Conscious Cat

September 23, 2013 93 Comments

AAFP Releases New Feline Vaccination Guidelines

Posted by Ingrid

feline_vaccine_guidelines

The American Association of Feline Practitioners updated its vaccination guidelines, previously issued in 2006.  Previous guidelines divided vaccines into core and non-core vaccines and recommended that vaccination protocols should be tailored to the individual cat’s health and lifestyle. The guidelines also addressed concerns about injection site sarcomas caused by vaccines.

I was happy to see that the new guidelines are even more conservative. They help veterinarians select appropriate vaccination schedules for their feline patients based on risk assessment. The recommendations rely on published data as much as possible, as well as on the consensus of a multidisciplinary panel of experts in immunology, infectious disease, internal medicine and clinical practice.

One surprise to me was that the rabies vaccine is no longer considered a core vaccine. Core vaccines are recommended for all cats, non-core vaccines should be recommended based on an individual risk/benefit assessment. Of course, rabies vaccines are legally required by many jurisdictions, and while some veterinarians will give a waiver to cats with certain health issues, very few states legally recognize these waivers.

The new guidelines also contain some changes to the recommended location of vaccine administration. They suggest that vaccines be administered even lower on the leg than previously suggested to facilitate treatment of possible injection-site sarcomas. The most common treatment for these tumors is aggressive surgery and frequently amputation. The illustration below shows the new recommended injection sites (green) and the areas to be avoided (red).

AAFP_feline_vaccine_guidelines

The guidelines also address vaccination protocols for shelter cats, breeders, and community cats.

Sadly, far too many cats are still being over-vaccinated because too many veterinarians, and cat guardians, still think annual “shots” are necessary. Compelling evidence implicates vaccines in triggering various immune-mediated and other chronic disorders (vaccinosis). If your cat is still receiving annual vaccines, I urge you to discuss the new guidelines with your veterinarian, or find one who follows these guidelines and practices individualized feline medicine rather than taking a one size fits all approach.

To read the full 2013 AAFP Feline Vaccination Advisory Panel Report, visit the AAFP website.

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93 Responses to “AAFP Releases New Feline Vaccination Guidelines”

  1. Bernie says:

    I wish this had been published before I almost lost Justice to multiple vaccinations on the same day.

    • Ingrid says:

      Bernie, the recommendation to not give multiple vaccines on the same day has been in place for many years. Sadly, far too many veterinarians still don’t follow it, with often scary consequences, as you saw with Justice.

      • Heather Bayley says:

        Hi. I have a 16 year old black cat named Dakotah. She cant have all her vac. at once .
        She became very lethargic the first time. So I told our vet and now she has two trips. I find with vets too that you have to become your cats voice. say no if need be.

        • Barbara says:

          At age 16 and I’m guessing indoor only I wouldn’t vaccinate your cat at all.
          If she has reacted in the past, the reactions will only get worse

      • Sheri says:

        Sorry, but as a long-time vet tech, I can say, we rarely see injection site sarcomas. Occasionally granulomas, but rarely sarcomas. Additionally, I can’t see vaccinating cats in their LEGS where there’s not much loose skin. Too much chance of hitting tendon or bone. I’m not sure from where this study originates, but I beg to differ on your facts.

        • Ingrid says:

          Sheri, these are recommendations by the American Association of Feline Practitioners.

          • Kathy says:

            A task force made up of experts came up with recommendations so that amputation had the possibility of saving a cat diagnosed with VAS. I think I will trust experts rather than a vet tech from one practice. I belong to a VAS support group and new members join weekly. It is not as rare as some people think. I lost my cat to suspected VAS a year after amputation. Anything that can be done to give cats better chances to beat this deadly disease, the better. Best of all would be to change the vaccines and decrease the frequency but as the dollar seems to rule, this is not going to happen. So educate yourself about VAS and spread the word.

        • Susan says:

          Sheri I agree with you. I’m a long time vet tech in a cat only practice and we use all purified vaccines. I can’t see giving vaccines that far sown down on the leg for reasons you mentioned and not to mention that would be painful.

          • Barbara says:

            As I posted earlier, done properly vaccines given distally in the legs are not painful and really a sting is far better than a tumor that can’t be excised because of its location

            Merial Purevax has also been implicated in Vaccine ASsociated Sarcomas. Merial wouldn’t be paying for treatment if this wasn’t the case.

