Drs. Andeer, Eigner and Milner evaluate every patient to determine his or her vaccine needs.  Typically an indoor cat will be vaccinated with an intranasal upper respiratory virus and feline distemper virus vaccine and a one year, injectable, non-adjuvanted rabies vaccine, but exceptions are made for cats who’ve had bad reactions to vaccines in the past as well as elderly cats or cats with immune deficiencies.

Why do we vaccinate cats, and what do we vaccinate them for?

We vaccinate cats in order to protect them, and in some cases, to protect us as well, from diseases they can contract from other animals. In most cases, our patients will receive a vaccine for upper respiratory viruses and panleukapenia, a potentially fatal viral infection that can wipe out your cat’s white blood cells. This combination vaccine is called FVRCP, and we use nasal drops as a delivery system. The other vaccine we commonly give is for Rabies, a deadly viral infection that is spread between animals and can be contracted by humans.

Why does my cat need a Rabies vaccine if she doesn’t go outdoors?

Because Rabies is a deadly virus that can spread to all mammals (including humans), it is the law that all cats who spend any amount of time indoors be up to date on their Rabies vaccine. If your cat is not vaccinated and bites someone, you could face fines and be forced to either quarantine or even euthanize your pet for Rabies testing. In some counties, cats who present with bite wounds who are not current on their Rabies vaccination could also face quarantine or euthanasia. We feel it’s just not worth the risk to let your kitty’s Rabies vaccine lapse.

What is an adjuvant, and why do you use a non-adjuvanted Rabies vaccine?

An adjuvant is an agent added to a vaccine to stimulate the immune system. Scientific studies have indicated that non-adjuvanted vaccines are recommended in cats due to the adjuvanted vaccines causing more inflammation at the vaccine administration site than the non-adjuvanted vaccines.  Tumors called fibrosarcomas have been linked to vaccine injection sites.  At The Cat Doctor we use a canary pox non-adjuvanted Rabies vaccine called Pure-Vax manufactured by Merial.

Why did you just give my cat a vaccine in her nose?

We use an intranasal FVRCP vaccine to minimize the risk of vaccine-related injection site tumors. Most cats tolerate this vaccine very well, though some will experience some sneezing for seven to ten days after they’re vaccinated.

Should I vaccinate my cat for Feline Leukemia?

In many cases, no. Here in Philadelphia, the majority of our cat population is 100% indoors with no exposure to stray cats or to cats whose FeLV status is unknown. We reserve the use of the feline leukemia virus vaccine for cats who go outdoors or otherwise have potential exposure to feline leukemia virus positive cats.

What can I expect after my cat has been vaccinated?

Many cats will have no outward reactions at all to their vaccinations, but it is not uncommon to see slight lethargy for a day or two after in some cats. The intranasal vaccine can cause sneezing and clear nasal discharge for up to a few weeks after it is given; green or yellow discharge, red or runny eyes, lethargy, and decreased appetite are not normal. With injectable vaccines, it is typical for there to be a small lump at the injection site for a few weeks following vaccination. If this persists for more than a month, gets larger in size, or feels hot to the touch, please contact your veterinarian.


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