All You Wanted To Know About Vaccinations

Well it’s Pet Health month isn’t it? We’s written ‘bout da dental health and spayin’ and neuterin’, and so now we thought we’d give ya’ da 411 on vaccinations. Lots of controversy ‘bout this subject and we’s not gunna put an end to it; but we’s gunna try to purrsent da facts. And of course we’ll give ya’ sum opinions too. Ya’ might member last year when mommy and da VET had a disagreement ‘bout sis Lexi getting da Rabies vaccination, and mommy insistin’ on havin’ a Titer test done to purrove she didn’t need it specially since me had gotten so sick afterwards. They never agreed on what to do, but sissy does have anti-bodies and since she has da CKD and mommy’s makin’ da decisions, she didn’t get vaccinated. Now, cuz we’s cats, we are gunna be coverin’ da Feline Vaccinations. However we do know lots of our readers have doggies as well, so keep in mind dat da recommended vaccination schedule and even sum of da core vaccines are da same fur doggies. Ifin you want more infurmation about Canine Vaccinations click here. And cuz this is such a purrtant subject da followin’ will be in Human speak. So let’s get started.

Dezi close up on arm of chair

Let’s start with explaining what a vaccine is. A vaccine can contain recombinant, modified live, or dead attributes of a virus or disease. When introduced into the host body (us cats) it helps build anti-bodies to fight off the disease if exposed. As with any medical procedure there are risks involved in vaccinating. An uncommon but serious side effect of vaccinations is a tumor or growth at the injection site. This is known as FISS, Feline Injection Site Sarcoma. Typically manufacturers state that vaccinations should be given yearly, and quite a few VETs blindly follow those recommendations. However, studies have proven that the protection provided by the vaccines last longer than a year. But before we move on let me explain the difference in the three types of vaccinations.

Dead or InactiveVaccines contain killed or inactive pathogens of the disease and are therefore considered the safest vaccine. Altho’ the inclusion of  stabilizers and preservatives have been known to cause both acute and delayed adverse reactions.

Modified Live Vaccines contain intact pathogens that have been modified to provoke an immune response without actually causing the disease. All intranasal and some injectable vaccines contain Modified Live pathogens. In general these are the preferred vaccines as they stimulate immunity faster and longer.

Recombinant Vaccines are made up of certain genetic sequences of a live pathogenic virus combined with the DNA of a live non-pathogenic virus that can be given as a vaccine.

All of these vaccinations are available on the market, but may not be available at all clinics. If you are concerned with which type of vaccine is being given to your pet, you should ask your VET. Mommy insists on Inactive Vaccines when possible and our VET has to special order them because he carries the Modified Live. A fact he didn’t know until mommy asked. His initial response was, “I don’t know what kind of vaccines I give, no one’s ever asked. But surely they are dead.” We found both those statements to be very sad. Just because nobody had ever asked doesn’t mean he shouldn’t have known what he was injecting into his patients. Of course that wasn’t good enough for mommy, she made him check. He has changed some of his vaccines to the Inactive now.

Lexi mearloafs on the floor while holding a new nip toy

We would be remiss if we didn’t include the fact that a Task Force was formed to study and give recommendations regarding the vaccination schedule for felines due to the adverse effects of vaccines being reported. That being said, the task force recommended that vaccinations shouldn’t be given just because it’s been a year since the last one. The risk factors and lifestyle of the cat in question should also be taken into consideration. Such as age, other health issues, environment, infectious agents and exposure. An inside only cat is at less risk for most diseases than those who go outside or live in a multi cat household. If you board your cat, you may be required to give additional vaccines that wouldn’t normally be necessary. Vaccines should be given to a healthy animal especially when using Modified Live or Recombinant vaccines.


Now that we’ve covered the types of vaccines let’s talk about the actual vaccines. They are grouped into 2 basic types, Core and Non Core. In the State of Oklahoma and many other places there is also the Required by law rabies vaccine.

The Core Vaccines are:

Panleukopenia:  Also known as Feline Distemper and is caused by the feline Parvovirus. The virus can remain contagious in litter boxes, cages and bowls for months to years. Infection comes from a cat eating the live virus. Recent studies have shown that the Canine Parvovirus can be contagious to cats as well. The only protection from this disease is the vaccination. The vaccine is available in both the intra-nasal and injectable. The injectable is more effective at preventing the disease. Kittens should receive their first vaccination at 12 weeks with boosters at 16 weeks, and one year. And then no more frequently than every 3 years.


Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis and Feline Calcivirus:  Most infectious upper respiratory diseases in cats are caused by the feline herpesvirus or calcivirus. These are transmitted from cat to cat by nose to nose contact or from objects such as food and water dishes. Most otherwise healthy cats will get over these on their own. But others can develop a chronic infection. These cats will have times when they appear totally healthy until they are stressed. At which time they will exhibit signs of the disease such as sneezing, runny eyes and nose. Infected cats will shed the disease for months up to a year and can therefore be a source of infection for others. These vaccines are available in intra-nasal, conjunctival (applied in eye) and injectable. The vaccine ‘Does NOT’ prevent the disease, but will lessen the effects. The injectable vaccine produces the least amount of adverse side effects. Vaccinations should be administered at 8 weeks with a booster at 16 weeks and one year later. Low risk cats should then receive boosters every 3 years. 


Rabies:  Rabies is mainly transmitted through the bite of an infected animal. Altho the infection can come from any fluid exchange with an open wound from species to species. Rabies is rare in rodents, but can be found in large populations of bats, skunks and other animals. Cats are relatively resistant to rabies but can be a potential source of infection for humans. There is no real treatment for rabies in cats; therefore it is highly recommended that cats be vaccinated. Again, this is the one vaccine that is mandatory by law in our State and many others. The Recombinant Vaccine offers protection with the lowest percentage of side effects. It is recommended that kittens receive the killed or recombinant vaccine at 12 to 16 weeks of age and then yearly boosters unless you are using the 3 year vaccine. Check your local laws regarding what is acceptable.


Feline Leukemia:  Feline Leukemia can be transmitted by saliva, nasal discharge, biting, and/or sharing food and water dishes. It can also be transmitted by a mother to her kittens in utero or through her milk. Kittens under 16 weeks of age and cats living in  catteries or large households where the virus is present or who go outside are at the highest risk and vaccination is recommended after a blood test. A blood test is performed before vaccinating because a vaccinated cat will test positive. There are potentially serious side effects associated with this vaccine. They can include local swelling or pain, lethargy, fever, post vaccination granuloma (benign lump) and most seriously, Vaccine Associated Sarcomas. A Sarcoma is a mass comprised of cancerous cells that can migrate from the injection site to other connective tissue, muscles and bone. Even with treatments and surgical removal their have been cat deaths associated with vaccination Sarcomas. That being said, vaccine manufacturers have made many strides towards safer vaccines in latter years. Vaccination Sarcomas are rare in comparison to the risk of infection of Feline Leukemia. Vaccination is recommended at 8 to 12 weeks with a booster at 16 weeks an then yearly.


So, those are the Core vaccines. With any adult cat of unknown origin, all Core vaccinations should be given immediately.


Non Core Vaccines:

Chlamydiosis:  Chlamydia Psittaci is a bacteria affecting the eyes and respiratory tracts. It is easily cured with appropriate antibiotics.


Feline Infectious Peritonitis:  FIP is caused by Feline Coronavirus. It is more common in crowded, overpopulated, dirty conditions and cats who become infected rarely survive. The vaccine currently available has been studied and shows no proof that it indeed offers any protection.


Dermatophytosis:  In plain English that means Ringworm. Ringworm is caused by a fungus and can be easily treated. The current vaccine has not proven to offer protection.


Bordatella Bronchiseptica:  This bacteria infects the respiratory tract and is most often resolved on it’s own in an otherwise healthy animal.


Giardia:  Giardia is a protozoan parasite that attacks the intestinal tract. Infection usually comes from drinking contaminated water. The vaccine hasn’t shown evidence of offering any protection.


Feline Immunodeficiency Virus:  FIV is highly contagious and testing is recommended before introducing any new cat to the home. FIV is often referred to as Feline AIDS because it weakens the cats immune system. There is NO CURE for FIV. However, FIV positive cats can lead an otherwise normal happy life but care must be taken if they are sharing their home with FIV negative cats. Cats should be tested prior to vaccination because they will test positive after the vaccination. It should also be noted if a cat has been negative and vaccinated because of the false positive results that will show up in the future. The current vaccine has no studies to prove that it is effective.

