Has your cat been vaccinated in the last 12 months? Cat
vaccinations are the only way to protect your cat against viral disease.
Vaccinating your cat stimulates its immune system to produce
antibodies against the virus, preventing it from causing disease.
There are 3 major cat diseases caused by viruses in
Australia that are highly infectious
and cause serious illness, even death:
1. Feline Infectious Enteritis (Feline
2. Feline Respiratory Disease ('Cat flu')
3. Feline Leukaemia Virus
Other Diseases to be aware of are:
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)
Feline Infectious Enteritis
Feline Infectious Enteritis is a highly contagious
and deadly viral disease – few cats recover from an attack. Cats of all ages can be affected but kittens and
young cats are especially at risk. The virus causes enteritis (inflammation of the intestinal tract) and
onset of signs can be very sudden, including:
Loss of appetite and rapid weight
Vomiting and/or diarrhoea
Sudden death, especially in
Pregnant cats may lose their kittens or give birth
to dead or abnormal kittens
Even with intensive care few cats survive and some
that do survive may become 'carriers' of the virus, shedding it into the environment to infect other
The virus is very tough and can survive in the
environment for long periods, resistant to many common disinfectants and extremes of temperature. Cats can
pick up the virus from infected cats and anything contaminated with their droppings, including bedding, feed
bowls, clothing and hands of owners.
This virus is spread between cats by fighting or by
grooming each other. It causes an immunodeficiency syndrome like Feline AIDS, and predisposes the cat to
other illnesses and cancer.
Another common respiratory infection for which a
vaccine has only recently been developed is Feline Chlamydia. This disease is prinicpally recognised as
conjunctivitis and is seen predominantly in young kittens aged 5 - 9 months. Vaccination against Feline
Chlamydia will reduce the duration and severity of clinical signs in cats that are exposed to high challenge
situations, such as exhibitions, cat shows, stud cats etc.
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)
Recently released is a new vaccine against Feline
AIDS, commonly known as FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus), which is spread by cats fighting. Just like
human HIV (AIDS), cats infected with FIV can develop a reduced ability to fight off infections as the disease
progressively disables the immune system. There is no treatment or cure for the virus
The Feline AIDS vaccine is administered as an
initial series of three doses, two to four weeks apart. It is given to kittens at 8 weeks of age or older.
Cats more than 6 months of age should be tested to ensure they are free of the AIDS virus before being
vaccinated and ideally they should be permanently identified with a microchip. An annual booster is needed to
ensure continued protection.
Your veterinarian will recommned this vaccination if your cat is considered to be at risk.
N.B. The Feline
Aids virus is specific to cats and is not transmissible to humans, dogs or other animal
When should my cat be
Vaccination to prevent these diseases is crucial to
your cat’s health, but will not prevent disease in cats already infected.
Kittens are vaccinated at approximately monthly
intervals from 6 - 8 weeks of age until 16 -18 weeks of age, and then vaccination is annual.
Kittens are given these boosters because the antibodies they got from their mother actually interfere with the
effectiveness of the vaccine.
Since kittens lose these antibodies at different rates, we give several vaccinations to ensure all kittens will
develop sufficient levels of antibodies to protect them during their first year of life.