When cats and kittens encounter infection for the first time, their immune system will try to protect them. Unfortunately, your cat may become ill while its immune system is trying to learn how to do this. Vaccines contain weakened or dead forms of the relevant viruses and, following vaccination, your cat’s immune system will generate a protective response. This teaches the system, in advance, how to recognise and defend against the infection. This is particularly valuable as some infections can cause incurable diseases. Vaccination does not guarantee one hundred percent protection.
All pets benefit from regular vaccination as this decreases the risk of your pet contracting a disease that is vaccinated against. Please also bear in mind that if we vaccinate our pets, this also helps contribute to so called ‘herd immunity’, leading to a decrease in the potential of these diseases occurring in the cat population as a whole.
Kittens need a primary vaccination course. The first injection is given at 9 weeks of age and a second injection is given 3-4 weeks later. This protection needs to be maintained by an annual booster vaccination to ensure your cat remains protected throughout its life. We will issue you with a vaccination record card, which will be required by boarding catteries. We aim to send you a reminder when it is time for an annual booster. At this appointment, your cat will also receive a thorough health examination and you can discuss any health concerns with the vet. To keep immunity at optimum levels we recommend annual re-vaccination. If the vaccination lapses, a complete two injection primary course will be required.
This disease has been seen much less frequently since vaccines became available. The virus invades intestines and bone marrow leading to sudden and severe bleeding into the gut, resulting in dehydration, shock and damage to the immune system. Young animals suffer from severe bloody diarrhoea with a characteristic offensive smell and may well die within hours of the onset of symptoms.
This is very common and is caused by two major viruses but is often complicated by secondary bacterial infections. Feline Herpes Virus attacks the eyes, mouth and lungs, causing severe symptoms such as fever, eye ulcers and pneumonia. After infection a large number of cats will become lifelong carriers of the virus rather than recovering fully. They may excrete the virus at times of stress or other illness, leading to recurrent bouts of symptoms.
Feline Calci Virus is generally less severe but causes painful ulcers of the mouth and tongue. It can also occasionally be implicated in a much more long term and painful condition where there is severe inflammation of the mouth and gums (gingivitis) making eating difficult.
This virus is one of the main causes of premature death for cats in the UK – there is no cure. Cats are usually infected with this in the first months of life but infection can occur at any time, including adults and unborn kittens. The virus is easily spread via saliva and blood, so can be transmitted to other cats – often following cat bites.
Feline Leukaemia Virus attacks the white blood cells and bone marrow, which weakens the immune system and makes the cat more vulnerable to secondary infections. It also causes anaemia and cancer of the blood, intestine and other parts of the body.
Although this is not routinely needed in the UK, cats need to be vaccinated against rabies prior to travelling abroad. Vaccination can be carried out from 3 months of age.
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