Dezi laying on the vanity

Well if that isn’t information overload me doesn’t know what is. But we wanted to be thorough and fair in purrsentin’ the facts. Now fur some opinions. We’ve been asked a lot how we feel or what we think about vaccinations and if there are any we think are more important than others. And mommy’s opinion has changed over the years. You know way back when she followed the advice of the manufacturers and VETs she was a yearly vaccinator of all available. Yep, she even had one kitty vaccinated for Ringworm when he was 16 weeks old. He never got ringworm, but he also was never exposed. With the onset of studies and increased knowledge, and looking for a more natural approach, mommy no longer believes in vaccinating every year. We believe it’s very important to have all new kittens vaccinated with the Core Vaccines according to the schedule of 8 to 12 weeks, 16 weeks, and one year as well as spayed or neutered by 7 months. We also think it’s very important to have all adult cats of unknown origin vaccinated with all the Core Vaccines as soon as possible as well as spayed or neutered if necessary. We believe that vaccines should only be given to healthy animals thus mommys disagreement with our VET over sis Lexi getting vaccinated. If Fido or fluffy has a cold, wait a week or two. If they have a chronic ailment like sissy with the CKD, talk with your VET. Hopefully you have a better one than us and won’t be arguing over it.

Lexi lays on the floor playing with a new nip toy 2-24-16
Ain’t I a cutie?

Yes there are risks involved in vaccinating, but the diseases they help prevent are awful and unnecessary. As we said early on, Vaccines last longer than the one year manufacturers’ list. So after the initial yearly booster, we are vaccinated every third to fourth year with Panleukopenia. We are vaccinated against Rabies every 3 years but only because it’s required by law. Being Service Cats we do go into the public, but are protected from outside influences because we are in a covered stroller which doesn’t interfere with our duties for mommy. We are indoor only cats who are not exposed to other diseases or infectious pathogens and we initially tested negative for contagious diseases. Mommy does like to repeat the tests for a total of 2 times before initial vaccinations. Kittens can be tested as young as 6 weeks of age. We were both tested at 6 weeks and 9 weeks and then given our first round of vaccinations. For all older cats and cats with chronic ailments, we highly suggest talking with your VET about your cats lifestyle and what vaccinations may or may not be necessary. And there is always a Titer test available if antibodies are in question.

Dezi laying with her tummy exposed on the floor
Me knows you wanna rub me’s floofy belly, don’cha’!?

We are cats. We don’t like to go to the VETs and we don’t like to be poked and prodded. But it is up to our humans to do what is best fur us whether we like it or not. Even if you choose not to vaccinate your pet, it is still necessary to have them examined at least once a year. We do recommend single vaccinations. It means more sticking but if your animal has any adverse reactions at least you’ll know which vaccination caused it. And if your pet has any side effects to vaccinations they should be reported to your VET and the vaccine manufacturer immediately. So there ya’ have it. We hope we’ve maybe cleared up some of the confusion you might have been having about vaccinations. If you have any questions, of course you may leave them in the comments and we’ll try to find an answer for you. Or you can check out the many articles online. There’s a great PDF put together by the Feline Vaccination Advisory Panel here. Me’s tired now, so me’s gunna go take a nap. And since mommy had to do all da typin’ fur me, she’s tired too. We’ll be by to visit ya’ as soon as we rest up a bit.


How often do you vaccinate your pets?

Do you know what type of vaccine your VET uses?

Are you worried about the side effects of vaccinations?


Till da next time………………………………………….Be Blest!!!


Luv and Hugs and Kitty Kisses

Dezi and Lexi 


37 thoughts on “All You Wanted To Know About Vaccinations

  1. The FVRCP vaccine (and the individual vaccines for those diseases) actually have been proven to last at least five years and they are coming up on the seven year mark. Many virologists believe that the vaccine confers life long immunity.

    My youngest cat had a rabies vaccine when he was a kitten and hasn’t had another. I recently spent nearly $200 to titre test him – the only way to prove a vaccine worked in an animal other than doing a challenge – and his titres were well above the protected range.

    I have spent a great deal of time considering vaccines, since I have cats of unknown history in my house all the time. I have chosen, and continue to choose (as I reserve the right to change my mind) to stop vaccinating and trust the initial vaccine did its job.

    Having cared for a cat that passed from VAS (aka FISS) I am highly concerned about over vaccination, and I am at the point where I would rather attempt to treat the disease than lose another cat because of something I gave them. Maybe that is foolish of me, but that is the evil I can live with.

    I am not anti-vaccine.. I am anti-‘oh don’t worry about it, it is safe and just because we’ve never really studied long term effects of vaccinating on a regular basis is no need to be concerned”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Amen. Mommy sed you hit da nail on da head. Unfurtunately me has to continue to get da rabies shot cuz of where we live and Vet ignorance and inability to change. But all vaccinations other than dat are ones mommy dusn’t regularly give to us. We are so sorry fur your loss. We hate dat any kitty shuld have to pay with their life cuz of a vaccination and ignnorance of peeps includin Vets and money hungry industry. Fanks fur postin’ your views fur da benefit of our readers.

      Luv ya’

      Dezi and Lexi


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