Vaccines are an important, often required, part of a cat’s care – but are there times when you should not vaccinate your cat?
Unequivocally – Yes.
We know this can be a touchy topic. We also don’t think it should be. Vaccines protect our cats from infectious diseases that can caused terrible illness and death. They are a tool to help keep our cats healthy. However, it’s important to acknowledge that every known vaccine also carries some risk. Every vaccine lists its risks on its label (read the label) and are usually very rare. We can avoid many of these risks if we know when not to vaccinate our cats.
Do not vaccinate your cat if:
- If you cat is unhealthy or has been diagnosed with a disease. Every vaccine implicitly instructs it only be administered to healthy cats. This includes cats that are healing from wounds. If your cat is sick or has a diagnosis like FIV, FeLV, CKD or other ailment, do NOT allow a vaccine.
- If your cat has ever experienced a previous vaccine reaction. Adverse reactions can vary from vomiting, and lethargy to seizures and injection site sarcomas. If your kitty has had a vaccine reaction, it means that their body isn’t accepting it. Even if you’re considering vaccinating for a different disease, we do not recommend vaccinating your cat again.
- If your cat has established immunity. Many vaccines last for the lifetime of your cat. This is why it’s possible to over-vaccinate your cat which carries a host of terrible side-effects. Ask for a titer test before allowing your cat to be re-vaccinated. Titers tests your cats antibodies for the disease. If your kitty is still protected, there is absolutely no reason to vaccinate again. More vaccines do NOT equal more immunity.
- If your cat has no risk of disease exposure. Indoor only cats with established health are not at risk for contracting or spreading many infectious diseases. It’s important to weigh the risk of the disease vs. the risk of the vaccine itself. For instance, if your cat is indoor only and not around other cats with FeLV or FIV, there is no reason to vaccinate for this.
Every vaccine stimulates an immune response from the body. When our cats aren’t in good health, when their bodies reject a vaccine, or if they already have immunity, vaccines can cause much more harm than good. Weigh the risk of the disease versus the risk of the vaccine. Do your own research and have a conversation with your veterinarian to make the best decision in the interest of your cat’s health.