Vaccination against feline viral rhinotracheitis or feline herpes virus, calici virus, and panleukopenia protects your cat from the two top upper respiratory viruses, and a virus that can destroy a cat’s immune system as well as cause permanent damage to the cerebellum in a kitten. It is considered a core vaccine, and ideally should be administered to kittens at 8, 12, and 16 weeks of age, boostered at 16 months, and given every three years after that. The controversy over vaccine-associated sarcomas (VAS) in cats has been linked to adjuvanted vaccines, so I resource only non-adjuvanted vaccines for my patients.
Rabies is 100% fatal. There is no treatment and no cure. Even an indoor-only cat has the potential for exposure if a sick bat manages to slip into your house (which has happened.) That being said, I was also lukewarm about vaccinating my cats against rabies until I learned the other benefit of keeping my kitties vaccinated, and that has to do with having a cat that bites someone. Even the sweetest, most even-tempered cat has his or her limits, and the bite of an unvaccinated or under-vaccinated cat leaves the guardian open to anything from a mandatory 10-day hold for observation in a veterinary hospital, to forcing the guardian to euthanize the cat so its head can be sent in for rabies testing – a thought so gruesome that I keep my cats vaccinated. Rabies is considered a core vaccine for this reason. I recommend giving it at 20 weeks of age, boostering at 17 months, and then every three years after that. The controversy over vaccine-associated sarcomas (VAS) in cats has been linked to adjuvanted vaccines, so I resource only non-adjuvanted vaccines for my patients.
Vaccination against feline leukemia virus (FeLV) is considered a lifestyle option, not a core vaccine. It’s effectiveness has been in question since it first came to market, but the reduction in the incidence of feline leukemia is undeniable. FeLV vaccination is recommended for cats that are indoor-outdoor or outdoor-only, and cats that live in large groups, such as a cattery, rescue, or shelter. Cats that are actively being shown at cat shows should also be vaccinated. For most cats, I recommend vaccinating at 24 and 28 weeks, and then boostering annually thereafter. Show kittens should be vaccinated two weeks prior to attending their first cat show. The controversy over vaccine-associated sarcomas (VAS) in cats has been linked to adjuvanted vaccines, so I resource only non-adjuvanted vaccines for my patients.
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