            Barbara RVT

        • Susan V says:

          My cat died from a huge sarcoma on the neck area several years ago. I stopped giving my
          cats any vaccines after that. I’m happy to see they no longer
          recommend that area for injections.

        • Luralyn says:

          I lost a sweet female to some kind of cancer in her hip area where she had been repeatedly vaccinated. We had the tumor surgically removed, but within a year it returned and the cancer had spread into her chest. She didn’t live very long after that. :-( I was shocked to learn about the connection between vaccination injections and cancerous tumors. Wish I had heard about that years before.

        • Barbara says:

          I have been a vet tech for 30 years and lost a cat to vaccine associated sarcoma. Guidelines are from the AAFP. As an RVT I always vaccinated and still do as distally as possible in the legs. I have never in all my years hit bone or tendon or nerve.

        • Kaye says:

          I have had 2 cats with fibrosarcoma from vaccines. One had it in the scruff/ribs/shoulder
          areas & went through 9 surgeries, chemo, renal failure from chemo, heart issues and more over 6 years. Current cat had it in a leg, lost the leg and has been cancer free since. Legs are the recommended sights by the American Assoc of Feline Practitioners.

          As a tech for 22 years, I haven’t seen a large volume of these cancers, but have seen enough to feel following the guidelines is life saving. The non adjuvanated vaccines are safer, but there have been some fibros in cats who have ONLY had these.

          In fact the most recent recommendations are to vaccinate in the lower tail!

          • Ingrid says:

            I’m sorry about your cats, Kaye. I recently wrote about the new study about tail vaccinations, and even though it’s not an official recommendation yet, vaccinating in the tail could certainly facilitate cancer treatment. However, I believe the much bigger issue is how readily the veterinary community seems to accept the high incidence of these cancers. I frequently see the statistic of occurrence prefaced by the word “only.” I wouldn’t consider two cats in the same household low by any stretch of the imagination, nor would I consider 1 in 1,000 t0 1 in 10,000 insignificant. How can these numbers be considered low? Would these stats be acceptable if they applied to infants or children?

  2. It makes a lot of sense to base vaccination scedules on the cat’s lifestyles. I am happy to hear that. Thanks for the great information.

  3. Cindy says:

    Thank you for this information! I’ve been lucky to find a vet that listens to me and is more conservative about giving vaccinations. I much prefer that!

  4. Laura k says:

    Unfortunately I live in a state (NY) that requires rabies vaccinations. I also foster & haven’t been able to find a vet that will titer a cat. We normally don’t vaccinate any of our ill or senior pets.

    • Ingrid says:

      See my response to JAR below, Laura.

    • Elsa Rand says:

      I’ve brought 2 cats to the UK and had to have a rabies titer done for each. It’s a very expensive test, I think it was $150-200.00 from memory. There is only one lab in the US that does the test and it’s in Ks, I think…I can’t believe a vet wouldn’t take the blood and send to the lab, I had no trouble finding one to do it, in LA…but it’s so expensive, I can’t imagine doing it, except for travel reasons, to skip quarantine.

  5. JAR says:

    New York State does not recognize a titer as proof of vaccination for rabies, unfortunately. So, having the titer done won’t make a difference if there is an issue involving the health department.

  6. Sue Brandes says:

    Thank you for this post. I didn’t even know they had guidelines.

  7. This is such good info to know and bring with me to Katie & Waffles’ next vet trip. I can’t remember where they were given their most recent vaccinations and I’ll be very interested to ask my vet about it.

    : )

    • Ingrid says:

      Since this is very new information, I’m guessing that Katie and Waffles’ most recent vaccines were probably still given higher on the leg, Debbie. Let me know what your vet says.

  8. Mary Sue says:

    I think in your first sentence you mean “previously issued in 2006″ rather than 2013. Also, the vaccines are still considered core or non-core (see purple box on page 787 of the full report), they just aren’t listed in the chart in the same way as the 2006 guidelines. I wish more vets would have started following these guidelines when they came out in 2006 and made their clients aware of them. I know many vets who still recommend yearly vaccination, though I am coming across more who are following the guidelines now, though they didn’t in 2006. Most pet owners I have mentioned these guidelines to over the past years have been unaware of them. I too am glad that rabies is no longer considered a core vaccine, though that does little good for most people who want to abide by the law, since as you mentioned, almost all jurisdictions in the US require this.

