A vaccination is an injection given to your cat that contains a deactivated, or killed, form of a disease, often called a virus.
Once injected, the vaccine is recognized as an invader by the pet's immune system, which immediately begins manufacturing proteins called antibodies, designed to destroy that specific type of invader. Once made, these antibodies remain in the cat's system, guarding against future infections.
There are a number of deadly contagious diseases that infect, sicken, and kill thousands of cats and kittens every year, particularly felines allowed to go outdoors and those spending time in shelters and catteries. The good news is that you can effectively protect your cat or kitten from most of these killers simply by allowing your veterinarian to vaccinate your furry friend at the appropriate time.
It gets complicated
Once upon a time, vets routinely vaccinated cats every year against a wide variety of illnesses. But it's not that simple anymore. Some vaccines have been known to cause problems, including skin cancers, at the site of the vaccination. And others simply haven't been proven to convey immunity against disease effectively.
Moving away from the "one protocol fits all" idea of feline vaccinations, a report released late in 2000 by the American Association of Feline Practitioners and Academy of Feline Medicine Panel on Feline Vaccinations says each cat's vaccination needs should be evaluated individually, based on the cat's age, health, and circumstances. In other words, you and your vet need to sit down every year and discuss your cat's circumstances and then decide how best to proceed with your cat's vaccinations.
Another common practice that the report discourages is the use of polyvalent vaccines (that is, a single shot that contains the vaccine for more than one illness), other than those containing combinations of FPV, FHV-1, and FCV (more on these in a moment), because these combination vaccines "may force practitioners to administer vaccine antigens not needed by the patient". In addition, the panel concluded that "as the number of antigens in a vaccine increases, so too does the probability of associated adverse events".
The report also made some specific recommendations for vaccines, which I will summarize for you in the following sections.
Excerpted from The K.I.S.S. Guide to Cat Care by Steve Duno
Copyright 2001 by Steve Duno.
Excerpted by permission of Dorling Kindersley Publishing Inc.
All rights reserved.
No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.