Vaccinations for cats are important to protect them from infectious diseases that they are exposed to. Here's how to choose vaccines wisely.

Necessities, Risks & Choosing Wisely

Vaccinations are important for protecting cats from infectious diseases to which they have risk of exposure. Unfortunately, most cat parents aren’t advised of the risks of vaccines by their veterinarians, and many cats are being vaccinated for diseases of which they’ll never be exposed. This is unhealthy practice and can result in life-long, vaccine-induced illnesses and sometimes even death. In this guide we’ll share with you the information you’ll need to know about vaccinations to be an informed cat parent in this area. 

What Vaccines Are Necessary For Cats? 

The current recommended core vaccines for cats are meant to protect them from feline panleukopenia, feline herpesvirus, and feline calicivirus (FVRCP) & rabies. Your veterinarian may also suggest non-core vaccines if your cat lives outdoors.

When choosing to vaccinate your cat, it’s important to weigh the risk of exposure vs. the risk of vaccination. Will your cat be exposed to these diseases? There is no such thing as a vaccine without a risk, so choose your cats vaccines wisely

Dr. Karen Becker, DVM states, “In my experience, the safer, more responsible and humane approach is to focus on the minimum number and type of vaccines necessary to successfully immunize individual animals against diseases to which they have reasonable risk of exposure.

  • Rabies: In many places, the rabies vaccine is required by law. If your cat lives outside then it’s important that you vaccinate for rabies. If your cat is indoor-only, has no chance of being exposed to rabies, and will never travel, be boarded or groomed by a professional – it’s up to you to decide if you deem it necessary for this protection. The risk is that your cat escapes, is bitten by a rabid animal and dies. 
  • FVRCP: The FVRCP vaccine is not mandated by law in most areas, but provides protection from some diseases that are airborne or transmitted more easily. For instance, feline panleukopenia (or feline parvo) has been known to travel on the shoes of a human, infecting the cats at home. In my opinion, it is important to have some immunity to these diseases.  

How Often Should I Vaccinate My Cat?

Please understand that more vaccines do not equal more immunity for your cat. It’s also important to note that many vaccines can provide immunity for much longer than the manufacturer states. Depending on your cat’s immune response, they could also not provide immunity at all. The goal of vaccines is to immunize your cat to a disease. Here’s how you can know if it’s time for another vaccine for your cat:

Titer Testing

Titer testing is a blood test that measures the level of antibodies in your cat. It’s a method to monitor your cat’s immunity, which can be used instead of administering vaccines unnecessarily. Titer testing will also determine whether a cat has adequate immunity to a particular disease after receiving a vaccine. It’s an effective way to avoid over-vaccination while ensuring that cats remain protected against infectious diseases.

Recommended Wise Advice: After your cat has received a vaccination, wait a couple weeks and ask for a titer test. Once you’ve established immunity, continue to titer before allowing any further vaccines, unless required by law. 

Risks Of Vaccinating Cats

Some vaccine-induced illnesses and side effects your cat can experience due to vaccines (or over-vaxxing) are:

  • Vaccine-induced sarcoma: These is a cancerous sarcoma that can develop weeks, months, or even years after a vaccination. The rabies and FeLV vaccines are most prominent for causing this cancer.
  • Autoimmune disease: Some cats can develop an autoimmune response after receiving too many vaccines. This is not the immune response you want. 
  • Allergic reaction: In some cases, cats can have an allergic reaction to a vaccine. Signs of an allergic reaction include difficulty breathing, swelling of the face, lips, tongue or throat, hives, vomiting, or diarrhea.
  • Fever: Cats may develop a mild fever after receiving a vaccine. This is, unfortunately, a common vaccine side-effect. 
  • Injection site reaction: Some cats may experience soreness, swelling, or redness at the site of the injection. This is, unfortunately, another common vaccine side-effect. 
  • Lethargy: Cats may feel tired or lethargic for a day or two after receiving a vaccine. This is yet another common vaccine reaction. 

When Should I Not Vaccinate My Cat

  • Don’t vaccinate if your cat is sick or has been diagnosed with any disease.
  • Don’t vaccinate if your cat has had a vaccine reaction in the past.
  • Don’t vaccinate if your cat’s titer test shows immunity.
  • Don’t vaccinate if your cat has no risk of contracting the disease.

Rabies Vaccine Information:

If your cat must be vaccinated for rabies, here are some pro tips for you:

  1. Ask your vet for the non-adjuvanted (non-live) vaccine to reduce risk of side-effects.
  2. Follow up the vaccine with a homeopathic detox, called Lyssin. Partnering with an integrative vet is best.

Other Vaccine Information:

  1. Ask your vet for the non-adjuvanted (non-live) vaccine to reduce risk of side-effects.
  2. Follow up the vaccine with a homeopathic detox, called Thuja. Partnering with an integrative vet is best.

If you seek vaccines from a homeopathic veterinarian, they may also offer alternative methods (homeopathic nodoses/vaccines) that eliminate risk of side effects.

Also remember that a healthy immune system is the best protection from disease. 

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