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Vaccination is a hot topic in the pet as well as the human world. The World Health Organisation named ‘vaccine hesitancy’ (the reluctance or refusal to be vaccinated) as one of the top 10 health threats in 2019, and the World Veterinary Association deemed vaccination such an important topic, they made it the theme of 2019’s World Veterinary Day.

Vaccination is essential to protect our feline friends from a range of potentially life-threatening and often easily contractible diseases. And the PDSA’s Animal Wellbeing Report for 2019 suggests keeping up to date with vaccination protocol is perhaps more vital now than ever. In their 2019 survey of over 5000 pet-owning adults, they identified an 18% drop over the last 3 years in vaccination of young cats, dogs and rabbits. Primary vaccination courses in kittens had actually fallen from over 80% to 61% for this time period, and their statistics show 41% of adult cats do not receive regular boosters.

A drop in vaccination rates means a decrease in herd immunity (where a sufficiently high proportion of the population is immune to keep a disease at bay). Without herd immunity, we’re likely to see a rise in unpleasant diseases that high vaccination rates would ordinarily keep at bay. This means without vaccination your cats are more at risk!

What vaccination programme do we offer?

Our vaccine choice is Versifel/ Leukocell and this protects against feline infectious enteritis, feline herpes virus, feline calicivirus and feline leukaemia virus*.

Kittens require two injections 3 to 4 weeks apart. We recommend starting a kitten course at 12 weeks of age, the second injection taking place at 16 weeks old. Immunity is from 3 weeks after the second injection, when you’ll be able to let your feline friend out.

Adult cats require an annual booster to ensure immunity and that vaccine protection does not lapse. We follow World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) and Advisory Board of Cat Diseases (ABCD) guidelines which recommend administering the leukaemia part of the vaccine every other year from year 3 onwards.

Even if your cat remains indoors, they can still be susceptible to vaccine-preventable disease. Ask to speak to one of our team for advice.

*Diseases covered by vaccination

Feline infectious enteritis: a highly contagious nasty feline parvo virus. Spread by direct faecal-oral contact and indirectly following contamination of the environment or objects. It can remain in the environment for some time. Symptoms include lethargy, bloody diarrhoea and vomiting, fever and depression. Mortality rate is high, particularly in unvaccinated kittens. Preventable by vaccination.

Feline herpes virus: a debilitating, contagious virus which is part of the cat flu complex. Readily transmitted by cats through airborne droplets and direct contact, shared food and water bowls and contaminated environment. Typical signs include discharge from the eyes and nose, sneezing, fever, loss of appetite, drooling, painful throat, lethargy and sometimes coughing. Relapses possible: symptoms and contagion can recur and cats can develop recurrent eye ulcers. Vaccination greatly reduces the clinical severity of the disease.

Feline Calicivirus: an unpleasant highly contagious virus which is part of the cat flu complex and is transmitted in the same way as feline herpes virus. Some symptoms shared with feline herpes, but in addition can include tongue ulceration, joint swelling causing limping, and gum and mouth pain from gingivitis and inflammation of the tissues in the mouth and throat. Vaccination greatly reduces clinical symptoms of the disease.

Feline Leukaemia virus (FelV): contagious through bodily secretions, this can be passed between cats living in close proximity or through mutual grooming or by getting bitten by an infected cat. FelV is ultimately fatal. Vaccination offers a valuable level of protection for your cat.

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