Vaccination is an integral part of a preventative health care programme. Every cat should be vaccinated against 3 core diseases – feline panleucopaenia (or infectious enteritis), feline herpesvirus and feline calicivirus (both causes of “cat flu”). These diseases can have devastating consequences for a cat and it is easy to prevent them by regular vaccination (MSD, 2017).
Feline Panleucopaenia (FPLV) - this virus is widespread and causes bloody diarrhoea, severe dehydration, fever and vomiting, severe lethargy and in some cases death. It is similar to Parvo in dogs.
Feline Herpes Virus (FHV) - this is a highly contagious virus that causes respiratory disease, conjunctivitis, eye ulceration and fever. It can be extremely dangerous to young, geriatric or immune compromised cats. Many cats that get this virus become lifelong carriers of it and will have flare ups of the disease whenever they are stressed or unwell.
Feline Calicivirus - this virus has very similar symptoms to the feline herpes virus but can also causes lameness. It is also highly contagious, very serious in younger, older or compromised cats, and often carried for life after initial infection.
The core vaccination Tricat protects against all three of the viruses above.
- Kittens should have two doses 4 weeks apart, usually given at 8 weeks old and 12 weeks old. They should then receive annual boosters.
- Adult cats who are overdue for vaccination or have an unknown vaccination history should also receive two vaccinations 3-4 weeks apart and then annual boosters.
FIV (Feline Aids) Vaccination
FIV (or Feline Immunodeficiency Virus) is a common virus in New Zealand. It is similar to HIV (Aids) in humans however it cannot be passed to humans. FIV causes severe compromise of the immune system meaning that infected cats tend to get lesions in the mouth, a variety of infections that are very difficult to get rid of, and a range of cancers. FIV is spread by bites during cat fights so any cat that goes outdoors is at risk.
A vaccination is available that provides very strong protection against overseas strains of FIV and should provide good protection against the other strains we tend to get in New Zealand.
- Kittens need an initial course of three doses, one dose every fortnight for three doses. They then need annual boosters.
- Cats that have not been vaccinated for FIV before need to be tested first to see if they have already picked up FIV. Please call us to discuss this or talk to your vet about it during your appointment. If the test comes back negative then an initial course of three doses is given the same as it is for kittens. One dose is given every fortnight for three doses. They then need annual boosters.
- It is very important that each initial dose and each annual booster is done on time. If one is overdue, the three dose course needs to be restarted.