Vaccination is the process by which we can protect your cat against some of the most serious cat diseases, by giving injections as a kitten and by " topping up " the cover with the all important annual booster. This is also a good opportunity for a full clinical health check.
1) Cat Flu
Flu is a respiratory disease causing conjunctivitis and discharge from the eyes and nose. The mouth can be ulcerated and the cat becomes fevered and depressed. The smell of food is very important to your cat and flu cats often stop eating and drinking completely resulting in rapide weight loss and dehydration. Prompt and aggressive treatment is required to support the animal whilst the cat's defence mechanisms tries to get rid of the virus.
However a sizeable number are left unable to clear the virus and although they appear to recover, they carry the virus for the rest of their lives being potentially infectious to other cats. The carrier tends to exhibit flu symptoms again and again, when under stress or ill for another reason.
Cat flu symptoms are usually as a result of one of two viruses, Rhinotracheitis or Calicivirus. Calicivirus is the most difficult to deal with as there are many strains, most causing flu but others cause joint pain and lameness.
Vaccination is the only preventative measure that we have but even vaccinated cats on occasions show calicivirus symptoms from these more unusual " wild " strains. Research is constantly ongoing to incorporate extra strains within the vaccine.
Calicivirus is one of the major causes of the distressing mouth problem ( stomatitis ) we see in cats. The virus attacks the edges of the gums causing redness and ulcers. This leads to pain when eating and usually a loss of appetitie and weight. Repeated and fastidious dental cleaning combined with long term medications are usually required to help these cats. In extreme cases all the teeth need to be extracted to allow healing of the gums.
This is a dysentry disease characterised by profuse watery and sometimes bloody diarrhoea, vomiting, dehydration and depression. Many affected cats can die within 24 hours.
3) Leukaemia Virus (FeLV)
This is a sinister viral disease which destroys the immune system allowing the cat to fall victim to all sorts of infections and certain tumours. It has been shown that 80% of diagnosed cats succumb to one of the consequences within three years. Cats can contract leukaemia before birth, or from mating or being bitten by infected cats. In addition saliva exchange during mutual grooming in multi cat households can spread the disease over time.
Unfortunately there is another immune destroying virus called Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV). There is, as yet no vaccine against this disease.
We recommend vaccination for all cats as even exclusively indoor cats are at risk of infection, brought in by human visitors.
if your cat goes outdoors or has contact with other cats that do, we recommend a leukaemia vaccine. This gives your cat the full protection that they would need.
Normally we vaccinate kittens from nine weeks of age. In addition we offer a free check up to healthy kittens under the age of vaccination and we can discuss all the routine matters such as feeding, worming, grooming and litter training as well as deciding which vaccination course is most appropriate.
Kittens receive two vaccinations, three weeks apart. Adult cats who have had no vaccines or where their boosters have lapsed receive what we call an " adult starter ". This comprises two injections three weeks apart and this will bring the protection back to the correct level.
As you will have read, vaccination is the only way to protect your pet from these serious or fatal diseases.
Your cat depends upon you abd only you for all his or her needs and this is not limited to feeding, excercise and companionship.
Part of being a responsible guardian is arranging preventative measures such as vaccination and worming as well as seeking help when accident or illness strikes.