It is often thought that because cats are so independent that they can look after themselves, but in fact a cat needs as much care and attention as a human being. He is prone to a number of serious diseases and conditions and it is extremely important that in recognising your responsibilities as a cat owner you also take on the responsibility of having him vaccinated from as young an age as possible and for the rest of this life with annual booster injections.
Anyone who has seen a cat in pain and distress because of a condition that could have been prevented by adequate care will understand why vets are so keen to promote feline veterinary supervision and widespread vaccination for all cats so as to prevent not only the development of disease but to limit the effect of infection on unborn or newly born kittens. Even though kittens inherit a certain amount of immunity from their mother they are still prey to the ravages of these serious illnesses from other cats or from ferals in the area.
You will often find that if you want to put your cat in a cattery he will not be allowed to go there if he doesn’t have a record of vaccination history. This is not only to protect him but to protect the other cats also. Even cats who have been vaccinated can sometimes contract a variant of the disease and the less risk there is to the cattery as a whole the better.
If you are considering travelling with your pet you will need to carry all available documentation concerning your pet’s health and vaccination record, and you may need to show evidence of feline veterinarian treatment including deworming schedules. Restrictions on pet travel are tough especially in Europe and without these proofs of health your pet may have to be quarantined for up to six months, so check with your travel agency well before your journey to make sure you have all the documentation you need.
The four main cat vaccines a cat can have from the age of nine weeks are the following:
Feline infectious enterovirus (FIE, also known as the feline panleukopaenia virus).
Feline herpesvirus (otherwise known as feline calcivirus, or cat flu). Veterinarians typically use a combined vaccine known as FVRCP (feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, and panleukopenia) to protect cats from FVR and FCV.
Feline leukaemia. A vet will test a cat’s blood to see if there is already an immunity built up from previous contact, and if the test shows negative i.e. there has been no contact and therefore no immunity built up the cat should be vaccinated.
Feline chlamydophila, which causes conjunctivitis. Again your cat may already have built up an immunity so your vet can check for antibodies in the bloodstream and vaccinate if the test comes back negative to previous contact.
You should also ask your vet if a rabies shot is advisable, particularly if there is contact with feral cats in the neighbourhood or he tends to get into scraps. A rabies shot is a requirement if you are traveling to Europe.
Kittens should be vaccinated from the age of nine weeks. They are then vaccinated again at 12 weeks, and then go on to a programme of annual booster injections.