It is important to vaccinate your cat, as there are many contractible diseases which can cause serious illness or fatality. The vaccines administered to your cat are dead viruses, which elicit the body’s immune response to produce the proper antibodies against the disease.
Does my indoor need to be vaccinated?
Yes! Indoor cats are just as susceptible to disease as outdoor cats. Not only is there a chance your indoor cat could get outside and be exposed to other animals and pathogens, they could also end up in a shelter, where risk is drastically increased. Some viruses are airborne or can be carried into the home on clothes, shoes and other animals. Cats can also at risk of contracting Rabies from bats or other pests which may enter the home. The common occurrence of lifestyle changes or periods of increased stress can lower the immune system, increasing your cat’s risk of becoming ill. This is an important factor, as there will likely be many changes within your household throughout your cat’s lifetime.
What are the vaccines for cats?
FVRCPC-FLK-R stands for feline Rhinotracheitis-Calicivirus-panleukopenia-coronavirus, feline leukemia and Rabies.
Rhinotracheitis: a respiratory virus which most cats are exposed to, presents with sneezing, runny eyes. Effects can be more severe, compromising the immune system, causing nasal cavity damage and escalating to pneumonia.
Calicivirus: a pathogen which affects the respiratory system and can lead to the development of ulcers, vasculitis and pneumonia. It is transmitted through direct contact, saliva and nasal secretions.
Panleukopenia: a virus similar to distemper, meaning it is highly contagious and symptoms are severe. This virus typically presents with vomiting, diarrhea and can be fatal.
Coronavirus (FIP): also known as feline infectious peritonitis, is a virus shed in feces and can be contracted through inhalation or ingestion. This virus causes fever, lethargy, weight loss and an accumulation of fluid in both the chest and abdominal cavities. This virus progresses fast and is typically fatal.
Feline Leukemia: a virus transmitted through direct contact, bodily fluids, urine and feces. Symptoms include enlarged lymph nodes, weight loss, lethargy, fever and jaundice. This virus is incurable once contracted, severely weaken the immune system and is eventually fatal.
Rabies: a virus which affects the nervous system, is incurable and always fatal. Vaccinating your cat against Rabies is required by law in Ontario.
How often does my cat need to be vaccinated?
Your cat needs to be vaccinated on a yearly basis. If you cat falls behind, they will likely need a booster vaccine four weeks after the initial vaccine to boost the immune system.
Are there risks associated with cat vaccines?
As with any medical procedure, there are risks. However, the risks associated with vaccines are far less than the risk your cat has by not being vaccinated. After being vaccinated, you may notice your cat has a decreased appetite, is a bit lethargic, and has swelling at the injection site. You cat may also spike a small fever, as their body works to create the new antibodies. These side effects should last between one and three days.
More severe reactions are typically a result of an allergic reaction. These include hives, swelling of the eyes/lips/neck, weakness, vomiting and collapse. In this situation, your veterinarian needs to be notified for an evaluation and then will determine if vaccines need to be separated in future or if the risk is too high and your cat should not be vaccinated again.