    In the 2006 guidelines there is interesting information on immunity studies done to show how long immunity might last for different vaccines. I have all indoor only cats, ages 13 to 19, and I do not routinely vaccinate after age 7 (except once for new arrivals whose vaccine history is not known). I have done titers to assess immunity and they have been fine, though immunity determned this way does not necessarily mean complete protection from disease.

    Mary Sue

    • Ingrid says:

      Thanks for the correction, Mary Sue. I, too, continue to be surprised at how many cat guardians are unaware of these changes in vaccination protocols, and shocked at how many vets still recommend annual vaccinations. I share your frustration about the rabies vaccine.

  9. Thanks for posting this. I have now convinced my vet that vaccinations should be based on the cat’s life-style, which means I don’t get them annual shots anymore. Except for rabies which are required in my state.

    Sue

  10. Ingrid Gordon says:

    Good information – my vet does not do multiple vaccines at a visit – and, other then rabies, you do not need an appointment just for a vaccine. Rabies vaccine in mandated in my county but not state, and if I lives 2 miles to the west I would be in a different county. I’ve asked the county why I can have a religious exemption for kids (that is if I had any) from vaccines but not for my indoor cats. Duh. The county licenses cats as well – I have no issue with this – but think that requiring rabies vax for indoor cats in a county that is virtually rabies free (per their statistics) is ridiculous.

  11. dawn says:

    Having lost a cat to sarcoma I am glad vaccines are something that they continue to look at. Here in PA they just recently passed a law exempting dogs and cats from getting rabies if it would be dangerous to their health. In order to qualify they require a yearly statement from the vet.

    I loved to hear what vets are saying about the new recommended locations for the injections. They don’t look like they will be the easiest area to inject.

  12. Cathy Keisha says:

    After not getting vaccines for a couple of years, I only got them again cos I bite the peeps so much and they didn’t want me to get taken away if one of the bites got infected. TW doesn’t believe in vaccines for housecats cos we never go out. She says the risks outweigh the benefits.

    • Ingrid says:

      That’s what any medical decision for our cats always comes down to: risk vs. benefit. The biting issue is a very valid concern, since doctors are required to report animal bites.

  13. Barbara says:

    I have had pets all my life and we never had to give them all these dangerous drugs. I keep my cat INDOORS always and never does he go out. I see no reason to pump him full of drugs. My last cat lived to be 23 and all she ever had was her baby shots, nothing after that. Not sick one day in her life until her last few days on earth….living on a farm, we never had to take our pets to vets consistantly…..

    • Ingrid says:

      I’m glad you had such a healthy cat, even without regular veterinary care, Barbara! I do want to stress that just because cats don’t need annual vaccines, they still need to see their veterinarian at least once a year for a thorough physical exam. Cats 6 or older should be seen twice a year.

      • Kathy Doubleu says:

        I agree Ingrid, my cats see the vet no less than once a year. I’ve learned from experience (vis my dad’s old world thinking) that if you don’t take the pets for regular check ups it cost waaay more when they get ill and it’s hurts a whole lot more knowing that prevention could’ve saved their lives. It’s worth the once a year visit. (mine go more when they get older, I have basic blood tests done to ensure all is going right, such as blood, liver, kidney, bladder, etc.)

        • June Ferley says:

          Doing blood work to diagnose problems is a great idea… I do that with my dogs. If your cat, or dog, has to be hospitalized the issue will not be treated unless ALL inoculations have been given! And that can present problems in my area.

      • Annie says:

        Most vets I have found will require you to get the shots to see your cat. EVEN though they are not required only the rabies. I am a rescue so they understand I do my own vaccines (which I only do every 3 yrs) but most owners won’t question this as the secretary making the appointment will tell you the vet requires these as they tried to do me. I just wonder if the average pet owner would argue the matter but I feel the vet would refuse to treat their pet if they refused to get them. We live in a remote area and have only a few vets nearby without having to drive an hour away and they know it. We have only one in town and I use one 20 min away for the rabies which we do a 3 yr vaccine.

