Vaccinations for Cats

At Tuggeranong Veterinary Hospital we have the following vaccines available for cats: Feline Rhinotracheitis Virus, Feline Calicivirus, Feline Panleukopenia Virus and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus.  Additional vaccinations can be made available upon request.

Feline Rhinotracheitis Virus infects the respiratory system hence its other name is “Cat Flu”.  Signs of infection include coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, conjunctivitis, fever and anorexia.  The virus sheds in nasal and ocular secretions and spreads by direct contact and contact with contaminated surfaces.  Being a herpesvirus it  lays dominant in nerves and may shed intermittently under stressful situations or with corticosteroid use.  The infection also has long term effects on the cornea causing eye ulcers, chronic conjunctivitis and sequestra (cores of dead tissue).  It can also cause chronic blockage of the nasolacrimal duct, causing excess tearing and may predispose cats to lifelong nasal and sinus bacterial infections. 

Feline Calicivirus also causes “Cat Flu” symptoms but may cause severe disease in some cats.  A particularly virulent strain has emerged recently causing fever, anorexia, lameness, oral ulcers, coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, conjunctivitis, breathing difficulty, facial and limb swelling, foot ulcers, jaundice, bleeding tendencies and sudden death.  There is no specific treatment, only good supportive care.  

Feline Panleukopenia Virus causes a severe gastroenteritis and is related to canine parvovirus.  Like canine parvovirus the feline panleukopenia virus attacks the intestinal lining, lymph nodes and bone marrow suppressing the immune system and causing severe diarrhoea and vomiting.

Tuggeranong Veterinary Hospital recommends kittens are vaccinated at 6-8 weeks, 10-12 weeks and 16 weeks off age.  Adults are vaccinated at 18 months of age and then every year.   The World Small Animal Veterinary Association and Australian Veterinary Association have recognised Feline Rhinotracheitis Virus, Feline Calicivirus and Feline Panleukopenia Virus as  core vaccines.  The combined vaccine to cover all three diseases is called a F3 Vaccination.  The World Small Animal Veterinary Association and Australian Veterinary Association have designated feline rhinotracheitis, feline calicivirus and feline panleukopenia as core diseases for vaccination purposes and recommends vaccination every year.  Given that these diseases are highly infectious Boarding Catteries will not admit cats not vaccinated for these diseases.  

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus can cause Feline Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome predisposing infected cats leading to a wide range of other infections. Some infected cats can go through their lives with minimal effects. The virus affects the cat’s immune system, so eventually the cats may develop chronic infections, ill-thrift and various other effects related to a deficient immune system. These diseases may eventually overwhelm their immune system.  Feline Immunodeficiency Virus is not transmissible to humans. The main method of transmission between cats is through cats fighting, as the virus is shed in the saliva of infected cats and it is inoculated into other cats when they are bitten. So, outside cats that get cat bite wounds are those most at risk.

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus has been designated a non-core vaccination.  Non-core vaccines are those that should be recommended to at-risk animals only given they cause disease less severe than the life threatening core vaccinations protect against.  

Cats are at risk if they fight with other cats so your vet may recommend vaccination if they are kept outside. Vaccination for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus involves a series of 3 vaccinations given 2-4 weeks apart, followed by single yearly boosters. Older cats require an FIV test first and have to be microchipped as they will test positive for FIV once vaccinated. Due to the incomplete nature of protection offered by the vaccine, as well as issues related to testing, there has been considerable debate, even among cat specialists, about the advisability of vaccinating for FIV at this point. Your vet will discuss your cat’s level of risk with you.

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