these viruses can cause what’s known as ‘cat flu’. Symptoms can include a runny nose and eyes, sneezing and mouth ulcers. In some cases, pneumonia may develop. This disease is particularly serious in young or old cats, or those cats with a poor immune system.

The herpes virus will often infect a cat for the whole of its life – just like in humans – and can lead to recurring eye infections and other flu-like symptoms.

Calcivirus, on the other hand, is linked to severe gingivitis, which can be painful and chronic. Plus, treatment for cats with calcivirus can be expensive.

Leukaemia virus

This is a particularly nasty virus, and cats that catch it can get anaemia, a compromised immune system or tumours, which could prove fatal. It is spread through the saliva, so can be transmitted from kitten to mother, through fighting or from grooming. You can ask your vet to perform a blood test to check your cat for leukaemia, if you’re worried.

Will vaccines harm my cat?

Adverse reactions to vaccines are uncommon. If they do occur, they usually cause minor symptoms, such as an increase in temperature for 24 hours. Occasionally, cats may develop a small lump at the injection site; this usually disappears within a few weeks.

In very rare cases - about 1 in every 20,000 - a cat may develop fibrosarcoma; a type of tumour at the site of injection.

It’s worth bearing in mind that the risk of a serious reaction to a vaccination is far lower than the risk of your cat contracting a fatal disease if left unvaccinated.

Is it possible to over vaccinate my cat?

There has been a lot of controversy around over vaccinating pets recently. Currently, the guidelines state that cats should be vaccinated annually. However, research is being carried out and if it’s discovered that immunity lasts longer than a year, the guidelines will be adjusted accordingly.

As it stands, there’s no evidence to suggest that vaccinating your cat annually will cause them any harm. In fact, vaccinating will benefit your cat’s health by preventing them from contracting potentially fatal diseases.