One of the most significant advances in veterinary medicine has been the development of vaccines for the prevention of many feline diseases. While vaccines have been responsible for the wellness of many hundreds of thousands of cats, their usage is also under scrutiny as concerns about adverse effects and the frequency of vaccination are investigated. Veterinarians no longer think in terms of a standard vaccination program for all cats. It is important to assess the relative risks for each cat, taking into account both individual and environmental factors, in order to make appropriate decisions. Four feline vaccines are designated as essential vaccines due to the serious nature of the diseases and their widespread distribution in the feline population. These core vaccines are: feline panleukopenia virus (distemper), feline calicivirus, feline herpesvirus (rhinotracheitis), and rabies. Several other feline vaccines are available and even more may be available in the future. These non-core vaccines are not appropriate for all feline patients and should only be administered to those at realistic risk of the disease. Vaccination protocols should take into account several factors. The most important areas of risk assessment are the patient, the environment, and the infectious disease in question. Re-vaccination intervals are evolving as products with labeling for longer re-vaccination intervals become available. New technologies, such as transdermal vaccinations, will improve our ability to provide safe and effective vaccinations for cats.
Cat Health Blog