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    feline vaccinations
    elena121959 posted:
    I am a bit confused about what feline vaccinations are recommended for felines. I have 2 girls, both are strictly indoor cats. I keep them up-to-date on their rabies & distemper( if that is the alternate name for FVCRP). Before I adopted them from the SPCA, they were tested for FELV (neg.); but not vaccinated. Is it better that they are? And is there somewhere that charges less than vets do? If I decide to foster or adopt more cats, should I think about doing that for preventative purposes? Thanks to whoever answers.
    shannondvm responded:
    As strictly indoor cats, they should have an annual exam, Rabies in accordance to the state guidelines or a rabies vaccine titer, and their FVRCP. If they are over 2 years old the risk of FELV infection is greatly diminished and the AAFP (American Association of Feline Practitioners) guidelines say they do not need FELV vaccination at that point. However, if you will be fostering you are exposing them to the additional diseases the fosters may bring into the house, including FELV and that puts them into the high risk category (similar to being outdoor cats).
    As to somewhere that charges less than vets do, I am a vet, I made $19K last year charging $39 for annual exam, $18 for Rabies (3 year vaccine) and $29 for FVRCP (3 year vaccine). Truly the most important factor in pets living a long life is a good diet, the second most important is regular exams and bloodwork as indicated as this allow us to find problems much earlier than not doing the exams /- bloodwork. My overhead is crazy high. My head receptionist and vet techs all made more than me last year. Since my MD is reimbursed $50 for an annual exam, and $75 for each vaccine, I do not think this is too expensive. I also drive a car that has 120K miles on it. So I guess I am very sensitive to people who want to go somewhere cheaper for vet care. You get what you pay for. I have seen many pets from vaccine clinics with severe reactions and the response of the low cost clinic is you will have to take them to a regular vet. They end up paying much more when that happens. Pets that I vaccinate that have reactions, I can get reimbursed from the manufacturer and thus you don't pay for the adverse reaction.

    I will get off my soap box now. Good luck with your two girls. And don't get me wrong. Fostering is a great service (I am currently fostering a mom and her 5 2 week old kittens from my local SPCA.) But I also keep them isolated from all 4 of my personal cats and my dog, so as to protect mine and them from exposure to any transmittable disease.
    srstephanie responded:
    Hi Elena,

    You may want to look at the document that Dr Shannon mentioned ... the 2006 AAFP Feline Vaccination Guidelines that was written by a carefully chosen group of the top experts in veterinary medicine (immunologists, infectious disease, feline specialists, shelter medicine experts, etc). They are actually, currently, working to update/rewrite the Guidelines but it will probably be another year before they are completed. I have been corresponding with one of the authors of the Guidelines for about 4 years. Here is a link:

    Or, the easy way, is to look at the personal website on vaccine/vaccinations by Dr Richard Ford of NC State, one of the co-authors of the Guidelines (for both dogs and cats). He has summarized the vaccination recommendations of the Guidelines in a series of tables. While one of the premises of the Guidelines is that there is no "one protocol for all cats" and you need to look at your particular situation and risk of exposure ... the suggestions given on Dr Ford's website, based on the Guidelines, are for a typical indoor pet cat. He also gives a few notes with personal opinions and updates since the Guidelines were written. Here is a link:

    If you use a Modifed Live Virus (MLV) vaccine for FVRCP (Herpes, Calici, Panleukopenia) ... first be sure that, if kittens, they receive the last kitten vaccination at or after 16 weeks. That is very important to be sure that there is no longer any maternal antibody interference. After the 16 week vaccination (or if the initial vaccination was later) give a booster one year later. Thereafter, boosters are only needed every 3 years.

    For Rabies, you have to follow the legal requirements in your area. Unfortunately, Rabies titers cannot be used as a reason for not giving Rabies boosters. Rabies titers are not recognized by the US legal system as a means of proving protection. So, you have to give the boosters ... unless there is a medical reason not to AND you live in a state where vets have the right to give Rabies vaccination waivers.

    For Rabies you have a choice of a Killed Virus (KV) vaccine or a Recombinant Rabies vaccine. The advantage of the KV is that there are some that are licensed for 3-years so that you only have to booster them every 3 years (unless local laws require annual boosters). The drawback is that there is a known connection between KV Rabies vaccines and the development in some cats (ca 1 in 1,000 to 1 in 10,000 vaccinations) of a very aggressive cancer ("Vaccine Associated Sarcoma" VAS). It also requires a genetic predisposition in a cat, but the experts recommend avoiding KV vaccines when possible. The rRabies (recombinant, only made by Merial) is a very good vaccine and does not have the same risks as the KV vaccines. The down-side of the rRabies is that it is only licensed for 1 year and has to be boostered annual. The choice of Rabies vaccine is yours, but for what its worth, nearly every vaccine expert prefers the 1-year Recombinant Rabies to the 3-year KV Rabies because of the reduced amount of inflammation and therefore less risk of VAS.

    FeLV is a bit controversial but the Guidelines recommends it for all KITTENS simply because kittens are EXTREMELY susceptible to FeLV if they are exposed. However, once a cat is 6-8 months old, i.e. when their immune system is mature, they have a natural immunity to FeLV. They can still be infected, so vaccination is suggested if there is a high risk of exposure, but it is hard to infect an adult, so most will not need it. If you are bringing in cats with unknown FeLV status, you may want to vaccinate for it.

    I strongly recommend having only vets give vaccinations (I'm just a pet owner). Going elsewhere you run the risk of vaccines not being stored or given properly. I wouldn't trust that for my cat.

    Hope that helps.

    Stephanie in Montreal
    elena121959 replied to shannondvm's response:
    Thank you so much for your response! I am hoping to foster felines when I have my own place (am renting at present). I do plan on keeping them separate 24/7---I previously tried to adopt a 3rd cat, but my 2 girls protested vehemently (hissing at him from their side of the gate). It didn't occur to me about the vaccines; I will take care of that prior to any fostering.

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