Is Cat Vaccination Actually Necessary?
Yes. Vaccines are recommended for all kittens and cats, regardless of breed, size or location. Core vaccines for kittens help protect pets from potentially fatal diseases. When vaccines are injected into the body, your cat's immune system will attack them. If your cat is later exposed to the disease, the immune system will remember the disease and quickly counteract it.
Cat and Kitten Vaccine Types
The core vaccines for cats include Panleukopenia, Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus and Rabies (required by law). Non-core vaccines are reserved for cats with unique exposure risks or needs and include Leukemia, Chlamydia Psittaci, Periodontitis and Bordetella. If any of these diseases are prominent in your area, you may want to consider vaccinating for them.
Kitten and Cat Vaccine Articles
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Cat Vaccine Abbreviations
Cat vaccines come in a variety of combinations and may be identified by abbreviations. Here's a handy guide to help you determine which letters need to be in your vaccines.
"FVR", "H": Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis. This is a contagious disease of the respiratory tract that is caused by the Herpesvirus. Common symptoms include eye ulcers, congestion of the nose and sinuses, fever, and loss of appetite. Cats that are extremely dehydrated or anemic may die from this disease. Even if a cat survives, he will be a carrier of the disease for the rest of his life, so a vaccination for FVR is highly recommended.
"C": Calicivirus. Another contagious respiratory disease, Calicivirus may be difficult to distinguish from other respiratory infections. In addition to other common eye and nasal symptoms, it can also cause ulcers of the mouth or joint and muscle pain. Severe cases may lead to death, especially in young kittens. An infected cat will be a carrier for the rest of his life and continually shed the virus for years.
"P", "FPV", "FP": Feline Panleukopenia. This widespread disease is similar to canine Distemper. Highly contagious, it invades developing cells and corrupts the white blood cells so the cat is unable to fight off infection. Symptoms are sudden and include fever, diarrhea, vomiting, seizures or death, especially in unvaccinated kittens. The only treatment is supportive therapy of the symptoms, so vaccination is important.
"Ch": Chlamydia is the fourth component of 4-way vaccines, though it's not always abbreviated. Often called "cat pink eye," it causes a variety of upper respiratory symptoms such as sneezing, congestion and eye and nasal discharge. Cats living in multi-cat households are more susceptible to the disease, so vaccination is not always necessary for every cat. Talk with your veterinarian for recommendations.
"FeLV", "LVK", "Lv-K": Feline Leukemia Virus. Feline Leukemia is caused by a virus that replicates in the cat's body and attacks the immune system, causing cancers and other immunodeficiencies. Symptoms may include fever, lethargy, diarrhea, or loss of appetite, and eventually death. Vaccination is not necessary for every cat, so check with your veterinarian first.
"Bb": Bordetella bronchiseptica. Bordetella bronchiseptica is a highly contagious respiratory disease that causes inflammation of the trachea and bronchi. Bordetella spreads through direct contact, through the air, and through contaminated objects. Transmission can occur between dogs and cats. Symptoms include coughing, retching, sneezing, and watery nasal discharge.
3: Any vaccine with a 3 in the title contains the Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus and Panleukopenia viruses.
4: Any vaccine with a 4 in the title contains the Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, Panleukopenia and Chlamydia viruses.
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-The Revival Education Team
The materials, information and answers provided through this website are not intended to replace the medical advice or services of a qualified veterinarian or other pet health care professional. Consult your own veterinarian for answers to specific medical questions, including diagnosis, treatment, therapy or medical attention.