The core vaccines for cats in our area are:
- FVRCP - The primary disease this vaccination prevents is Feline Panleukopenia. It has incorrectly been called Feline Distemper since the introduction of the vaccine in the 1950's. It is actually a Parvo virus that attacks cats, and like other parvo viruses it can live months outside the body and can be brought into the house by flies, shoes, and other objects. The disease attacks the lining of the intestine, the bone marrow, and the resulting sepsis is life-threatening. This multivalent vaccine also helps protect your cat from several respiratory viruses.
- Feline Leukemia Virus - This virus, like HIV in people, affects the immune system and resistance to disease, and can cause cancer. This virus only lives minutes to hours outside the body so it isn't as casually contracted as Panleukopenia, but does not require contact with an infected cat to spread. It is considered a core vaccination for all cats for the first few years of their lives. Once they adjust to being indoors and are confirmed 100% indoor and no other cats in the household go outdoors the vaccination can be discontinued. NOTE: If one cat in a multicat household goes outdoors every cat in the house is considered an outdoor cat when it comes to infectious diseases and all cats in the household should be kept up to date on Leukemia virus protection.
- Rabies - Vaccination is required by law. Since we are in a rabies epidemic state the health department treats unvaccinated cats who bite or scratch someone to be a rabies risk and, to determine if the injured person needs to go through the painful rabies exposure treatment, they usually have the cat euthanized, decapitated, and the head sent to the state lab for rabies testing. If the cat has an up to date rabies vaccination a bite or scratch is handled differently, a ten-day quarantine period in your home. Why take a chance with your cat's life?
"But my cat is an indoor cat. Why does he/she need a rabies vaccination?" A fourteen-year-old girl died in New York from rabies she contracted from their 100% indoor cat. Genetic analysis of the rabies virus determined it originated in a bat.
Cancer and Vaccinations
Standard technology vaccines can cause cancer in some cats. There is a critical additive called an adjuvant in most vaccines. Those vaccines, including the standard rabies vaccines, aren't effective without it. Adjuvants are in human vaccines and in dog vaccines and generally cause no problems. They act as a chronic irritant and stimulate the immune system to respond to the vaccine.
Unfortunately, if a cat's cancer gene is switched on the adjuvant will cause a very aggressive cancer called a sarcoma. And when we say very aggressive, we mean it. One way of measuring the growth rate of cancer is the doubling time, the time it takes for the cancer to double in size or mass. For a reference, breast cancer in people, from the time it is a single cell to the time is it large enough to see on a mammogram, has a doubling time of 1-3 years. The doubling time for cancers caused by adjuvanted vaccines in cats can be as short as 11 hours! This vaccine induced sarcoma can appear up to ten years after a vaccination with standard technology vaccines. The link between adjuvants and feline sarcomas has been proven and the evidence is overwhelming.
We use only the Purevax line of cat vaccines. Using genetic engineering the manufacturer of Purevax has produced an line of advanced feline vaccines that provide excellent protection without the use of an adjuvant. We here at Warwick Animal Hospital never use adjuvanted vaccines in cats!