        • Ingrid says:

          Every vet clinic has their own protocols, and it’s up to each cat guardian to be their cat’s advocate. I don’t recommend the 3-year rabies vaccine for cats, as it is not non-adjuvanted. Adjuvants have been implicated in causing vaccine induced sarcomas. Currently, the only non-adjuvanted rabies vaccine on the market is labeled for one year only.

  14. Bobbi Hahn says:

    Thanks so much for this important information, Ingrid. I, too, was unaware of these guidelines, so Mozart and I *really* appreciate the heads up!

  15. Sentinel Red says:

    It’s unfortunate that in the UK, many vets will not provide prescriptions for pets if they are not brought in for annual boosters. This means that common sproducts such as flea treatments can’t be purchased.

    I have one active cat who makes freinds with other cats, hunts, does cat stuff who needs his jabs. I have another, who is fat, lazy,stays indoors, hates everyone, and is massively traumatised for at least a week after a vet vist. He needs the flea treatment as he picks things up from the other cat – I have a nightmare getting his stronghold as the vet won’t give it without seing him!

  16. Tinselfairy says:

    I have to inject my cat with insulin twice a day, and I’ve been taught to do it, between the shoulders or around the shoulder area, I’ve been doing this for 7 years. Can you please tell me if I should be changing the injection site for insulin jabs too?

    • Ingrid says:

      You’ll have to check with your vet.

    • Kate says:

      Just to answer your question, insulin injections are done between the scapula, whereas vaccines are administered dorsolaterally around the hips & upper legs. No need to worry about adverse reactions from the insulin injections, as they are very different! You’re doing it right :)

      • Ingrid says:

        Much is still unknown about injection site sarcomas. Vaccines appear to be the major culprit, but please check with your veterinarian about whether you should vary the site for your cat’s insulin injections, Tinsefairy.

  17. Connie Vogel-Brown says:

    Thank you for posting this information. We had to have my Sarah’s back leg and partial hip amputated due to a sarcoma that seemingly appeared overnight. Many people thought I was crazy to spend the time, travel, and money, to have her treated, but I don’t think they understand the bond that can be had with a true friend. I am no longer an advocate of shots for full time indoor cats.

  18. Krista says:

    Thanks for sharing this. I hope all vets will adopt these guidelines. I’d like to see the major licensing groups update their guidelines. It’s difficult for me, as an mere client, to ask my vet to accomodate concerns like this. They act like I’m being difficult. I only vaccinate for rabies because my state requires it, but I constantly get reminders from the vet for all the other vaccines they want my cat to have. And worse, I can’t board her anywhere because she doesn’t have the full menu of vaccines she doesn’t really need.

    • Ingrid says:

      Krista, if your vet does not want to accommodate these concerns, it’s time for you to find a new vet. It is reasonable to expect your vet to listen to your concerns and be open to discussion, not to make you feel like you’re being difficult. You are your cats’ advocate.

  19. Elsa Rand says:

    I live in the UK now and do not vaccinate my cats at all. Mine are indoor only cats and I do not board them, when I go on holiday, so they don’t get exposure to many of the things outdoor/boarded cats need to worry about.
    There are too many horrible stories about cancer at vaccine sites and I’ve had one cat who had a bad reaction, so for indoor cats, I just don’t want to take the risk. My cats have all lived between 17 and 21 years, so not vaccinating has not hurt them. I know for outdoor cats, things are different, of course.

  20. Lani says:

    In 46 years, all our cats have been indoor cats, and we have only had our various cats vaccinated with the baby shots. One exception. We had to have some work done in our attic and the only access was from inside the house. We also found that we had a small colony of bats up there. Living in the middle of a forest area, rabies is definitely a concern, so we had our two cats vaccinated for rabies, on the off chance a bat came into the house. I have no doubt the cats would think a bat as a real fun toy.

    No vaccine4s before or afterwards for our babies.

  21. Chris says:

    It’s whether the insurance company will deny reimbursement if my indoor only cat needs treatment concerns me. Rabies is required where I live, so it’s the other vaccines I’m writing about.

  22. Dana says:

    I work for a NY animal shelter. Over the past three years, we have had three rabid cats in our very local area, just north of NYC. I am very concerned that the public will think that rabies is a disease of the past.

    • Elsa Rand says:

      I’m in the UK and we don’t have rabies, but my vet in LA, said that the vaccine was god for 3-5 years, so he did not recommend yearly rabies vacs for cats.

