Should I Vaccinate My Indoor Cat?
These days, more cat owners are choosing to house their cats indoors in the interests of wildlife protection and their pet’s health and safety.
Some families allow their cats to roam freely during the day and then curfew them at night. Others have a purpose built cat run where their cats can enjoy outdoor smells and feel grass under their feet without straying outside the property.
Recently there has been a growing trend for cat owners to keep their cat indoors at all times, providing mental stimulation and physical exercise with distractions such as toys, scratching posts and indoor grass.
Along with the popularity of housing cats indoors, comes some confusion about vaccinations and their relevance for indoor cats.
In this article we’ll outline the diseases that your cat could be exposed to – whether indoors or outdoors – and how to keep your pet safe from disease, injury or infection.
CAT DISEASES AND THEIR TRANSMISSION
Feline Enteritis (also known as Panleukopenia)
Onset of this disease is very rapid and can often be fatal. Cats become infected by direct faecal and oral contact as well as indirectly by contaminated objects such as food bowls, bedding, floors and human hand contact.
Signs include high temperature, loss of appetite, depression, vomiting and diarrhoea.
Feline Calici Virus and Herpes Virus (Cat Flu)
Cats generally become infected with respiratory diseases by close contact with other cats, however it can also be spread via contaminated food bowls, bedding, litter trays or human hands.
Cat flu can cause long-term problems including sneezing, nasal discharge and inflamed eyes. Cat flu patients may also develop gum problems or mouth and corneal ulcers, making them reluctant to eat and giving them chronic water eyes. Inappetance can result in dehydration and is potentially fatal.
Feline Leukaemia Virus (FeLV)
FeLV is another disease affecting the cat’s immune system and is transmitted through mutual grooming, shared food and water bowls, mating or fighting.
Symptoms may include weight loss and general poor health.
There is no cure for FeLV and it can be fatal.
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV or Feline Aids)
Outdoor cats can become infected if bitten by another cat with FIV, and it can also be transmitted by a mother cat to her kittens via milk. This is a highly contagious virus through physical contact and can be prevented well through appropriate vaccination.
FIV affects a cat’s immune system and is potentially fatal.
Early symptoms include fever, inappetance, sores and diarrhoea.
Chlamydophila (previously known as Chlamydia)
Chlamydophila is another disease which is transmitted by direct contact with other cats. It causes watery eyes, conjunctivitis and upper respiratory disease, and can cause infertility in queens.
CAT VACCINATIONS AND YOUR CHOICES
The minimum level of vaccinations required to keep your cat safe and healthy will depend largely on whether their lifestyle, proximity to other cats and their medical history.
Our vets will conduct a thorough physical examination and health check before recommending a suitable vaccination regime for your cat.
As a general rule, we protect indoor cats with an annual F4 vaccination to protect them against Feline Panleukopenia, Cat Flu and Chlamydophila.
Outdoor cats will require an F5 or F6 depending on risks associated with their environment or health status. In addition to the diseases covered by an F4 vaccination, an F5 or F6 protects your cat against FeLV and FIV respectively.
The best way to decide about vaccinations for your cat is to consult with your veterinarian.