Some cat sitters are reluctant to vaccinate them, especially in those cases where the cats are home and do not have access to the outdoors. They think that this condition prevents contracting diseases but we will see that vaccines are still essential.
From the first weeks of life and until they are elderly, it is advisable to vaccinate our cat with the vaccines mentioned below.
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What are vaccines?
Vaccines are drugs that are used to fight diseases for which there is no other more effective cure . They are generally administered by injection subcutaneously.
Its mechanism of action is as follows:
- Vaccines are mainly made with virus fragments or with attenuated, that is, weakened viruses.
- When they are inoculated into the cat, their immune system identifies them as pathogens and creates defenses against them .
- If, naturally, that same virus comes into contact with the cat, its body will immediately react against it because it has already formed specific antibodies.
- In this way, the cat’s own immune system manages to control the infection or it occurs in a mild or asymptomatic way.
- The immunity thus produced is usually of limited duration in time.
First vaccination in cat puppies at eight weeks of age
Pregnant cats transmit antibodies to their young through the placenta and continue to pass defenses to them during lactation. These antibodies decrease as the kitten grows until they disappear, around eight weeks. In those initial two months, cats will be protected thanks to maternal antibodies .
Vaccines kick in when it is estimated that these antibodies have disappeared. They cannot be put earlier because interference with the mother’s antibodies would alter their effectiveness. In addition, before vaccinating you always have to deworm internally.
Against what diseases should I vaccinate my cat?
The vaccination schedule for cats must be agreed with the veterinarian and adapted to the cat’s living conditions. The diseases and viruses against which vaccination is recommended are the following:
- Panleukopenia : this is a hemorrhagic gastroenteritis caused by a parvovirus that manifests itself with vomiting and profuse bloody diarrhea. It causes dehydration, anorexia, fever and, in a considerable percentage of cases, death. In addition, survivors can suffer lifelong neurological sequelae. It affects unvaccinated kittens.
- Calicivirus: This virus causes a cold in cats with symptoms such as conjunctivitis, mouth ulcers, fever, runny nose, lameness, or anorexia. It can appear combined with herpesvirus causing rhinotracheitis . In addition, some caliciviruses are especially virulent and can cause a life-threatening condition for the cat quickly.
- Rhinotracheitis: This disease is caused by herpesvirus and calicivirus. Its symptoms are like those of a cold with profuse runny nose and eyes, fever , dehydration, or eye ulcers. If it is treated, it can be cured although, sometimes, damage to the eyes causes such serious injuries that they must be removed. Other cats can even die.
- Leukemia: this disease will affect the cat’s immune system, causing damage that will manifest itself with a variety of symptoms such as anemia or cancer . The cat can perish.
- Rabies: although in many countries it is considered an eradicated disease, in others it is mandatory vaccination. We must inform our veterinarian to know in which case we are. Also if we are going to travel. It is a disease for which there is no treatment. It is deadly.
There is also a vaccine against feline infectious peritonitis or FIP , a disease caused by coronavirus and responsible for considerable mortality, but the percentage of protection it confers is not very high .
Why should we revaccinate our cat?
Often times a single dose will not achieve complete protection, so to achieve the proper antibody level kittens must be revaccinated in doses a month apart. This repetition guarantees them high levels of protection, although in no case is it possible to achieve 100%.
After the kitten stage with all the vaccines, for adult cats, only annual booster doses are needed to maintain the immunity that we have achieved over time.
Do I have to vaccinate my house cat if it does not have access to the outside?
Yes, although the cat cannot leave the house ourselves, without realizing it, we could carry viruses or external parasites home , capable of making the feline sick, in our clothes or in our shoes.
What if I don’t vaccinate my cat, something happens?
When a cat has not been vaccinated and comes into contact with a virus, its body has no defense against it. To create them you need a time that the virus is not going to give it, since it will immediately begin to replicate, developing the disease .
The diseases for which it is vaccinated do not have any specific treatment. They are treated simply by keeping the animal alive by administering fluids and medication to control symptoms while waiting for the immune system to be able to defeat the virus.
But in some of these diseases the mortality rate is very high and even the cats that manage to survive do so with permanent sequelae . The treatments are financially expensive, the cat suffers and, unfortunately, not all cases will have a happy ending.
Therefore, taking into account the scientific data we have, it is currently part of responsible ownership to keep our cats vaccinated. Prevention is always better than cure.
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