Vaccinations are often the primary reason why a pet is brought to the veterinarian. At the Animal Hospital of Chetek and Animal Hospital North we hope to break that tradition. We hope our clients will bring us their pets to keep them healthy and to discuss what their pets need. We strongly believe that there is no one size fits all approach to vaccinations. Vaccines are best prescribed based on lifestyle, age, and risk. The following vaccines are what we generally recommend, but the needs of your pet may alter these protocols.
Which vaccinations are right for my cat?
Feline Panleukopenia: Feline panleukopenia (also known as feline distemper) is caused by the feline parvovirus. This highly contagious virus can survive for years in food dishes, cages, and other inanimate objects. Cats become infected when they ingest the virus orally. Because the virus is microscopic, there is no way to know if your cat will encounter it.
1. Vaccinating for this virus will provide your cat with nearly 100% immunity.
2. Cats that contract this virus may experience fever, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, loss of balance, and even death.
3. Vaccination is highly recommended for all cats at 8 weeks of age followed by a booster at 12 and 16 weeks of age, then again in one year, then no more frequently then every three years dependent on their lifestyle.
Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (Feline Herpes Virus) and Feline Calicivirus: These two viruses cause the vast majority of upper respiratory infections in cats. These viruses are transmitted from cat to cat through nose-to-nose contact or by inanimate objects such as food bowls, and cat toys. Most cats will develop a runny nose and sound congested when they have these diseases, some may even develop watery/runny eyes, while others may get to the point where breathing becomes difficult and they may even die.
1. Most cats will recover from these diseases with proper veterinary care.
2. Some of those cats will become lifelong carriers of the viruses. These cats will appear healthy most of the time, but will show signs of the diseases when they become stressed (new cat in the house, new owner, etc?). Persistently infected cats will also shed the virus for months to year, and therefore can act as a source of infection for other cats.
3. Vaccines designed for these viruses do not offer 100% protection. They are intended to decrease the severity of the disease.
4. The Animal Hospital of Chetek and Animal Hospital North combine these vaccines with the feline panleukopenia vaccine, and therefore the same vaccination protocol is followed.
Rabies Virus: Rabies is a 100% fatal disease in humans once signs appear. It is mainly transmitted through the bite wounds of infected mammals, but it may also be transmitted via scratches, or if the saliva of an infected animal makes contact with open skin. In Wisconsin rabies is mostly carried by bats, skunks, and cows (which usually contract the disease when they are bitten by bats or skunks), but foxes, raccoons, dogs, and cats are also known carriers.
1. Wisconsin state law does not require cats to be rabies vaccinated. However, if your cat is not vaccinated for rabies and it happens to bite someone, your cat may be quarantined for 10 days at your expense, or your cat may be humanely euthanized and its head will be submitted for rabies testing. If your cat is not vaccinated and is bitten by a wild animal it will need to be quarantined in your home for 180 days.
2. Because of the dangers rabies posses to humans, it IS NOT an optional vaccination at the Animal Hospital of Chetek and Animal Hospital North. We will not board, or perform surgeries on any animal that is not rabies vaccinated (unless they have a documented allergy to the vaccination).
3. The Rabies vaccine will be given between 12 and 16 weeks of age, boostered at 1 years of age, then once every 3 years after that. For those concerned about vaccine induced sarcomas, we also offer a non-adjuvanted vaccine; however, that vaccine must be boostered yearly.
Feline Leukemia Virus: The feline leukemia virus (FeLV) can infect cats by saliva, nasal discharge, biting, or sharing food and water dishes. FeLV can also be transmitted from a mother cat to her kittens while they are still in the uterus or in the milk while they are nursing. The virus attacks the white blood cells that fight off infections. This means that FeLV infected cats may die from a wide variety of illnesses they otherwise would have recovered from.
1. Kittens under16 weeks of age, outdoor cats, and cats living amongst infected cats are the most susceptible to this virus. Because young cats are so susceptible to the disease it is recommended that all kittens receive the initial vaccination series.
2. We recommend that all cats are tested for FeLV infection before initial vaccination. This is because there is no point in vaccinating a cat that already has FeLV, and if a cat is positive for FeLV we will need to discuss options to keep it from infecting other cats.
3. We recommend that all kittens receive an FeLV vaccination at 8 and 12 weeks of age followed by a booster one year later. The vaccine may or may not be boostered after that depending on the exposure risk of individual cats.
Other Vaccines: There are several other vaccines available, but they are generally not recommended for most cats. If you feel your cat requires additional vaccinations feel free to discuss it at your next visit.