What are vaccines?
Vaccines are biological products that activate protective immune responses and prepare your pet to fight future infections from disease causing agents. When vaccinated, your pet's immune system will recognise the invasion of the virus or bacteria and then work to eliminate it from their system.
Is it important to vaccinate?
Yes, pets should be vaccinated to protect them from many highlycontagious and infectious diseases. Due to the regular vaccination of pets over the years the occurrence of infectious diseases has decreased. However, occasionally outbreaks of infectious diseases do occur in Australia and the best form of protection is having your cat fully vaccinated.
Protcetion from vaccination declinesover time and it is advised that you revaccinate your cat annually to ensure immuntiy. This also allows you to maintain regular annual health chceks for your pet.
Why do kittens require a series of vaccinations?
Protective antibodies are transferred to kittens in their mothers milk (this is called natural immunity), howeverthis wears off over time leaving the kittens susceptible to infection. These maternal antibodies may also interfere with vaccines. Therefore, it is recommended to have a seriesof vaccinations 3-
It is important to minimise contact between your kitten and other cats until the series of vaccinations has been completed-
What diseases should I routinely vaccinate my cat against?
It is important to discuss with your vet your kittens lifestyle. This includes the extent of contact with other animals, time spent outdoors versus indoors, staying in catteries or boarding kennels ect as these factors affect your pets risk's of exposure to disease. It is these factors that will infulence the type of vaccine program required for your cat.
The main infectious diseases that affect cats in Australia are;
•A severe and highly contagious disease that affects cats of all ages but is most severe in kittens and cats under 12months of age.
•Transmitted by direct contact with infected cats as the diseasecan be shed from all body secretions, particularly faeces. The disease can also be spread via infected cat's litter tray, cage and food bowls.
•Trasmission from infected queens to kittens during pregnancy can also occur.
•Death can occur, particularly in kittens, when there is a severe decline in the white blood cells and severe dehydration.
•The virus may persist in recovered cats and kittens, who appear healthy for up to a year during which time these cats will shed the virus into the environment and infect other cats.
Feline Respiratory Disease (Cat Flu)
•A highly contagious disease for cats of all ages. This disease complex is almost always caused by one of two viruses, called Feline Calicivirus and Feline Rhinotrachetitis virus
•Calicivirus and Rhinotracheitis virus are spread through direct contact with saliva, discharge from the eyes and nose, and sometimes feaces of an infected cat.
•Symptoms include sneezing or coughing, fever, runny nose and eyes, loss of appetite and tunge ulcers. Secondary bacterial infections may also cause complications.
•In young kittens who are susceptible to infection, severe respiratory disease associated with a bronchopneumonia may develop and be fatal.
•These viruses persist in recovered cats and kittens for several years (possibly for life) during which time those cats will shed the virus into the environment and infect other cats.
Feline Leukaemia Virus -
•FeLV is an important cause of tumors, anemia, suppression of the immune system and immune mediated diseases in cats. Kittens younger than 8weeks of age are the most susceptible to infection with the exception of those born to immunised mothers.
•Following exposure, some cats are able to mount an immune response and eliminate the virus, however some cats can remain persistenly infected.
•Persistanly infected cats shed the FeLV virus in secretionsand represent the most important source of the feline leukaemia virus. These secretions include saliva, tears, urine and nasal secretions. The disease is commonly spread by mutual grooming, biting and fighting, sneezing or throught the communal use of feeding bowls or toys. FeLV may also be transmitted from infected queens to their kittens in-
•FeLV infection does not cause clinical signs, however a secondary disease may develop largely due to the immune suppressing affects of FeLV.
•Cats at greatest risk are outdoor cats, cats living in open multi-
•Death can occur as quickly as 3 moths or take as long as 3 years. Most feline leukaemia virus related deaths are due to the severe immune suppression caused by FeLV and development of secondary diseases.
Feline AIDS -
Feline AIDS is caused by infection with feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). FIV causes a potentially fatal viral disease that interferes with the immune system of a cat.
The virus lives in the blood of the infected cat and is carried in its system throughout its life.
Healthy cats contract the infection through being bitten by a FIV positive cat.
Cats infected with FIV may remain healthy for a number of years. While some infected cats show no sign of disease, others may display initial symptoms such as;
•loss of appetite
•swollen lymph nodes
As the disease progresses, syptoms such as
•Sores in and around mouth
Eventuall the immune system becomes too weak to fight off other infections or diseases. As a result, the cat will die from one of these subsequent infections.
How is the Infection contracted?
FIV is spread from cat to cat primarily through bite wounds, the virus being shed in high levels through saliva. Outdoor cats are at greater risk of contracting the disease. The spread of FIV through water bowls or grooming is unlikely.
Although rare, it is possible for a mother to pass the infection on to her unborn foetus.
How Prevalent is FIV in Australia?
It is reported that between 14% and 29% of cats in Australia test positive to the disease.
There is no treatment or cure for an FIV infected cat. However a vaccine is available that can aid in the prevention of infection with FIV.
FIV vaccination guidelines
Those cats presented at 8 weeks or older require 3 doses of the the vaccine at 2-