Are We Over-Vaccinating Our Cats?

Vaccinations are a powerful tool if used the right way; they stimulate the immune system so that it protects our bodies against future infections. Administering core vaccines to pets will protect your cat against potentially life-threatening diseases such as Panleukopenia, Rabies, Feline Herpesvirus, Chlamydia, Feline Calicivirus and Feline Leukemia.

The Vaccine Controversy
Vaccinating our pets is of great importance; however, long-term use of vaccines on cats and other pets is associated with the development of various autoimmune diseases and conditions such as digestive issues, allergies and skin diseases. Over vaccinating our pets can also lead to adverse reactions such as fever, loss of appetite, swelling of the face, lethargy, hives and joint soreness. Other, more severe reactions include weight loss, seizures, inflammation of the heart or thyroid, uveitis and anaphylactic shock. A good example is the FVRCP vaccine whose continued use causes kidney inflammation in cats.

Depending on the type, vaccines provide a sustained protective immune response for at least one year; others can last up to 7 years or even offer lifetime protection. Therefore, the ideal duration to re-administer a vaccine is after three years or more. Unfortunately, most people vaccinate their cats annually, putting their health at risk.

The Exception
When it comes to vaccinating kittens, we go by the theory “less is more.” The immune system of kittens is still underdeveloped which means they need more protection compared to adult cats. The recommended vaccination schedule for core vaccines is administering the first vaccine seven weeks after birth, another at week 10 and the third at week 13. Ideally, the period between vaccinations should be 3 to 4 weeks. This way, they will gain full immunity.

Below are some tips that will ensure safe vaccination:

1. Do not over-vaccinate – Consult your vet to develop a vaccination schedule for your cats. Remember to consider the cat’s age, health status, lifestyle and risk of exposure. Core vaccines should be a priority, while non-core vaccines should be administered when the need arises.

2. Avoid combining vaccines when possible – Combo vaccines increase the risk of developing adverse conditions especially in kittens.
3. Avoid vaccinating a sick or stressed pet; it compromises their immune system further, leading to severe reactions.
4. Ask your vet to administer a non-adjuvant vaccine to reduce the risk of cancers.
5. Do not re-vaccinate your pet without testing its immunity. Unnecessary vaccinations are harmful to your cat.
6. Do not vaccinate your pet by yourself; you might administer the vaccine at the wrong place.

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