About 15 years ago I heard about the possible connection between cat vaccines and malignant tumor formation. At that time, I started my own prospective study to see if I could find that connection with my patients. I tried a new protocol and kept track of where I gave each vaccine. Instead of giving all the vaccines in the same location between the cat’s shoulder blades as I was taught in vet school, I separated the sites I use for each vaccine. I inject my patients with the FVRCP vaccine in the right front leg and the Rabies vaccine in the right rear leg. When the situation is indicated, I give the Felv vaccine in the left rear leg and the FIV vaccine in the left front leg. Since I started this protocol, I have not had one single tumor in any of my patients. NOT ONE. A few years ago the Association of Feline Practitioners made the recommendation for every vet to give all cats the vaccines where I give them. Because I have had such good results with my current vaccine protocols with regard to safety and efficacy I will continue to recommend the vaccine policy as outlined below.
For my indoor cats:
I recommend giving only two vaccines as part of your cat’s yearly check up.
This vaccine is required by NYC. Even if your cats never go outside, they should get their Rabies vaccine to protect YOU as much as them. If they were to bite someone and they do not have a Rabies vaccine, You can get into trouble with the city as well as the person they bit. All bite wounds have to be reported to the Department of Health in NYC and You can be fined if your pet is not current on its Rabies vaccine. I have had many situations where an indoor cat escaped to the outside. If they are our for even a short time, they can get into a fight with a stray cat or raccoon and return home with a potential bite wound. This creates a very unfortunate situation for the client and the cat, if the cat is not up to date on the Rabies vaccine. In this situation the city may require a six month quarantine in a city shelter or possibly require euthanasia. Recently a person came to my office whose cat escaped. She thought it was up to date because it had a 3 year Rabies vaccine when it was a kitten 2.5 years ago. BUT 3 year Rabies vaccines require a booster one year later before they are effective for 3 years. She was not informed of this by the clinic who gave it the initial vaccine. It created a difficult and unfortunate situation. I use The Purevax Rabies vaccine. This vaccine is adjuvant free and has not been associated with tumor formation as some of the previous Rabies vaccines with aluminum adjuvants were. It is available as a Yearly vaccine. It has been very effective with minimal side effects and I will continue to use it for now.
The FVRCP vaccine
These initials stand for:
Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calici Virus, Panleukopenia
This vaccine protects against the very contagious upper respiratory viruses and the fatal Distemper virus. This vaccine is very important especially if you have friends who have cats. When they visit you or if you visit them, your cats are at risk. If you volunteer at a shelter or a rescue organization you are placing your indoor cats at risk if they are not vaccinated. People feel miserable when they get the flu. So do our cats when they get these Upper Respiratory Viruses. I have been using is a low volume FVRCP vaccine. I inject a very small amount of fluid into my patients right front leg which causes my kittens and cats much less discomfort. It is a yearly vaccine that is safe and effective. Just as people are vaccinated yearly for the flu, I feel my cats should be vaccinated yearly for these viruses. I have had great success with these yearly vaccines preventing diseases with very, very rare side effects. It is hard to argue with this successful vaccine program. If I was to give a 3 year vaccine, it would be necessary to test the cat’s blood yearly to see that the vaccine is still effective. I feel this is an unnecessary expense and burden for my patients and clients. I will continue using this yearly vaccine, for now.
For My Outdoor Cats:
Rabies and FVRCP vaccines are mandatory in addition to these other vaccines for your outdoor cats. The “Feline Leukemia Virus”[Felv] , the” Feline Aids Virus”[FIV] and ”The Feline Infectious Peritonitis Virus”[FIP] vaccines provide additional protection against diseases your cats get from other cats. These are social diseases that require direct contact with other cats. All of these vaccines, after the initial booster shot require Yearly Booster shots. I generally do NOT recommend theses vaccines for indoor cats. Your kittens and cats should be tested for Felv and FIV when they first enter your house even if there are no other cats at the time. If they test negative for both, I don’t recommend vaccinating unless you plan to expose the cats to stray, outdoor, shelter, feral or any untested cats or kittens. No exposure = No unnecessary vaccines.
Summary of Vaccine Guidelines for CATS
Indoor Cats and Kittens
8 weeks Initial FVRCP vaccine
Test for Felv and FIV if other cats live in the house at this time to avoid exposure.
12 weeks FVRCP booster and Rabies vaccine
Test for Felv and FIV if not done earlier
Adult Indoor Cats
Yearly FVRCP booster and yearly Rabies booster
Kittens can start receiving Felv, Fiv, and FIP vaccines at least one month after FVRCP and Rabies vaccines are given
Initially 2 Felv and 2 FIP vaccines are required the first year
3 FIV vaccines are required the first year
Yearly boosters for FVRCP, Rabies, Felv, FIV, FIP are required for all outdoor cats and kittens.
I hope this clarifies my vaccine philosophy for my patients.
As always I am open to discuss this with any client at phone times. Nothing is etched in granite.