The importance of vaccination for your cat

Immunity and vaccination

Immunity is the body’s natural ability to fight infection. Vaccination
confers immunity by exposing the body to a small but entirely harmless dose of the disease in question.

Immunity in kittens

Kittens are usually protected during the first few weeks of life by an immunity passed through the mother’s first milk (colostrum). However, this immunity fades rapidly, leaving the kitten susceptible to disease within a few weeks. At this point, vaccination can take over in providing protection.

The kitten’s first vaccination

The first time a kitten is vaccinated a course of two injections is usually given, separated by at least a couple of weeks. This primary course can be given to kittens as young as nine weeks of age – but if you acquire a kitten that’s already older, talk to your vet as soon as possible about vaccination timings. The vet will also want to give your new kitten a general check – up.

When can my kitten meet other cats?

Vaccination doesn’t work immediately; it takes a few days for immunity to develop. Your vet will advise you on when it’s safe to let your kitten interact with other animals – and how to let it outside for the first time, safely.

Re-vaccination

Immunity to disease may gradually fade, leaving your cat at risk. Depending on the disease, boosters may be needed. An annual visit to your vet will allow for a general health check and for any necessary boosters to be given.

Record of vaccination

You’ll be given a certificate that contain a record of the vaccination
And tells you when the next booster is due. Catteries, cat shows and,
of course, your vet will need to see this certificate, so always keep it in a safe place.

What disease do we vaccinate against?

Cat ‘Flu (Feline Respiratory Tract Disease)

Remains depressingly common in the UK, and can be very serious, especially in in kittens and elderly cats. It is spread between cats by direct contact or through sneezing. Several microbes are known to cause the disease, all producing similar symptoms such as a runny nose and eyes, high temperature and extreme lethargy. Injectable vaccines are available for the viral agents that cause cat ‘flu, as well as an intranasal vaccine against Bordetella bronchiseptica. Regular vaccination is the best means of keeping the disease at bay

Infectious Enteritis (Feline Panleucopenia)

An unpleasant often fatal disease. Fortunately, vaccination has been extremely successful in controlling the disease and it is now relatively rare.

Feline Leukaemia

A viral disease transmitted when cats fight each other – or even during grooming. The disease can take months to develop after infection but then it begins to suppress the cat’s immune system, causing secondary infections, tumours and death. Not long ago, feline leukaemia was bot widespread and common, but vaccination is now gradually bringing it under control.

Chlamydophila felis

Some cats are vaccinated against this common cause of potentially severe conjunctivitis. It is mainly seen in kittens in multicat households.

Rabies

A fatal disease not found in the UK. Vaccination is mandatory if you plan to take your cat abroad.

The importance of vaccination for your dog

Immunity and vaccination

Immunity is the body’s natural ability to fight infection. Vaccination confers immunity by
exposing the body to a small but entirely harmless dose of the disease in question.

Immunity in puppies

Puppies are usually protected during the first few weeks of life, thanks to immunity passed through the mother’s first milk(colostrum). However, this immunity fades rapidly, leaving the puppy susceptible to disease within a few weeks. At this point, vaccination can take over from the mother in providing protection.

The puppy’s first vaccination

The first time a puppy is vaccinated a course of two injections is usually given, separated by two more or more weeks. This primary course can be started as early as six weeks of age – but since most are already older than that when they are bought, it’s vital to talk to your vet as soon as possible about vaccination timings. The vet will also want to give your new puppy a general check – up.

When can my puppy meet other animals?

It’s important for young puppies to socialise with other animals – it improves their behaviour in later life. Vaccination doesn’t work immediately; it takes a week or so for immunity to develop. Your vet will advise you when it’s safe to let your puppy meet others

Re-vaccination

Immunity to disease may fade, leaving your dog at risk.
For some diseases, boosters may be needed every 3 or 4 years but for some annually.
An annual visit to your vet will allow for a general health check and for necessary boosters to be given.

Record of vaccination

You’ll be given a certificate that contains a record of the vaccination and tells you when the next booster is due. Boarding kennels, training classes and, of course, your vet will need to see this certificate, so always keep it in a safe place.

What diseases do we vaccinate against?

Canine Parvovirus

A hardy virus that can survive for long periods in the environment. Caused major epidemics in the 1970’s and remains widespread in pockets throughout the UK. Usually fatal.

Canine Distemper (Hard Pad)

Another severe, usually fatal disease, mercifully rare in the UK in recent years due to vaccination. However, major outbreaks have occurred in Europe.

Infectious Hepatitis

Still exists in the UK, although now rare due to vaccination. Often fatal.

Leptospirosis

Contracted from the urine of rats and/or other dogs. Canals and rivers can be contaminated, and bacteria that cause this disease are widespread in the UK. Can also cause severe disease in humans (Weils disease).

Kennel Cough

Extremely unpleasant whooping cough-like infection, usually transmitted in places where dogs gather together (kennels, shows and also parks where lots of dogs are walked). The disease may occasionally be life-threatening typically in young puppies and other dogs with a weakened immunity.

Rabies

Fatal disease, not found in dogs in the UK. Vaccination is required if your dog is travelling abroad.