Q: I have a question about cat vaccinations: is it necessary to vaccinate indoor cats?
So, your cat is a strictly indoor feline – should you vaccinate? Well…this can be a loaded question. My knee jerk response is, “Heck, no!” As I have said in other blog posts, because of the potential side-effects of over-vaccinating our four-legged friends, whenever it is possible, I like to avoid injecting an antigen, adjuvant, or preservative into my patients (for more in depth information about the different components of vaccines, refer to my recent blog post about manufactured vaccines here).
Herein lies the quandary: What about the rabies vaccination law? What about your cat coming nose to nose, through the porch screen, with a sneezing, outdoor feral cat? Depending on your living situation, your cat may be at varying degrees of risk for rabies or any of the upper respiratory viruses.
I usually recommend a casual vaccine schedule for kittens/young cats that provides appropriate immunity but does not stress out this new addition to your family. Typically, one FVRCP (feline upper respiratory and distemper) vaccine, if given after four months of age, is enough to stimulate an appropriate immune response against those diseases. In order for this method to be successful, the kitten must be kept inside for the first four months, so that she stays healthy and protected before receiving her vaccination. Easy does it!
The bottom line on cat vaccinations (or dog vaccinations, for that matter) at Sunvet Animal Wellness Clinic is this: You get to make informed decisions about which vaccines to give and when you want to have them given.
Obviously, the risk of exposure to rabies is seriously low for indoor cats. However, if your cat should need to be hospitalized for any reason, the veterinary hospital may have a mandatory rabies rule and may refuse the hospitalization, or, just as awful, vaccinate your feline friend for rabies despite the fact he/she is sick. This is the sad truth and must be taken into consideration when making decisions.
Make sure you review everything with a holistic veterinarian as you are making decisions about vaccinating your indoor cat. Many times a week, I have conversations with clients about which choices to make when vaccinating, and it seems that every situation warrants a different answer. This is what I love about what I do. I get to help cat lovers figure out what works best for their favorite felines!
These vaccine conversations are all good and deserve to happen.