Feline vaccination is
Animal vaccination is the Immunization, immunisation of a domestic, livestock or wild animal. The practice is connected to veterinary medicine. The first animal vaccine invented was for chicken cholera in 1879 by Louis Pasteur. The production of s ...
The cat (''Felis catus'') is a domestic species of small carnivorous mammal. It is the only domesticated species in the family Felidae and is commonly referred to as the domestic cat or house cat to distinguish it from the wild members of ...
plays a vital role in protecting cats from infectious disease
s, some of which are potentially fatal. They can be exposed to these diseases from their environment, other pets, or even humans.
Principles guiding vaccination recommendations
The practice of recommending and giving vaccine
s on a fixed schedule with annual boosters has been widely discarded. Current recommendations are based on the philosophy of vaccinating each cat no more frequently than necessary. These recommendations take into account considerations for the efficacy and duration of immunity (DOI)
of available vaccines; environmental risks and likelihood of exposure; the specific needs and risks associated with age and overall health status of different cats and cat populations; and socioeconomic limitations.
Recommendation vary for:
* Owned pets (and based on "inside only", "in and out", or "out only")
* Boarding facilities (or animals going into them)
A feral cat or a stray cat is an unowned domestic cat (''Felis catus'') that lives outdoors and avoids human contact: it does not allow itself to be handled or touched, and usually remains hidden from humans. Feral cats may breed over dozens ...
** Community cats
** TNR (
Trap–neuter–return (TNR), also known as trap–neuter–release, is a controversial method that attempts to manage populations of feral cats. The process involves live-trapping the cats, having them neutered, ear-tipped for identification, and ...
Specific consideration may be required for:
* Travel plans
* Underlying disease conditions of the specific cat
*Pregnant or lactating/nursing cats
*Multi-cat households or kitten foster homes
Core vs non-core vaccines
Core vaccines are ones that are considered "essential for health" and are recommended for both indoor and outdoor owned domestic cats, as well as community and feral cats. These include:
''Carnivore protoparvovirus 1'' (CPPV 1) is a species of parvovirus that infects carnivorans. It causes a highly contagious disease in both dogs and cats separately. The disease is generally divided into two major genogroups: CPV-1 containing the ...
(FPV or FPLV, aka feline parvo or feline distemper)
Feline viral rhinotracheitis
Feline viral rhinotracheitis (FVR) is an upper respiratory or pulmonary infection of cats caused by ''Felid alphaherpesvirus 1'' (FeHV-1), of the family '' Herpesviridae''. It is also commonly referred to as feline influenza, feline coryza, and ...
(FHV, aka herpes virus)
''Feline calicivirus'' (FCV) is a virus of the family ''Caliciviridae'' that causes disease in cats. It is one of the two important viral causes of respiratory infection in cats, the other being '' Felid alphaherpesvirus 1''. FCV can be isolat ...
Rabies is a viral disease that causes encephalitis in humans and other mammals. Early symptoms can include fever and tingling at the site of exposure. These symptoms are followed by one or more of the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, vi ...
(where the disease is endemic or required by law)
Non-core vaccines are recommended only for cats at risk of specific infection. These include:
Feline leukemia virus
Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) is a retrovirus that infects cats. FeLV can be transmitted from infected cats when the transfer of saliva or nasal secretions is involved. If not defeated by the animal's immune system, the virus weakens the cat's im ...
* Feline immunodeficiency virus
* '' Chlamydia felis
* '' Bordetella bronchiseptica
Schedules for vaccinations
National, international, and global vaccination guidelines by professional veterinary advisory boards are regularly updated and available for on-line viewing or download. These include:
World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA): Guidelines for the vaccination of dogs and catsAmerican Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) Feline Vaccination Advisory Panel Report: Feline Vaccination Guidelines
European Advisory Board of Cat Diseases (ABCD): Vaccines and VaccinationsUK: The National Office of Animal Health (NOAH): Vaccination for animal health
These guides provide recommendations for kittens and adult cats. They include initial requirements to establish adequate levels of acquired immunity, along with renewal (booster) recommendations to retain it. For some infectious diseases, blood samples can be used to measure antibody levels (titers) to determine DOI.
Though these tests do not provide evidence of protective immunity, some clinicians use high titer results as an indicator, along with low disease exposure risk that vaccines might be administered at a longer than usual revaccination interval.
Types of vaccines
Numerous types and brands of commercial vaccines are available to induce acquired immunity. These include:
virus (MLV or "infectious") non adjuvated
* MLV adjuvated
virus ("non-infectious") adjuvated
* Killed virus non adjuvated.
Combination vaccines that provide protection against several common viruses are also available.
Selection or use of a specific type/brand of vaccine may vary depending on the overall risk of viral infection to the specific animal in its environment, along with considerations for the time it takes to confer protection, its overall efficacy, the animal's health, and the potential risks associated with MLV vs killed, adjuvated vs non adjuvated, intranasal/ocular vs injection.
Administration of vaccines
The laws as to who may acquire and give vaccines varies in different countries. Some may only be acquired and given by a licensed veterinarian, others by owners or caretakers.
The vaccine delivery method/route may vary. They may be given by injection, dermal application, or nasal/ocular application. Injection routes may be intra-muscular (IM) or subcutaneous (SQ). The specific injection site may vary depending on the type of vaccine (MLV vs killed) being given.
Reactions to vaccines
Vaccines must undergo safety trials to receive licensing and are considered very safe. A very small percentage of animals may have an adverse reaction. All advisory boards mentioned above strongly endorse the view that the benefits far outweigh the risks of not vaccinating an animal.
After vaccinations are administered, cats may experience mild and short-lived reactions such as poor appetite, lethargy, and fever. Any symptoms that persist for more than a day or two should be discussed with a veterinarian.
Sometimes, for injected vaccines, a small, non-painful lump may form at the site where the vaccine was injected which usually disappears within four weeks.
Adverse (abnormal) reactions
An adverse event (AE) is any untoward medical occurrence in a patient or clinical investigation subject administered a pharmaceutical product and which does not necessarily have a causal relationship with this treatment. An adverse event can ther ...
include any injury caused by the vaccine.
Rarely, a cat will have an allergic reaction to a vaccine. This may include facial itchiness, or be a generalized allergic reaction that includes vomiting, diarrhea, breathing difficulties, and extremely rarely, collapse. Should any of these occur, contact your veterinarian immediately. Anaphylactic reactions are rarely fatal if treated in a timely fashion. If an allergic reaction occurs, future vaccinations may be amended by type or preceded by an allergy medicine.
Another uncommon reaction is the development of a vaccine-associated fibrosarcoma
, a tumor at the injection site that develops months or years after vaccination.
Adverse events should be reported, whether their association with vaccination is recognized or only suspected. Veterinarians are encouraged to report any clinically significant adverse event occurring during or after administration of any licensed vaccine.
The report, identifying the product, batch, animal and reaction involved, should be submitted to the manufacturer of the vaccine and to the appropriate regulatory agency.