Vaccinations of cats: what they fight and how often to get them

What are the mandatory cat health vaccines and what do they fight? This is why it is important to vaccinate and respect the frequency of boosters.

Why vaccinate a cat? Simply to strengthen his immune system and make him less vulnerable to infection and disease. A bad habit that is spreading is that of vaccinating only cats that live outdoors and not those who usually stay indoors. Another mistaken belief is to believe that the vaccine is more dangerous than the disease, some even think that it is better to vaccinate the feline when it reaches 5-6 months of age: the disease may have already taken hold. The best period varies depending on the cat: we must distinguish between a newborn cat and another whose history we ignore. Here is more detailed information on when to get vaccinations and what they are for.

When to vaccinate the cat

When we choose to adopt a stray, perhaps an adult, of which we do not know the historical clinical picture, it is advisable to examine the FeLV (Feline Leukemia Virus) before carrying out the vaccination. If the test is negative, you can proceed with the vaccination with a booster every three weeks.

In the case of a newborn cat, there is no need to hurry as the mother’s milk guarantees perfect coverage: the maternal colostrum constitutes the feeding of the newborn cat and is rich in antibodies. From the seventh week, however, maternal nourishment begins to run low and it is at that moment that it is necessary to proceed with vaccinations. The right age for the first vaccinations is therefore around 2-3 months, with a booster 2-4 weeks after the first.

It is essential to evaluate the state of health of the cat BEFORE carrying out vaccinations: in an already debilitated cat, vaccination can only worsen his condition. Furthermore, factors such as the age of the cat, the environment and the area in which it lives should not be underestimated. In the case of trips abroad or even small trips, it is important to bring an updated vaccination booklet with you to guarantee the veterinarian always a more complete overview.

Core and Non Core vaccinations

The guidelines of the WSAVA, the World Veterinary Organization for Small Animals, have made it clear which vaccinations are Core, the ones highly recommended because they fight life-threatening diseases.

The name ‘trivalent‘ indicates three types of mandatory vaccines, which fight the ‘underlying diseases’ that could affect a cat. These are intramuscular or subcutaneous injections that fight the following pathologies: rhinotracheitis, calicivirosis and viral gastroenteritis.

Rhinotracheitis: disease caused by the Felid Herpes virus, which in less severe cases causes fatigue and depression and discharge from the nose and eyes. In the most serious cases it can compromise the respiratory faculties, conjunctivitis and sialorrhea (abundant salivation).

Calicivirus infection: purely respiratory disease affecting the airways. In addition to rhinotracheitis-like symptoms such as nosebleed and conjunctivitis, in severe cases it can lead to lethal pneumonia.

Panleukopenia: Viral disease causing diarrhea, nausea and vomiting and in worst cases high fever, septic shock and death.

Non Core vaccines, i.e. non-mandatory, include less serious diseases such as Feline Viral Leukemia and Rabies. Other useful but not necessary vaccinations are those against Coronavirus and Feline Infectious Peritonitis.

Other useful information on vaccines

Many refuse to vaccinate their felines due to the danger of developing injection sarcoma: it is a disease that could occur years later and is by no means a certain risk. It can only affect genetically predisposed cats: a cat subject to this type of tumor, however, can develop a sarcoma of this type with any type of injection.

Providing the vaccine yourself puts your cat at risk: an experienced veterinarian will carry out a thorough examination before possibly administering the vaccine to the feline. You need to be sure that the cat is able to withstand the consequences of vaccination and that it does not already have any disease in progress. Making the vaccine purchased at the pharmacy can also be risky because we do not know well the method of storage of the medicine, and we could unconsciously change its composition.

The cost of the vaccine varies depending on the type, protocol and veterinary fees required.

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