Vaccinations for our feline companions is a very important part of any health care plan for pets and people alike. Vaccines provide your cat with protection against many serious diseases; some that can be fatal and some that can be transmitted to humans.
The following outlines vaccinations we may administer, the diseases they prevent and in some cases our experience of the associated disease here in the GVRD:
- Rabies (3 Year Vaccine): Rabies is a highly fatal virus that causes neuological disease in affected animals. Dogs, cats, bats, skunks, raccoons and many other animals can get this disease. Humans can become infected and die from this disease as well. In British Columbia, the primary source of rabies is bats and we definitely have bats in Vancouver! In 2007 around Maple Ridge, an indoor unvaccinated cat died from Rabies after playing with a rabid bat that flew into the house. Just this year, in July 2014, a bat in Kitsilano tested positive for rabies.
- FVRCP (3 Year Vaccine):
- FVR= Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (Herpes virus): Rhinotracheitis is most severe in young kittens and older cats, and is one of the most serious upper respiratory diseases seen in cats. We see many cats with this disease every year. It is an airborne virus and very contagious. Cats with this infection will present with lethargy, sneezing, coughing, and eye and nasal discharge. Some cats can develop pneumonia and ulcerations in the eye. Often infected cats don't want to eat or drink because the nostrils are plugged and the throat is painful. Dehydration and weight loss occur in almost all cases. This disease is chronic and cats can suffer permanent damage to the eyes and respiratory system. Many cats will require hospitalization, intravenous fluids and intensive care to help them get over the infection.
- C= Feline Calicivirus: Several strains of the Calicivirus exist and can cause a range of diseases, from a mild infection to life-threatening pneumonia. The disease is transmitted by direct contact with an infected cat or object (bowl, cage, brush, blanket etc) that harbours the virus. While we typically see this virus in outdoor cats, indoor cats should be protected too as the disease is so easily spread. Most cats develop lesions in the mouth, nasal passages and conjunctiva (mucous membranes) of the eyes. The early symptoms of Calicivirus include loss of appetite, elevated temperature and lethargy and can progress to sneezing, oral ulcers, and ocular discharge.
- P= Feline Panleukopenia (Distemper): Panleukopenia is a virus that always requires medical attention. This virus suppresses production of the entire white blood cell line in the bone marrow (panleukopenia= "all-white-shortage"). Without white blood cells, cats are completely vulnerable to the virus and other infections. Panleukopenia causes diarrhea, life-threatening dehydration and bacterial infection as the barrier between the body and intestinal bacteria is lost. The death rate from this disease is about 90% in kittens. If a pregnant cat infects her kittens during pregnancy, a special syndrome occurs that results in permanent brain damage.
- Feline Leukemia (Annual Vaccine): We recommend this vaccine for cats that go outdoors. As an adult, cats are vaccinated annually. Viral leukemia is a prevalent, highly transmissible (by direct contact only) and often fatal disease of which there is no cure. Each year we see cats that die from this disease. This virus may express itself in one or a combination of different forms involving various internal systems. Blood cell cancers, bone marrow suppression, and production of tumours involving intestines, kidneys, lymph nodes or other organs are common consequences of the virus. Closely "associated" disease processes include frequent respiratory infections, central nervous system diseases and reproductive problems. Some cats can live with the virus for years and show no symptoms but they can still pass on the virus to other cats.