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The Vaccination Conundrum - Protocols for Cats Vaccines

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Photo of Vet Preparing to Vaccinate Cat

Photo of Vet Preparing to Vaccinate Cat

Photo Credit: © iStockPhoto/Copyright: Jon Schulte

Multivalent Cat Vaccines

Traditionally, kittens have been given a "3-way vaccine," which contains agents against feline calicivirus, herpesvirus and feline panleukopenia (FRCP), all given in one "shot." These are considered "core" vaccines, and are essential for all cats. A 4-way vaccine, adding Chlamydia is also available, for cats at risk of contracting the latter (primarily show cats.)

Controversy over multivalent vaccines is often almost as heated as the discussions over whether in fact to vaccinate or not. Some people believe that hazards attendant with multivalent vaccines are almost as great as those with adjuvants. On the other hand, a veterinarian with 28 years practice with small animals offers,

    "Not a single person I queried would offer any irrefutable evidence that the multivalent vaccines actually harmed pets. There are stories, there are opinions, there are theories, there is conjecture... even suggestions that veterinarians are knowingly using all those vaccines to further their financial gains! (On this point, you should know that giving a pet a single dose of a single vaccine, then giving subsequent single dose vaccines for different diseases spread out over a period of time could be more expensive for the pet owner and more revenue for the veterinarian than giving a multivalent vaccine.)"
    Dr. T.J.Dunne, Jr., Vaccinations...Too Many, Too Often?
Although the VAFSTF and the AAFP protocols allude rather cryptically to the FRCP vaccine, I have found nothing within either of their protocols to indicate approval or disapproval. Since even the medical experts disagree, it is difficult for a lay person to seize upon the right answers for his or her own cat. Indeed, the summation of the VAFSTF mentions, "Vaccination should be viewed as a medical, rather than a routine, procedure. However, the profession lacks sufficient data to accurately assess the relative risk of administering a particular vaccine or antigen to an individual cat."

Cat Vaccine Decision Time

Before making any decision regarding the withholding of recommended vaccinations, it is suggested you do your homework. Don't use this article or any other single article as the basis for a decision, but read as many varying opinions as you can find. This article is not intended to definitively answer any questions, but to stimulate the reader into doing his or her own research. There is much more to be learned about vaccination pros and cons and I have only touched the tip of the iceberg.

The bottom line, as alway, is that these are issues you should discuss with your own veterinarian in deciding which vaccinations your cat needs and how often. Every household varies, and the decision is a very personal one, to be made in an informed manner rather than as a result of rumors and panic. In any case, if you and your veterinarian agree to forgo the annual vaccination scheme, make sure you still take your cat in at least once a year for a well-cat check-up and for needed dental cleaning, along with titer-checking, if that's in the plan.

Resources and Recommended Reading

Share Your Experience With Cat Vaccinations

My veterinarian and I have worked out a vaccination schedule that is acceptable to me.

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