How much do you love your pet cat? How much are you willing to go in order to take care of it? When it comes to pet health, many owners think that one of the ways that they can protect their beloved animal companion is by having these vaccinated. However, some owners and even scientists think that this can do more harm than good to a pet cat. Is there some truth to this? Or are pet cat owners better off vaccinating their cats still?
Why Vaccines May Be Needed
In the past, vaccination was greatly recommended due to the varied benefits that it offers. Kittens in particular are like human babies. Their immune systems are not yet fully developed, making them prone to catching some known diseases. With vaccination, their immune system can be altered to fight off viruses, parasites, microbes and bacteria. By injecting minimal doses of antigens, your cat’s immune system reacts to these, creating its own defensive mechanism. When such antigen should strike your pet on the future, your pet’s body will now be prepared, and the invasion will no longer pose a threat to its health.
Vaccination may or may not stop when cats become adults, depending on the recommendation of your veterinarian and the type of vaccine that has been previously administered. Some would last for a year, others on the other hand could be deemed effective until a period of three years such as anti-rabies injections. However, not all vaccines have been studied enough for experts to come to a conclusive time when these are supposed to be re-administered.
Common Mild Side-effects
Although vaccines were intended to protect your pet cat, its administration may come with unwanted side-effects. Some of these are the following:
- Light fever
- Soreness on where the injection was administered
- Reduced appetite for cat’s usual diet
- Swelling on injected part of its body
- Intranasal vaccines could make pet sneeze most of the time
- Loss of energy
- Painful joints
Controversy about Safety on Some Cat Vaccines
Take note that there are also some vaccines that have reportedly caused dangerous or fatal side –effects in feline pets. Rabies shots for example may cause a certain type of cancer called sarcoma. This condition has also been tied to feline leukaemia vaccine. You may be wondering now what sarcoma is and how this is a grave threat to a pet cat. Sarcoma caused by vaccine are tumours that grow on or adjacent to where the vaccine was injected. This is considered a very serious condition since it can be a very aggressive disease that easily spreads in between muscle layers. Although surgery and radiation is available as treatment options, there is still a high risk of recurrence.
Sarcoma is not considered a new condition among pet cats. However, in 1991, it was noticed that this seemed to have higher prevalence in locations where vaccination was a common practice. And one of the implicated culprits was rabies vaccine. In conjunction to its popularity came when the usual modified live rabies vaccine was changed to adjuvanted killed virus vaccine. Adjuvants became an obvious choice because once administered with killed vaccine, this elicits a greater immune response. While the link to sarcoma formation is still inconclusive as to his day since there are other drugs that could elicit the same response, the hypothesis surrounding it should not be easily dismissed.
Another possible life-threatening effect of vaccinating is chronic kidney disease. This has been observed in some cats that have undergone the FVRCP (Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis) vaccine. The vaccination for this starts at 6 to 8 weeks and will be given in an annual basis as an immune booster after that. This is supposed to protect your pet cat from common viral infections, but the Center for Companion Animal Studies at Colorado State University has proven that this can indeed cause chronic kidney disease. How did this happen? The vaccine is a ‘cell culture’ that comes from feline kidney cells. When this is injected in cats, it’s supposed to signal its body to create antibodies against it. But the problem with this is that the cat’s immune system may not be intelligent enough to distinguish the difference between the foreign kidney substance and its own cells, which results to antibodies attacking its own kidney cells. And the result? The deterioration of its kidneys.
Other Considerations to Take Note Of
After reading the possible side-effects above, you may still be deliberating if you should forgo vaccinating your cat altogether. Yes, there are risks involved. But like all other medical procedures also have their own potential risks, this should already have been expected. When considering vaccinating your cat, here are some considerations that you may want to check out:
- Age of cat matters. Once they become a year old, many cats will now have strengthened immune system. Kittens that have been able to feed from their mother’s first milk have received enough antibodies to protect them from certain diseases. Experts recommend that you get your cat vaccinated when they turn 6 weeks old. But the antibodies that were given to them by their mothers may still be active, which could render the vaccine useless.
- Condition of its environment. How high is the possibility of your cat contracting the dreaded disease? If it stays indoors with your other cats, possible exposure to the disease is diminished. Given the dangerous side-effects of certain vaccines, you may need to reconsider if your cat may be needing it in the long run.
- The law in your country. There are some locations that require pet owners to vaccinate their pet cats to prevent possible spread of disease in the future. If this is the case, you will have no choice but to comply.
- Pet’s overall health. Vaccines should not be administered to a sickly pet cat. Remember that vaccines will trigger some side-effects and if your cat is not healthy, this could be dangerous for it.
Vaccine is like commercial cat food. It can come unwanted risks. But considering that veterinarians are recommending these, pet owners still choose to have these administered in their pet cats. It’s a matter of taking it at your own risk, or your pet’s health to be more exact.