Vet Tech Insights: Are Vaccines Really Necessary? The second part
Disclaimer: I will write this series based on my years in the veterinary industry and my experience as a registered veterinary technician. I am NOT a veterinarian, nor should any of my writing or advice be used in place of a veterinarian. Contact your local vet as every clinic, hospital, and vet does things differently. It’s always nice to have a second point of view, but ‘Internet’ and ‘Dr. Google ‘does not replace your vet. If you find something on the Internet that you consider relevant to your pet, it is always good to consult its sources and, above all, TO CONSULT YOUR OWN VETERINARIAN. This series is intended to be educational to teach people more about the veterinary needs of their pets, but always check with your veterinarian before starting or changing any form of treatment. Thank you!
Okay, now we move on to cats … Again, we’ll briefly cover all of them, and remember that some will depend on your lifestyle and risk of exposure.
Also, again a lot of vaccine information can be obtained from your vet, and there are many websites that can provide you with more detailed information, such as pets.webmd.com or peteducation.com. This will just go over the basics and explain why they are important.
FVRCP – This is a basic vaccine that is highly recommended for all cats, regardless of whether they are indoors or outdoors. It stands for feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, and panleukopenia. Some places will take it with an additional C, which stands for Chlamydophila.
The first two are airborne viruses that are transmitted through nasal secretions. Usually through nose-to-nose contact, but some indoor cats can catch it from an outdoor cat through a door or window. This presents as an upper respiratory infection; so sneezing and / or runny nose. The most important part of a stuffy-nosed cat is making sure it keeps eating / drinking. Cats don’t eat anything they can’t smell. Both are treatable, but the cat should be monitored for secondary infection. In addition, the cat can continue to carry the virus; RVF can sometimes flare up in times of stress, which means that the cat can transmit the virus to other people, while Calicivirus the cat will be contagious for the rest of its life. Calicivirus can also become severe, requiring hospitalization to combat fever and dehydration, and possibly vomiting or diarrhea.
Panleukopenia is very similar to parvovirus in dogs. Thus, it causes bloody diarrhea and vomiting and severe dehydration, just to begin with. Spread through infected feces, it also lasts for years in the environment. It requires isolation and hospitalization of the kitten while intravenous fluids and other supportive care are given. So yes, you guessed it, it is a nasty virus that requires expensive treatment.
Chlamydophila: another virus that presents as an upper respiratory infection
This vaccine is given to kittens at 8 weeks of age and boosted every 3-4 weeks until 16 weeks of age. Adult cats should get it every 1-3 years. It is available in injectable and intranasal forms.
So is it really necessary? Well, you could roll the dice with an Upper Respiratory Infection, but like DAPP, a $ 20-30 vaccine could save you A LOT of heartache down the road, considering that your cat will continue to shed the virus for the rest of her life, causing her to another cat you come in contact with is at risk
FELV – There is some debate as to whether it is a fundamental vaccine. This means feline leukemia virus and it will seriously weaken the immune system. It may not kill your cat, but it will weaken their immune system and some cats will succumb to a secondary infection. We call this the ‘love’ virus because it is most commonly secreted in saliva. So, mutual grooming between cats can transmit the virus. Also nose to nose contact and shared food / water dishes. He also bites wounds from fighting with an infected cat. Other rarer but likely forms of transmission include blood, urine, and feces, primarily bodily fluids. It can also be transmitted from the mother cat to her litter.
So is it necessary? If your cat is okay with staying home, you can probably skip it, but do so at your own risk. If your cat likes to wander around to do a thorough perimeter check and hit local cats for a game of street football, or if you have cats approaching the screen door and there is nose-to-nose contact, probably a good idea. Get this, but as always, talk to your vet first.