Cat Flu Vaccination

Cat flu is the term used for respiratory illnesses caused by viral infections. Since most respiratory diseases are contagious in nature, cat flu occurs in most pets that are unvaccinated, or pets with weak immune systems. Commonly known respiratory illnesses that affect cats include feline herpes virus-1 and feline calicivirus. Cats cured of the disease become carriers and shed the virus in the environment during times of stress. Due to this reason, it's important to start vaccinating pets as early as 6 weeks of age, particularly if the pet is lodged frequently at boarding facilities.

Cat Vaccines

Vaccines are available as both killed vaccines or modified live vaccines that prepare the immune system to fight dangerous and contagious illnesses in the future. They may be administered as injections or nasal drops. Since kittens have low immune system function, it's best to vaccinate them to ward off respiratory diseases that lead to pneumonia. Vaccines are usually administered as a series of shots that require follow up booster doses once a year. The vaccine for feline calicivirus is often administered every 3 years after the first series of shots are given. Although vaccines don't provide complete protection from viral infections, they do help to fight viruses to a great extent.

Adverse Reactions

Several pet owners choose not to vaccinate pets due to the risk associated with vaccination. Vaccine associated sarcoma (VAS) is one such reaction, which results in tumors or growths at the injection site. However, the risk of contracting respiratory illness far outweighs the risk associated with vaccines, and hence vaccination is considered necessary. Other adverse reactions include hypersensitivity to ingredients present in the vaccine and redness or soreness at the injection site. Pet owners should administer core vaccines to all pets, regardless of the breed. Non-core vaccines are administered to those pets at greater risk of developing other health conditions.

Core Vaccines for Cats Include:

Types of Vaccines

Since modified live vaccines provide stronger protection from diseases, they aren't recommended for use in pets suffering from underlying health concerns or weak immune systems. Killed vaccines contain adjuvants and require booster shots to increase effectiveness. However, research suggests that adjuvants are associated with VAS in pets. Vaccines are also available as combination doses that contain vaccines for two or more diseases. Cat vaccines should be administered carefully to avoid contact with the pet's eyes and mouth. Vaccines formulated for use as intranasal drops are safer for use in small kittens.

Upper Respiratory Diseases in Cats

Felines suffering from cat flu or upper respiratory infections should be kept in a warm environment. They should be given prescribed medication on time and should be prevented from roaming outdoors. Chronic feline herpes virus is treated with drugs such as lysine. Pets severely ill due to respiratory illness require supportive care to help them recuperate.

Since individual pet concerns vary, it's necessary to schedule a vet check and talk with the vet about vaccines necessary for individual pets. Pet owners should also take preventive measures to keep healthy cats away from viral infections.