Prevention is Better Than Cure is the motto of my university, the RVC, and is a motto I live and work by. Considering health and well-being throughout our companions lives, results in happier pets who live for longer (as well as saving us money!) There are many steps we can take toward this goal, highlighted in this column, to improve your little friends quality of life! Following on from last seasons focus on canine vaccinations, this time we are looking how we vaccinate our cats and rabbits!
The core vaccinations (recommended for all cats) protect against Feline Rhinotracheitis (also known as Feline Herpes Virus) and Feline Calicivirus. These two viruses are responsible for a complex known as Feline Respiratory Disease Complex. These viruses, together or alone, can cause inflammation of the nasal and sinus linings, conjunctivitis, fever, excessive tear production, salivation and mouth sores. There is no cure for either of these viruses, and once recovered from the initial infection, may lay latent in the immune system until a time of stress, when symptoms are likely to recur.
We also routinely vaccinate all cats against Feline Panleukopenia Virus, which is a highly contagious and often fatal disease of cats. The disease is most commonly seen in cats <1 year of age (but can be seen in cats of any age), and may cause death with little or no warning. Cats often develop a fever, depression and stop eating. They may also vomit or develop diarrhoea.
We also recommend vaccinating again Feline Leukaemia Virus for all cats who have contact with other cats (multi-cat household and outdoor cats). This is because the virus is passed between cats in saliva, during mutual grooming, sharing of food dishes or litter trays and during cat fights. Cats infected with leukaemia virus can develop anaemia, cancer of the lymph nodes or leukaemia, suppression of the immune system (increasing their risk of other infections), severe inflammation of the mouth and problems reproducing.
Our vaccination protocol for cats is a primary course of two injections (3-4 weeks apart) followed by yearly boosters. Injections may be given in the back of the neck, or underneath the skin on one of the cats hind limbs. We will also perform a general health check on your animal each year at their vaccination consultation.
In <1% of vaccinations of cats, we see side effects, most of which are mild and temporary (usually lethargy with or without a fever) which subside without treatment. However, if you do have any concerns about your animal post-vaccination, please do give us a call and let us know.
All rabbits (indoor and outdoor) should be vaccinated against Myxomatosis and Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease (RHD). There are two strains of RHD, and for this reason, rabbits must receive two vaccinations each year at least 2 weeks apart. Both cause death fairly rapidly after infection and are rarely treatable. Myxomatosis is also a fatal disease which causes blindness and in-appetence – some rabbits will die within 48 hours of showing signs of illness.
All of these disease are preventable, annual vaccinations are a critical part of maintaining good health in your fluffy friend. If you have any further questions about vaccination, please feel free to discuss them with a vet, nurse, or member of the reception team.
Written by Jazzmin.