Preventative Medicine is the best medicine. It is important to use our resources to prevent suffering and illness with routine prevenative care and vaccinations, instead of undergoing grueling and often expensive treatment of illness once heatlh problems have advanced.
Virtually every cat will be exposed to this virus, infection occurs when the virus enters the body through the mouth or nose. Whether illness results or not depends on the immunity in the victim vs. the number of individual virus particles entering the body. Most people have heard of feline distemper only because the distemper vaccine represents a core vaccine for our pet cats. Because the vaccine is highly effective, most cat owners do not have a lot experience with the actual feline distemper infection.Caused by a parvovirus, this is a life-threatening disease. The virus is considered ubiquitous, meaning it is found in virtually every place that is not regularly disinfected. The infection is highly contagious among unvaccinated cats, which are usually kittens and young adult cats living in groups. Our local barn cats, and feral colonies label this a high risk area for infectious feline distemper. Vaccination begins at 6 weeks of age and is continued every 3-4 weeks until recieiving a series of 2 after 12 weeks of age, at this time the vaccine is made good for 1 year and needs to be boostered annually every year thereafter. Every cat, both indoor and outdoor should be vaccinated for distemper yearly, there is curently no research that supports a 3 year feline distemper vaccine nor any that suggests it is safe to stop vaccinating at any age.
Thought to be a concern in only underdeveloped countries rabies is still a very real threat to our pets and families. Establishing infection requires direct contact with infected mucous membranes. In most cases, disease is transmitted through a bite wound. Only mammals are susceptible to infection, and wildlife is the primary animal group where infection occurs. When wildlife comes into contact with our pets, rabies becomes a public health problem. Despite vaccination being readily available, every year the U.S. reports hundreds of dog and cat deaths from rabies, not to mention several human deaths. Rabies remains an important and nearly untreatable illness even now in the 21st century so it is crucial we do our part to keep our pets currently vaccinated to ensure this virus does not become an epidemic in our area. In our clinic we start vaccinating for rabies at 16 weeks of age which will need to be boostered 1 year there after and susequently every year for life. There is currently no research that supports a 3 year rabies vaccine for felines or that it is safe to stop vaccinating at any age.
Feline leukemia virus, a retrovirus, is a common infection of cats. It is the cause of more cat deaths, directly or indirectly, than any other organism and is widespread in the cat population. the disease is trasmitted several ways:
by the saliva of infected cats contaminating the eye, mouth, and nose membranes of non-infected cats via licking.
by passing infected blood to non-infected cats.
from mother to fetuses (developing kittens) during pregnancy.
Degenerative diseases may occur in any of the tissues invaded by the virus, or the virus may be indirectly responsible for other illnesses because of its immunosuppressive effect. A large percentage of the cats that are exposed to the virus will have hidden infections and will be capable of transmitting the disease in saliva, blood, and urine. Some of these unkown carriers will become clinically ill when stressed. All kittens and adults with unknown history should be test for feline leukemia. If negative vaccines are started 6 weeks of age and are boostered every 3-4 weeks until our last vaccine has been given after 12 weeks of age which is then good for 1 year, subsequently the vaccine needs to be given annually as long as your cat's lifestyle permits.