      • Ingrid says:

        The problem with the vaccines that is labeled for 3 years is that it’s not non-adjuvanted, and that increases the risk of injection site sarcomas. The only non-adjuvanted rabies vaccine available in the US is only labeled for one year. I believe, and many feline veterinarians agree with this assessment, that it is less risky to vaccinate once a year with the non-adjuvanted vaccine rather than once very three years with the other one.

        • Elsa Rand says:

          My cats were indoor only, so I didn’t vaccinate anyway, except when I had to have them done before bringing them over. He gave them the weakest dose, that he legally could, to get our pet passports. Since we have no rabies in the UK, it was going to be the only time they got that shot, so thankfully not something I have to worry about.

  23. Claire says:

    Thank you very much for posting this. My cats get the FVRCP but I avoid the FeLV and Rabies vaccines. They recently got their “one-year-later” FVRCP booster, but I am not entirely sure where I plan to go with my vaccinations from here. Fortunately, I have two veterinarians who, while both are not on board with the absence of the Rabies vaccine, at least respect my decision and are willing to talk openly about the things I have read. One of my veterinarians says they used to be more lax about the rabies vaccine until one of their patients died from rabies at 15-years-old. That said, they are extremely conservative with their vaccines and are willing to let me choose which vaccines I want/have wanted to give with no issue. I very fortunately live in a state where Rabies is not a required vaccine in all counties and only some counties require your cat to be licensed. I do not live in one of these counties and also live in an area where holistic medicine is commonly practised and respected. This will be something for me to print out and bring with me to work, so thank you.

  24. irene says:

    my vet told me that my cat, suffering the ill affects long term from being exposed to distemper, in utero and being born with C. hyperplasia does NOT need distemper vaccine. I suspect it helps that she’s an apt. cat with no exposure to outdoors as well and she’s got to have the antibody from the slight case of the disease she had during her gestation. The virus affected her neurological system therefore her “birth defect”…however that impacts her very little …she’s adjusted. Just for info sake, the number one issue with these types of cats is litter box issues. SOLUTION: keep the cat litter very shallow inside a shallow pan. Their paws sink into deep litter making them feel like they are falling over. With shallow litter, this does not happen. Otherwise, they can have normal lives, live an avg lifespan and make wonderful pets. Over eager vets need to be more careful vaccinating female cats…if she’s pregnant this condition may kill most of the litter or impair those kittens born live. In my cat’s case, she was the only kitten born.

    • Esther says:

      I took care of a kitten born with cerebellar hyperplasia. She was one of two kittens born to a mom who either received a distemper vaccination or the mom was exposed to the distemper virus. As she was a rescue cat who gave birth to the kittens shortly after being rescued, there was no way of knowing which was the case. Each kitten had a different level of the condition and I cared for the one with the most severe form for a month. Unfortunately, she only lived to the age of ten months old because of her weakened condition. It is a condition similar to the human form of cerebal palsy.

  25. Kathy says:

    I’m a volunteer with a rescue/adoption group. How do I give the kittens (and a few adults) the FVRCP subcutaneously in the lower leg? I will ask the vet, the next time I see her/him, but I would appreciate your response.

  26. irene says:

    to clarify…the mother cat was inoculated for distemper during her pregnancy which affected my cat and probably caused the reabsorption of the other kittens. She was born alone, was rescued with her Mom by Kitty Shock Wave Cat rescue here in NYC via subway, placed on Craigslist when she was 10 months by this very loving shelter and has been mine all the rest of her 5 years. Vaccinations often involve live virus’ and they can do real damage. Thanks for sharing this great info

  27. Kathy Doubleu says:

    Thankfully, I have a vet who had followed this protocol for years. He believes in not over doing anything
    He does titers for the dogs (My dogs have not been vaccinated with the exception of Rabies since they were about 3 years old) and with the cats, he asks about their lives and goes from there. Since my cats are never outdoors and are never around anything that can cause them a need for vaccinations (boarding, other strangers cats, etc) he skips vacs every 2-3 years and only the ones that are needed. Love you Dr. Wen

  28. June Ferley says:

    I was not aware of this information either! I will make sure my vet is provided this info. and we will have a discussion about this as I lost my beloved Siamese to injection site sarcoma. It was a terrible ordeal for my Sami, and I never want it to happen again. I am in Maryland, Howard County, and rabies is required. Knowing that I can refuse other vaccines is great news!! My cats are 9 years old and never, never go outside. Thank you sincerely for this great news!! “Jackson” the cat whisperer led me to this site.

