First a quick reference guide
- Feline Enteritis
- Cat Flu
- Feline Leukaemia
- Feline AIDS
Cats and kittens are at risk of infection from numerous viruses. Most of these diseases are potentially fatal, and treatment can be very difficult with no guarantee of success. A simple vaccination program can protect them from most of these diseases and it is the most cost-effective way of protecting your cat.
Kittens are temporarily protected against many diseases by antibodies received from the mother through the milk. These maternal antibodies decline over the first couple of months of their lives, but until they drop sufficiently they can neutralise the effect of vaccines.
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A series of vaccinations is necessary for kittens. These vaccines need to be given at certain ages.
Initial vaccination programs should begin when the kitten is six to eight weeks old. From then they will require a booster four to six weeks later (10-12 weeks old) and then again four weeks later (14-16 weeks old). It won’t be until two weeks after the third lot of injections will they have maximum protection, so until then they should be quarantined inside. That is why a series of vaccinations is necessary for kittens and the vaccines need to be given at a certain age.
If adult cats haven’t had a vaccination for at least two years then they should have two lots of vaccination injections four weeks apart to build up to maximum protection again.
Occasionally after the vaccination is given, pets may be off-colour for a day or two, or have some slight swelling or tenderness at the injection site. Access to food and water and a comfortable place to rest is all that is needed for a quick recovery, but if you have any concerns please contact us.
Immunity from vaccinations reduces over time and your cat can again become more susceptible to disease. Regular health checks and booster vaccinations will provide the best protection for the life of your cat.
We vaccinate your cat against the following diseases:
Feline Enteritis (Also known as Feline Panleukopaenia)
Very contagious and with a high death rate, especially for cats aged under 12 months. Pregnant cats may lose their young or give birth to kittens with abnormalities, quite often with brain damage. Symptoms are depression, neurological signs, loss of appetite, uncontrollable vomiting and diarrhoea, often with blood, and severe abdominal pain.
The virus spreads so easily that contaminated areas may need cleaning with special disinfectant. Cats that do recover may continue to carry the virus for some time and infect other cats.
Feline Respiratory Disease (Cat Flu)
Cat Flu is caused in 90% of cases by feline herpes virus (feline rhinotracheitis) and/or feline calicivirus. It is spread through contact with affected or unvaccinated cats. Cat flu affects cats of all ages, especially kittens, Siamese and Burmese cats. It is highly contagious and causes sneezing, coughing, fever, conjunctivitis, swelling around the eyes, runny eyes, nasal discharge, loss of appetite and tongue ulcers.
Fortunately, the death rate is low, except in kittens, but the disease is distressing and may persist for weeks. Recovered cats can continue to carry and spread the infection for long periods, and can show the signs of the disease again if they become stressed.
Feline Chlamydia causes severe persistent conjunctivitis in up to 30% of cats. Kittens are more severely affected by Chlamydia when also infected with Cat Flu. Chlamydia can be shed for several months. Vaccination against Cat Flu and Chlamydia helps protect against clinical disease.
Feline Leukaemia (FeLV)
This extremely serious virus attacks the immune system, causing increased susceptibility to other infections such as leukaemia and tumours. It may cause lack of appetite, weight loss and apathy. It also affects bone marrow, causing pale (anaemia) or yellow mucous membranes. Other symptoms include vomiting, diarrhoea and reproductive problems. Many cats may be infected and show no signs at all.
About one third of infected cats will remain chronically infected and may shed the virus in their saliva. Spread of the disease can be by cat fight bites, licking, shared dishes or litter trays. Pregnant infected cats can also infect kittens through the placenta, and after birth through the milk.
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV or Feline AIDS)
FIV is a serious disease that attacks the immune system of cats. It is spread from cat to cat usually by bite wounds. It is more common in male cats because they are more aggressive and roam more than females.
Cats can be infected for years and not show any signs at all. Symptoms vary widely because of the immunosuppressive nature of the virus. Cats may show lack of appetite, inflamed mouth, weight loss and apathy, fever, swollen lymph nodes, respiratory infection, inflamed eyes, pale (anaemia) or yellow mucous membranes, vomiting, diarrhoea, reproductive problems, increased susceptibility to other infections, neurological signs, leukaemia and tumours.
Once a cat has become infected it is infected for life, but if managed in some cases the cat can still have good quality of life for months to years.
Vaccination will only work when given before the cat is exposed to FIV and is the only way to protect your cat from AIDS.
As kittens, three vaccines are required, four weeks apart then annually. For adult cats, the vet will need to discuss with you the best plan for your cat, the first step being to ensure your cat is free from FIV.
FIV is diagnosed with a blood test. Cats other than indoor or kittens need to be tested for the virus prior to the vaccination.
The only way to prevent a cat being infected with FIV is through ongoing vaccinations.
When can I let my kitten outdoors?
Kittens are not fully protected until two weeks after the final course of vaccinations. Until then kittens should be kept indoors at all times. Once your kitten is old enough to go outside, there are a few key recommendations:
Supervise their first outings. Aim to introduce them to the world for a few minutes a day, close to meal time
Train them to walk on a cat harness.
Ensure they have a curfew – i.e. inside before dark (fewer fights, lower chance of being hit by cars, reduced loss of wildlife).
Provide ‘smart’ toys for indoor-only cats, or build an outdoor play atrium. A cat scratching post will help save furniture.