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Cat Diseases – What You Need To Know

One of the most important aspects to remember about your cat – is his or her health. I’ll tell you in this article, everything you wanted to know about cat diseases. I warn you, it’s not pretty!

So why vaccinate? It’s just the same has human vaccines. Your kitten or cat is usually injected with a small live sample of the most common and nasty feline viruses out there to help build up their immune system. This sounds odd but the virus injected is so tiny that it just helps to kick-start your cats immune system to start making antibodies.

A kitten’s first vaccine shot against cat diseases should usually commence around 8 weeks of age, and then a booster shot is required around 12 weeks of age, or four weeks from when the first shot was given. The reason for this is that the mothers milk supplies the kitten with all the natural immunity the kitten needs but this natural immunity will drop when weaning occurs. Sometimes the first vaccine won’t be as effective as desired because of this natural immunity, so it is prudent and is required that the booster shot takes place.

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After the booster shot, depending on the type of vaccine your veterinarian has recommended, your kitten will be better protected, but a booster shot will need to be given from one to three years. Annual health checks should always be carried out every year as one cat year is equal to 7 human years! Most catteries do also require the vaccine boosters to be updated every year, but if any doubts, your veterinarian will be able to advise you.

Vaccinating cats from cat diseases is pretty much the same as you would a kitten. The first shot is done and then a booster after four weeks. Once this is done, and depending on the vaccine, a booster shot will be required every one to three years. Even if you are not sure of your cat’s history, it is safer to start from scratch!

Feline Panleukopaenia (Enteritis) Virus
Panleukopaenia is caused by a feline parvovirus (equivalent to the canine parvovirus) and spreads rapidly, causing a severe enteritis (vomiting and diarrhoea) leading to dehydration and anorexia. This one comes with a high death rate. This occurs especially in younger cats but cats of any age can contract the disease. In most cases – this vaccine is compulsory. Cats can catch this from one another through contact or infected clothing or infected environment. The virus can survive on a footpath for months!

Feline Calicivius, Herpes (Rhinotracheitis) Virus and Feline Chlamydia
These three viruses target the upper respiratory system, commonly referred to as snuffles. Once your cat has one of these viruses it can be very hard to get rid of, and can reoccur when your cat is put in stressful situations. Some cats can carry the disease without showing any symptoms. Common symptoms you will see is excessive salivating, runny nose, watery eyes and sneezing. If you are looking at boarding your cat into a cattery, give this one a big tick. In most cases – this vaccine is compulsory. Cats can contract this cat disease through aerosol / droplets (sneezing / coughing).

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)
Feline AIDS is caused by infection with feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). To understand this a bit more, it is the equivalent to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). In New Zealand alone the amount of infected cats is very high – up to 14% of cats are infected with the virus! This vaccine is an elected vaccine, which means you as the owner can choose to protect your cat from this virus. The vaccine is usually given in 3 stages, the initial shot followed by two boosters, four weeks apart and then once every year thereafter. Cats can contract this disease by bite wounds from an infected cat. The virus acts by suppressing the immune system.

If you think your cat is displaying any of these cat diseases listed, then please do not hesitate to ring your veterinarian and make an appointment to get kitty checked out, you may be saving hundreds and thousands of other unvaccinated cats lives! Prevention is the key, so vaccinate your cat to protect against these nasty cat diseases!

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