  29. June Ferley says:

    It is a shame that veterinarians don’t follow the recommendations on inoculations. I too have a concern regarding the new injection sites… there is little flesh on the legs!

  30. Dave says:

    What about the FIV vaccination? I’m getting my boy kitten fixed and the Vet wants to give this vaccination, which consists of going back for a second shot, later. Is this necessary? He is an inside cat. Thank you, in advance!

    • Ingrid says:

      There is absolutely no reason, in my opinion, why an indoor cat would need the FIV vaccine. My understanding is that the effectiveness of the FIV vaccine is poorly supported by current research. Additionally, cats will always test positive for FIV after receiving the vaccine, so if they become ill later in life, there will be no way to eliminate FIV from the diagnosis.

      • Elsa Rand says:

        Agreed!

      • Esther says:

        If your kitten has been tested for FeLV/FIV and does not go outside, there is no reason to get the cat vaccinations. This was meant to slightly protect it if it is an outdoor cat. I work in cat rescue and have six cats of my own. All of my cats were tested at 8 weeks and again at 12 weeks of age to make certain they test negative. If a kitten is tested too early, it will result in a false negative. According to my veterinarian, the ideal time you can be certain a kitten will not have it’s mother’s antibodies in it’s bloodstream is 12 weeks of age. There comes a time when putting too many unnecessary chemicals into an animals body can do more harm than good. Over vaccinating is one of them. Only you can be the one to make that decision as you are your cats advocate.

    • AmyG says:

      Are you sure its a FIV vaccine that your vet is recommending, not FVRCP of FeLV? Very few vets recommend FIV vaccination for indoor cats and only if you have a cat with FIV or somehow have a risk of FIV. On the other hand, kittens should get FVRCP and go back in 3-4 weeks for another shot (and again if needed until 16-20 weeks old). Also FeLV is often recommended for kittens, again repeated in 3-4 weeks. Unless your cat goes outdoors and fights with other cats, there is really no reason to vaccinate against FIV. The vaccine is not all that effective and will make the cat test positive for FIV (unlike the vaccine for FeLV). If you vet is talking about the vaccine for FIV and does not back down when ask him about it, I would find another vet.

  31. Ruby says:

    My vet gives my cats the rabies vaccine in the tail. Then if she should get sarcoma, he will only have to cut the tail off. That is much better than losing a leg.

  32. Suemac says:

    So if cats can get cancer and other diseases from vaccines, how can the vaccine industry continue to say that vaccines are 100% safe for humans?

  33. Esther says:

    About ten or more years ago my previous veterinarian told me that there was a new protocal that a cat, after they were given a one year booster following their kitten shots, were given their distemper vaccinations every three years as well as their rabies. Now it seems that a lot of veterinarians I have come across in the past six years are going back to the one year distemper vaccinations and I don’t know why unless it is for financial reasons. I had read years ago that the reason that switched to the three year distemper vaccines was because of the sarcomas and that they did not know how long these vaccines last and that three years could still be too early. Can someone explain to me what the heck is going on. Also, how old is too old to be vaccinating our cats?

    • Ingrid says:

      Some immunity studies for canine vaccines have shown that immunity last far beyond the three years. That’s why it’s important that cat guardians work with veterinarians who are comfortable with establishing vaccine protocols based on each individual cat’s needs. In the case of the rabies vaccine, it’s a legal issue. Adjuvanted rabies vaccines are currently labeled for three years, the non-adjuvanted feline vaccine is only labeled for one year. I’d discuss vaccinating older cats with your veterinarian – there is no hard and fast answer. My personal feeling is that the fewer vaccines you can give a cat without risking her health, the better, especially as they get older. You are absolutely right: you are your cat’s advocate when it comes to her health.

  34. Elsadora says:

    Rabies is very rampant where I live, though my cats are indoors only. It only takes a second for a baby to get outdoors, unbeknownst to you. Since Rabies is a killer, I would rather take my chances with the vaccine than not.

