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Aside from dogs, cats are the most popular pet in the United States. They are social, friendly (most of the time), hilarious, and even sometimes help us out with pest control, such as hunting for mice and other pests around the house and farm. Another reason that cats are popular is they usually do not make as much “noise” as some dogs can, and most of the time they do not leave the house unless you have an indoor/outdoor kitty. Cats take up less living space than dogs and are the animal of choice for smaller houses and apartments most of the time.  They are also considered relatively “lower maintenance” than dogs when it comes to medical care as it relates to vaccines.

I understand the subject of vaccines can be very controversial for many cat owners. After all, a lot of cats are indoors, right? Every person has a right to make their own decisions regarding their pet. I really wanted to do the research myself and share my information I found with you, my fellow pet lover so that maybe you then can make an informed decision the next time you go to the vet with your baby.  Sources of where I found the information on the diseases can be found at the end of this post.  Remember, I am just a loving pet parent like the rest of you, I am not a medical professional and therefore this is always a great subject to talk to your Veterinarian about!

The following is what I found about common diseases in cats. The diseases/viruses I covered in this post are:

Feline “Distemper”

The feline “distemper” virus (also called panleukopenia) is a highly contagious disease and is usually life-threatening. The disease is so “hardy” that it can last a year indoors at room temperature (according to veterinarypartner.com).  Infection occurs when the virus enters through the mouth or nose of the cat. The infected cat sheds large amounts of the virus through vomit, urine, saliva, mucus, and diarrhea.  Cats that have recovered from this disease are even considered contagious for six weeks following recovery. The feline “distemper” vaccine is a combined vaccine that also helps kitty with building up immunity for feline rhinotracheitis (also called feline Herpes), and feline calicivirus infections, which are viruses that can cause severe upper respiratory infections.  

Other than the feline distemper vaccine, it doesn’t appear there are any other vaccinations recommended for “ALL” cats, other than the rabies vaccine.

Rabies Virus: Deadly to Dogs, Cats, and Humans!

Rabies can arguably be the most well-known and well-feared infection in animals, and it can be transmittable to humans.  Infection of this disease is from direct contact with mucous membranes of the infected animal. Usually, this means a bite from an infected animal. If an animal (or human) is infected with the rabies virus, they will not survive.  In all states, dogs and cats are legally required to have a rabies vaccination on a regular basis (every 1-3 years).  Wildlife such as raccoons, foxes, coyotes, and bats can have this virus and transmit it to people or our beloved pets by a simple bite.  The rabies virus can take 3-8 weeks after contact with an infected animal to show any signs or symptoms. If an animal is infected with rabies and starts to show symptoms, within 3-5 days there will be a change in behavior from “normal” for that animal to timid, shy, and then aggressive as they start to experience fear and hallucinations. This is the point where most of the transmission occurs, is the animal biting at this stage.  Although most cats (especially indoor cats) can be considered at lower risk for encountering an animal that has been infected with the rabies virus, it is still a public health concern and therefore is a required vaccination.

Feline Leukemia- Vaccinate Depending on Your Cat’s Lifestyle

Kittens should definitely be tested for Feline Leukemia.

Feline leukemia virus is the cause of more cat deaths than any other disease. Transmission of this disease is from close social contact, mainly with contact with saliva from infected cats.  The virus can also be spread through blood, urine, feces, nasal secretions, and milk.  Cats that share food and water dishes, use the same litterbox, groom or bite each other can transmit Leukemia. Kittens nursing from an infected mother cat can also get the virus. For indoor/outdoor kitties, the Leukemia vaccination is recommended, with the idea that they could encounter another Cat that is infected by this virus. Feline leukemia has a wide range of effects upon cats, and I encourage anyone concerned about this to ask their veterinarian for more information.

Vaccine Reactions

My veterinarian informed me that “vaccine reactions” are rare, but can always be a possibility with any pet, just like in humans.  Signs to watch out for in a vaccine reaction would be vomiting, diarrhea, or swelling at the vaccine site.  I’m told that It’s important to let your veterinarian know if your cat experiences any of these signs as there can be ways to help lessen or even prevent the vaccine reaction from happening in the future.  In very rare cases, cats can develop a lump at the vaccination site and this should be checked out by the veterinarian

Do Your Homework

All this information was not meant to scare anyone! At the very least, I hope you found this information helpful and informative for you to make an educated decision on giving your kitty vaccinations. I understand and respect that everyone has their own opinions on vaccinations, and I appreciate hearing all points of view on the subject.  My article or my strong opinions stated are strictly my opinions only and are not meant to replace the advice of your Veterinarian, who is a professional. I am NOT a Veterinarian, and I highly respect their opinions! If you have any concerns regarding vaccinating your Cat, I encourage you to talk with your veterinarian or a pet care professional.

All the information I found regarding these diseases was found on Veterinarypartner.com, which was a great resource and really helped me understand each disease!  This website is a great resource for anything related to illnesses in pets, I recommend you check it out yourself for more information on what I wrote about!   The specific articles I summarized my information from were:

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