Have you ever wondered if the cat vaccines we give will last longer than 1-3 years? I have. I’ve also wondered if our indoor cats should be vaccinated at all since they have little to zero risk of contracting most of these illnesses. Well experts say that many vaccines will last our cats their entire life!
So why are our vets still sending us annual reminders that our kitties are due for their vaccinations? Well let’s take a look at the history of these vaccines.
1970: According to Dr. Karen Becker, DVM the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) licensed the vaccinations for companion animals in the 70s, but they did not spend the money to research how long these vaccines would last. Because of this, they arbitrarily decided that pet parents should vaccinate yearly. This decision was based on a guess, with no research to back it up.
1978: Dr. Ronald Shultz, an expert in vaccinations for companion animals, released a study that suggested cats and dogs should be vaccinated every 3 years instead of yearly. Because it wasn’t required, however, most vets still vaccinated annually (and some still do).
2003: The AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association) did further research on how long vaccines last and noted that most vaccines will protect pets for at least 7 years. However, this did not sit well with veterinarians who were afraid of losing clients. The result was that they compromised on the 3 year mark. Unfortunately, this too was not rooted in science and to this day many veterinarians recommend cat vaccines yearly.
The problem with this is that over-vaccinating our kitties can lead to cancer, autoimmune disease and other life-threatening issues.
So, with such little science available, how can we avoid vaccinating our cats too much?
We can ask our vet for a titer test before revaccinating. A titer test is a blood test that your veterinarian can run to see if your cat is still protected from their initial vaccines. I personally know of people whose cats showed immunity to rabies after 18 years of being vaccinated. That’s pretty crazy, huh?
You see, the vaccines that our kittens get are often the same amount as that of what a lion gets. You can imagine why it could last their lifetime. While titer tests are often more expensive than a vaccine, you’ll be spending less than treating cancer and you’ll also save your kitty and yourself much pain.
Before knowing this information, we allowed one of our cats to be revaccinated for rabies after 2 years. He now lives with an autoimmune disease that could have been avoided if we knew better. But like we always say, once you know better you can do better. 🙂