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There are an estimated 10.5 million cats in the UK, with 24% of the UK population owning a cat1

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26% of cats have never been vaccinated, that’s 2.7 million unvaccinated cats!1

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…And 38% are thought not to be up to date with their boosters that’s 3.9 million cats1

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60% of cat owners want more information on vaccination2

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WHY VACCINATE YOUR CAT?

Syringe_illo Caring cat owners want their cats to be happy and healthy throughout their lives. One easy and important way to help achieve this is to regularly vaccinate your cats to help cover them against certain infectious diseases, some of which are very difficult to treat and can be fatal. The diseases that cats are most commonly vaccinated against are:
Key Points
  • Severe disease of cats – now less common thanks to vaccination
  • The virus is resistant to many disinfectants and may survive in the environment for months
  • Kittens most susceptible
  • Any aged cat may be infected
How is it spread?
  • Can be spread via shoes or clothing (indirect transmission) so indoor cats are at risk
  • Infection also occurs through direct contact
Symptoms
  • Bloody diarrhoea with a strong, offensive smell
  • Severe dehydration
  • Death can occur quickly – even before clinical signs are seen3
  • Suppresses the immune system causing the cat to become susceptible to other infections (often bacterial)
Key Points
  • FeLV infection is now reduced thanks to successful vaccination programmes6
  • Young kittens are particularly susceptible
  • Infected cats may not show any signs for months or even years7
How is it spread?
  • Cats are infected when grooming each other, sharing food bowls and litter trays and through biting
Symptoms
  • Attacks the immune system
  • Makes the cat vulnerable to secondary infections
  • Also reduces the number of red blood cells and causes cancer of the blood, intestines and other parts of the body
  • Most persistently infected cats die within 2-3 years7
  • Only early vaccination and regular boosters can help to protect your cat from the virus
Feline herpes virus (FHV)
Key Points
  • Vaccination reduces the severity of signs but cannot completely prevent infection
  • Feline herpesvirus remains dormant after recovery, and most cats become lifelong carriers4
How is it spread?
  • When carrier cats are stressed or ill, the virus may re-activate and infect other cats
  • Infection occurs through direct contact
  • The virus is excreted in fluids from the mouth, eyes and nose
Symptoms
  • Sneezing, discharge from the nose
  • Pneumonia
  • Fever and depression
  • Eye ulcers
Feline Calicivirus (FCV)
Key Points
  • There are many strains, so it is possible for infection and mild disease to occur in a vaccinated animal
  • Resistant to many disinfectants and may survive in the environment for about a month5
How is it spread?
  • Infection usually occurs through direct contact (but indirect transmission can occur – ie. spread via shoes or clothing)
Symptoms
  • Painful ulcers of the mouth and tongue
  • Sneezing, discharge from the nose
  • Fever
  • In rare cases, a much more severe and often fatal form of FCV infection may occur
Key Points
  • Bacterial infection
  • Does not survive in the environment
  • Mostly occurs in cats <1year
How is it spread?
  • Requires close contact with an infected cat, bacteria are shed in discharge from the eyes
Symptoms
  • Conjunctivitis (inflammation of the lining of the eye) and watery discharge from the eye
  • Temporary fever, poor appetite and weight loss may occur
Key Points
  • Not currently present in the UK
  • Vaccination required under Pet Travel Scheme for travelling cats
  • Infected animals may not show any clinical signs for months, or even years8
How is it spread?
  • Usually spread by a bite from an infected animal
Symptoms
  • Unexplained aggressive behaviour or sudden behaviour change
  • Death occurs within 1 to 10 days of the onset of signs

References:

  1. PDSA PAWS report 2014
  2. Survey of 1000 cat owners, conducted by Merial Animal Health, September 2015
  3. ABCD – Feline Panleukopenia Factsheet. http://www.abcdcatsvets.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/FPV-FactSheet_200814.pdf
  4. ABCD – Feline herpesvirus upper respiratory infection Factsheet. http://www.abcdcatsvets.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/ABCD_Fact_Sheet-Feline_Herpes_Virus.pdf
  5. Radford, A. et al. Feline calicivirus infection. ABCD guidelines on prevention and management. 2009, JFMS 11 (7) 556-564
  6. Vaccination Guidelines Group, et al. WSAVA guidelines for the vaccination of dogs and cats. J Small Anim Pract 2010;51:1-32.
  7. Lutz, H. et al. Feline leukaemia. ABCD guidelines on prevention and management. 2009, JFMS 11 (7) 565-574
  8. Frymus, T. et al. Feline rabies. ABCD guidelines on prevention and management. 2009, JFMS 11 (7) 585–593