Feline vaccinations are preparations that induce or enhance the body's immunity to a particular infectious disease by stimulating it to produce antibodies.
In short, cat vaccines boost the cat's own defense system.
Feline vaccines contain antigens that resemble the micro-organism that cause the disease, so when the vaccine is administered, the cat's immune system will recognize that agent as being foreign and launch a protective reaction.
If the cat is exposed to the specific disease-causing organism in the future, the immune system will be in a position to either reduce the severity of the infectious disease or protect the cat against the development of the disease or infection.
The main objective for cat vaccinations is to provide kittens and cats with immunity against the most common and serious infectious cat diseases.
Note: As there are risks with vaccines, feline vaccinations should not be administered more often than recommended.
Cats should only be vaccinated if the benefits far outweigh the risks.
A cat's response to vaccination may be negatively impacted by a host of factors:
Ideally feline vaccinations should only be given to healthy cats.
Vaccination should be avoided in cats with pre-existing or acute illnesses or high temperatures.
The safety of vaccines in pregnant queens has not been established and should be avoided.
Whilst feline vaccination is not contra-indicated in lactating queens it may result in undue stress to the queen and affect the production of milk.
Certain pedigree cat breeds may have an increased propensity for adverse reactions to vaccines.
It is suggested that cats that are receiving corticosteroid treatment should not receive feline vaccinations as corticosteroids reduce the activity of the immune system
As the name implies these feline vaccines contain micro-organisms that were initially virulent, but then rendered inactive by various processes.
As a result of this an adjuvant or drug enhancing agent is added to assist or enhance the immune response and the formation of antibodies.
Killed vaccines are less effective than the live vaccines and more frequent boosters may be required.
There is some evidence that they are associated with local injection site inflammation and possibly vaccine associated sarcomas (VAS).
The benefit of a killed vaccine is
that they can be administered to immune compromised cats as they cannot
cause the disease which the vaccine is designed to prevent.
These are possibly the most common cat vaccines used.
MLV's contain attenuated or a virulent organisms (i.e. a bacteria or virus in a weakened form).
Modified live vaccines have the capacity to stimulate a stronger immune response than the killed vaccines.
They create immunity which resembles that induced by recovery from a natural infection of the disease.
MLV should not be administered to cats with a compromised
immune system as it may cause the disease
Feline vaccininations can be administered via 2 main routes.
These routes have been evaluated and approved to provide optimum immunity:
The injectable form is the most common and can be give subcutaneously (S/C) i.e. into the fatty layer just under the skin; or intramuscularly (IM) i.e. directly into a muscle.
This cat vaccine is administered via the nostrils into the highly vascularised mucosa of the nasal cavity.
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