Vaccinations and Your Cat
Many state and local governments require annual vaccinations of all cats and dogs within their jurisdictions, and a traditional consensus among veterinarians has supported this practice.
Recent research has strongly suggested that these laws - and this practice - is outdated. It has been proven that routine, annual vaccinations of cats and dogs can weaken the animal's immune system, setting the stage for cancer and other auto-immune diseases. In cats, there is a specific type of cancer that develops as a side effect of, and at the location of the vaccine injection, known as "vaccine-induced fibro sarcoma."
While the initial vaccination of kittens is required, and perhaps necessary, your cat shouldn't be automatically vaccinated each year. When you take your cat in for its annual vaccinations, it will routinely be hit with a combination of five or more vaccines, all packaged into a single injection, and the animal's immune system may pay a high price for this convenience.
Medical research has shown that repeated, or unnecessary, vaccinations can contribute to a weakened immune system, contributing to disorders such as arthtritis, skin disease, diabetest, epilepsy, and cancer. Long-term reactions to over-vaccination may be the underlying cause of several auto-immune diseases, leading to heart, liver, or kidney failure.
Talk to your veterinarian about spreading out the vaccinations, and giving only those which are intended to prevent those diseases that are actually prevalent in your geographical area, so that your cat's immune system will have to deal only with those vaccinations that are absolutely required.
Some of the diseases that our cats are routinely vaccinated against are not as serious as the possible consequences of the vaccination itself.
Discuss, with your veterinarian, the option of titer testing, to test the level of antibodies present in your cat's blood, as an alternative to annual revaccinations.
Dr. Robert S. Goldstein, the author of "The Goldsteins’ Wellness & Longevity Program: Natural Care for Dogs and Cats," recommends an approach that would vaccinate kittens only for those diseases that posed a risk, then spreading out the frequency of vaccinations as much as possible, avoiding combination shots.
Although not every veterinarian agrees, this is no longer considered to be a maverick approach. In 2OO1, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) approved this approach to the vaccination of pets, stating that "there currently exists inadequate data to scientifically determine a single best protocol for vaccination or revaccination."
The annual vaccination of pets is based on historical precedent rather than on scientific data, and there is evidence that some vaccinations provide immunity beyond one year, and that some of them may require only one vaccination.
The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) takes a stronger approach, suggesting, in a publication of "Do's and Don'ts" on animal vaccination, that animals not be vaccinated needlessly, or with vaccines that prevent diseases that the animal is not reasonably at risk of contracting. The AAHA also cautions that vaccines are potent, and have a very real potential of producing adverse affects.
What if your veterinarian disagrees, and recommends the traditional annual vaccination routine? Well, each of us has to do what we think best for our pets, understanding that our cats depend on us to make the right decisions for them.
However, it is reasonable to at least be assured that your veterinarian has kept up with current research and recommendations.
If your kitten has received the initial series of reasonably required vaccinations, and a single series of boosters one year later, don't automatically subject her to annual vaccinations thereafter. State and local laws that require annual vaccinations usually refer only to the rabies vaccination.
Consult your veterinarian about testing your cat's immunity with a blood titer test before automatically vaccinating. Some veterinarians may not be familiar with this test; if so, ask them to contact Antech Diagnostics, at 1-8OO-872-1OO1, for information on titer testing.
Other laboratories that perform titer testing include Cornell Diagnostic Laboratory (6O7-253-39OO), IDEXX Veterinary Services (888-433-9987, eastern region; or 8OO-444-421O, western region), and Kansas Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (785-532-565O).
If you live in an area where there is a high incidence of a specific disease, ask your veterinarian to test your cat's immunity level with a simple blood test, known as a serum antibody (titer) test. If the level of antibodies is adequate, the cat doesn't require further vaccination.
Some veterinarians will argue that titer tests are not a hundred percent accurate. This is true, but it is also true that vaccinations aren't a hundred percent effective either.
Discuss the AVMA guidelines with your veterinarian, or seek another opinion from a veterinarian who is open to new thinking on vaccinations.
Unless otherwise specifically required by law, any cat, and especially one that has experienced an adverse reaction to vaccination, can have a titer test measured annually in lieu of revaccination. Annual titer testing will satisfy the requirements of most state and local laws requiring vaccination.