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Feline Infectious Diseases & Vaccination

Many diseases are caused by bacteria and viruses which can result in serious disease and death. As these diseases are often incurable, vaccination plays an important part in disease prevention.


The purpose of vaccinating your cat is to prevent the development of disease by either preventing them from catching the virus, or if they do get infected, by limiting the severity and the effects of any infection.


It is recommended that all infectious cat diseases currently present in New Zealand be vaccinated against.


Feline Panleukopaenia (Enteritis)

This virus is a close relative of Canine Parvovirus. It attacks the small intestine, lymph nodes and

bone marrow. It is transmitted through the ingestion of bodily fluids (saliva/vomit/faeces/urine)

and direct or indirect contact with an infected cats food or water bowls. The incubation period for

this virus is 2-10 days.

Symptoms Include: Depression, anorexia, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, persistent vomiting, fever,

anaemia, death.


Feline Rhinotracheitis (Cat Flu)

This is an upper respiratory disease caused by the Feline Herpes virus. It attacks the epithelial cells

and conjunctiva. It is transmitted by mucous droplets through sneezing and can live in the

environment for up to eight days. Cats can become carriers of this disease shedding it intermittently

when suffering from stress or anxiety. The incubation period is 1-10 days.

Symptoms Include: Sneezing, anorexia, pneumonia, depression, ulceration of the cornea, ocular

and nasal discharge, death.


Feline Calcivirus (Cat Flu)

This is an upper respiratory disease caused by multiple strains of the Feline Herpes Virus. It attacks

the epithelial cells and conjunctiva. It is transmitted by mucous droplets in the air through sneezing.

These strains of infection cannot survive in the environment however, cats can become carriers of

the disease. Infected cats can shed the virus for two weeks. The incubation period is 1-5 days.

Symptoms Include: Anorexia, pneumonia, conjunctivitis, bacterial infections, oedema, jaundice,

sneezing, nasal discharge, mouth ulceration.


Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (Feline Aids)

This is a virus which is the causative agent for Feline AIDS and suppresses the immune system. Cats

may appear clinically normal for years before showings symptoms of the disease. It is transmitted

sexually or through saliva from cat bites or scratches. It can be passed on from a pregnant queen

to her neonates duering pregnancy. This disease does not survive in the environment. The

incubation period is 1 week - years.

Symptoms Include: Sudden onset of coughing, retching, gagging, enlarged lymph nodes,

secondary infections, conjunctivitis, nasal discharges, gingivitis, diarrhoea, fever, severe weight

loss.


There are two further infectious diseases which are not routinely vaccinated against however, these can be administered by your veterinarian upon request.


Feline Leukaemia Virus

This is a highly infectious viral disease. It attacks the lymphoid tissue, bone marrow and other soft

tissues. It is transmitted through direct contact with bodily fluids (cat bites/grooming) or through

pregnancy and feeding. This strain of virus can live in a dry environment for up to two hours or a

damp environment for two days. Some cats may be infected and carry the disease with no obvious symptoms but will shed the disease when suffering from anxiety or stress.

Symptoms Include: Anaemia, leukaemia, immune suppression, enteritis, abortions, infertility.


Feline Clamydiosis

The is a chronic upper respiratory disease caused by intracellular bacteria. It attacks the

conjunctiva and reproductive tract. It is transmitted through direct contact with infected cats and

mucosal discharges from the mucous membranes, eyes, nose, gastrointestinal tract and genital

tract. The incubation period is 4-10 days.

Symptoms Include: Anorexia, coughing, difficulty breathing, fever, pneumonia, nasal discharge,

sneezing, conjunctivitis.


Recommended Vaccination Protocol

Initially, a primary course of injections will be administered. The number of injections required and type of injection will depend on the age of the animal, pre-existing immunity, general state of health, and the overall risk factors.


Kitten - 6 to12 weeks old:

2 - 3 vaccinations will be needed to complete the primary course.

Kitten – over 12 weeks old:

2 vaccinations will be needed to complete the primary course.

Adult Cat whose vaccination cover has lapsed:

2 vaccinations will be needed to complete the primary course.


Your cat will have no lasting vaccination immunity if they do not receive the full course as listed above. Protection will not be complete until 10 days following the last vaccination in the series. Until these 10 days have passed, your cat should remain inside your home and avoid any direct contact with unvaccinated cats.


Once the initial vaccination course has been completed, your cat will require a booster vaccination within the advised time frame for the brand of vaccination administered. Vaccinations require boosters every 12 months to 3 years. These visits will include a thorough health check and will give you the opportunity to ask any questions about your cats health that may have been concerning you. It is strongly advised that all cats should receive an annual health check regardless of whether their vaccinations are up to date or not.


Vaccination is a cats only form of disease prevention. They rely on us to take care of their health and wellbeing, so pull out your vet book and ensure your cats vaccinations are up to date today.



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