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Vaccinations - Part I - Cats

We want our kittens and cats to be healthy, happy and content, like our client’s kitty, Zoey, in the photo. And we want them to have the best possible chance of staying that way their entire life.

Vaccinations are an important and sometimes controversial part of our cats’ lives, as more and more vaccinations are available to us and our cats.

When is the best time to vaccinate? Which ones are most important? What about stories we’ve heard about adverse reactions? There are seemingly a million questions. We read almost as many opinions answering each of our questions on the web, in magazines and in newspaper publications.

As an integrative veterinary medicine vet, Dr. Frank is often asked:

Q: What vaccinations do you recommend for my cat?

Dr. Frank: “It depends” is the first answer. My whole answer is “As few as possible, while maintaining the health and safety of your cat”.
What does it depend on? Factors we take into account include:

  • How old is your cat?
    Vaccinations on kittens may be more critical than for a 10 year old cat with a mature, healthy immune system.
  • What is the cat’s previous vaccine history?
    Some vaccines are effective longer than others, so the history of what type of vaccine and how many vaccines have been given in the past helps determine what we might recommend at any given time.
    For kittens, their exact age and the dates prior vaccines were given is more important than the number of vaccines they received. If possible, know your kitten’s birthday. Keeping a detailed history of all vaccines is essential, especially for kittens.
  • Does the cat go outside or is it kept strictly indoors?
    Cats that are never outside may not need some of the vaccines. Cats who travel (like show cats) or are boarded may have different vaccination needs than cats who are always at home, indoors.
  • Are there other pets in the household and what is their health status?
    If other cats in the household have a contagious condition or disease such as feline leukemia, vaccines may be recommended for new cats entering the household that might otherwise not be necessary.
  • What are your personal feelings regarding vaccines?
    Ultimately, as your cat’s caretaker and owner, the decision is up to you. We sincerely respect that. We will inform and advise you of the recommendations for your pet, but you may always choose a different course of action and we will honor that choice.

All of this is discussed during an examination of your cat and a wellness plan will be agreed upon at that time.

Q: What if my cat needs several vaccines, can we do all the vaccines at one time and save a trip?

Dr. Frank: So as not to over-tax your cat’s immune system, I usually advise separating the vaccines by 2-3 weeks. If this is very inconvenient for the owner, the vaccines may be given all at once.

Something to keep in mind is there is no added cost at our clinic to bring in your cat an additional time to separate giving the vaccines. The decision to give the vaccines separately is suggested solely in the best interest of the pet. If you are not one of our clients, you will want to ask your vet their policy.

Q: What if my cat is not feeling well at the time the vaccinations are due?

Dr. Frank: It is not recommended that your cat be vaccinated if he is sick. It is better to treat the illness and wait on the vaccines until your pet is healthy.

Q: Is an examination really necessary if my cat is acting fine?

Dr. Frank: The examination is required prior to vaccinating because it is vitally important that your cat is healthy before proceeding with any vaccination. Your cat may appear as healthy as ever, but a hands-on examination can reveal issues that you are not aware of. The exam and discussion is one of the best ways to help prevent an adverse reaction to a vaccine.

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