  35. Kate says:

    I believe that it is important that owners are up to date on vaccine information; however, the VAST majority of owners will not bring their animals back multiple times in a short period for multiple vaccines – that is the semi-unfortunate truth, and that is why most vets give multiple vaccines per day. Having owners be compliant is a huge issue in veterinary medicine, and overall, it is (imo) better to have the animals vaccinated than not. Many people believe that “herd immunity” will protect their pets, but that is only effective if MINIMUM 70% of the community is vaccinated.

    The three-year DHPP/DA2PP, three-year Rabies, and three-year FVRCP vaccines will help to reduce the risk of injection-site sarcomas — which truthfully are HORRIFIC but NOT COMMON — and other affiliated injection problems.

    It is important not to let the internet only, and/or your beliefs about human vaccination, to inform the choices you make for your cat or dog. Animals – although we treat them as children – are NOT small humans. Veterinarians study for years & are well aware of the associated risks of vaccination, so while I encourage & respect open conversation at the vet’s office & owners who are well-informed and are advocates for their pet, please don’t assume that your vet is purely being obstinate or old-fashioned with his/her vaccine recommendations.

    • Ingrid says:

      You’re right, one of the reasons why many vets give multiple injections at the same time is because they worry that the cat’s guardian may not come back for follow up visits, but that’s not a good enough reason to put a cat’s health at risk. Bombarding the immune system with that many biological agents at one time is not a good practice. This is why it’s important to be your cat’s advocate and discuss individualized vaccination protocols with your vet.

      The three year rabies vaccine is not adjuvant free. The only non-adjuvanted rabies vaccine currently on the market in the US is the Purevax vaccine, and it is only labeled for one year.

  36. Ingrid says:

    A recent study suggests that the tip of a cat’s tail appears to be as effective as vaccines at traditional sites, and using that location would certainly facilitate treatment of any vaccine induced sarcomas. You can read more about the study, and my take on it, here: http://consciouscat.net/2013/11/18/tail-vaccinations-may-facilitate-cancer-treatment-cats/

  37. Athena says:

    This is all frightening to me. I lost a kitty to cancer a couple of years ago, but I don’t know if it was vaccination-site related.

    I have a 9-year old male cat who turns into a demon at the vet’s office, out of sheer terror. I’ve tried to make things less stressful for him, but nothing seems to work. I’ve taken him for a checkup once a year for most of his life, but for many years, the vet I took him to touched him very little so he wouldn’t get upset. Last year I decided to have him completely checked-out, blookwork and all, because it had been so long since he’d had that done. They had to use gloves and sedate him to even draw blood for the tests! I had used a pheromone spray in his carrier before leaving home, and he was noticeably calmer than normal when we got into the exam room. But, as soon as strangers came in and tried to touch him, he flipped out. I don’t know what to do! I wish there was a vet who made house-calls where I live. There isn’t, so I have to scare him by taking him somewhere else. Any recommendations?

    • Ingrid says:

      You may want to check with your vet to see whether he/she would consider making a house call, even if it’s not something they normally do.

      • Mary Sue says:

        My vet will do house calls for euthanasia, so asking about house calls for emergency care is a good idea. As a last resort, for an emergency or even for a yearly checkup, you might ask your vet for some sort of sedative to give him before you take him to the vet. That’s stressful in itself, but it might be better than no vet care. Does he do okay until he is taken out of the carrier? Do you stay with him during the exam? Do you have a carrier that has a removable top? If so, maybe taking the top off and having the vet do as much as possible with him in the carrier and you by his side might help.

        • Athena says:

          I’m definitely going to look into a sedative, once I find a vet I think I can trust. He does okay until he sees faces he doesn’t know. I do have a carrier with removable top, and I always stay in the room with him (and all my cats), but once he sees strangers, he doesn’t even recognize me anymore. He scratched my face pretty bad once. At home, he’s the most gentle, adoring cat I’ve ever known. Gets swatty when I try to force him somewhere he doesn’t want to go, but not too bad. But at the vet, it’s like a curtain of terror falls over his eyes and I become a stranger to him too. It makes me feel absolutely horrible.

          • Mary Sue says:

            I hope you can find a good cat only vet. Sometimes they do better. One other thought, and I am not recommending it, nor have I ever used it, but I do know some people use it with success – Clipnosis. You can read about it here http://www.clipnosis.com/ and I think I’ve seen some videos of it being used on Youtube. I hope you find a solution.

      • Athena says:

        I’ll ask… when I find a vet I actually like.

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