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Vaccines vs. Titers

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
Some threads I've been reading on this forum prompted me to research a bit about current recommendations for vaccine protocols, vaccine associated sarcoma, etc. My vet has always recommended in the past that my adult cats get annual combo boosters and rabies every two years. No FeLV or FIV for my indoor-only kitties. However, the reading I've been doing seems to indicate that the current recommendations are for boosters every 3 years for the vaccines my cats usually get. Am I understanding this correctly?

If so, I will have to discuss this with my vet. My question is, if there are risks involved with the vaccines, why not just do titers instead of automatically vaccinating at one year, three years, or any other arbitrary time frame? (I realize there are legal requirements pertaining to rabies, but setting that aside for this discussion...) Are the costs of running titers substantially more for the pet owner? Is the profit to the veterinarian substantially less? Is there a risk associated with the titer draw that I am unaware of?

I am just trying to gather some information in order to have my thoughts organized before I approach my vet. I trust him and value his recommendations very much, but I want to be an informed pet owner on this subject. Bastian just got his one year old boosters last month (combo and rabies), and Griffin is due to go in for his. 3yo Sprout is also "due", since according to his records he received his last vaccinations in February 08. At the moment I am leaning toward going ahead with Griffin's boosters for this year. I am also leaning toward going ahead with a set of vaccinations for Sprout, just so I can know for certain he's gotten them. (His last rabies was done with his former owners, and other vaccs done at the HS before they adopted him.) But then I think... wouldn't a titer accomplish that same goal?

Even if I do proceed with that course of action for now, I would like to discuss future plans with my vet. What are your experiences with titers vs. vaccinations?
post #2 of 7
I would talk to your vet about titers. The last time I talked with a vet about titers I was told they aren't really conclusive--i.e. if you were to board your cat or some similar situation, it wouldn't be proof of vaccination. Rabies vaccination is required by law (either 1 yr or 3 yr vaccine) so I couldn't do titers on that anyway.
post #3 of 7
Yes, you are understanding it correctly. The current guidelines are that cats are to be vac'd for rabies at 12-16 weeks, then a 1 year booster, and every 3 years after that depending on the health of the animal. I'm sure you're already aware vaccinations are only to be given to healthy animals.

I don't have any personal experience with Titer testing but from everything I've read, the pros and the cons, a positive titer only gives probable antibody protection and a negative gives no information at all. "Probable" protection is no guarantee of protection and the test itself is more expensive than the vaccine. On the flip side the older vaccines can and do cause VAR's in cats but some of the newer vaccines do not include the immune response inducing chemical that is thought to cause sarcoma's. I found this statement to be rather thought provoking:

The biological part of the vaccine was not found to be causative, but rather the irritant chemical (the adjuvant) that is intentionally added to the vaccine to stimulate an effective immune response. The FVRCP vaccine and the new non-adjuvant Rabies and non-adjuvant Leukemia vaccines are NOT associated with this rare cancer. In response to this discovery, some vaccine manufacturers have developed much safer vaccines without the adjuvant, which are not thought to cause the tumor.

I still do agree that we are way over vaccinating our pets but how to find a safe, happy medium? I still don't think there's a perfect answer out there yet. Until there is we can only do our research and then what we personally think is best.

Here's a good link for companion animal vaccination info:
post #4 of 7
Imho we do need a happy medium ... My vet is convinced that most vaxs last 5-7 yrs( the 1 yr shots) .... but she follows the 3 yr protocol for most( most vets here use it and have for about 5-8 yrs) ...

Titers at either clinic I use are the price of shots and no they boarding places will not take the results
post #5 of 7
What I read about titers is

They only test one part of the immune system and if high - this does not mean that the animal is necessarily optimally protected.
If low, it also does not mean that the animal is UNprotected.
Titers are not recommended by the AAFP as anything to 'hang your hat on'.

From what I have read the longest test that showed a vaccine was still working was 7 1/2 years and the testing was stopped after that.

If you are going to get vaccinations I would recommend if you can afford it (I am not a vet btw) purevax and not which is non-adjuvanted. Many vets do not carry this

I also want to especially talk about distemper here
the distemper vaccine is very effective in preventing the disease.
Recent studies show that if a modified live virus distemper vaccine is administered after six months of age it is effective for life, and that
revaccinating a year later does not improve immunity'
In addition
'Research at the Colorado State Univsersity has shown that the distemper vaccine can cause crf.
post #6 of 7
I can't help much with titre levels and the reliability of them. I agree the less vaccinations you have to give your cats the better for them. On the other hand you need to consider what do you do with your cats if you go away on holidays for any lenght of time? Do you put them in boarding kennels? If you do you would need to keep them vaccinated sufficiently to be able to board them surely. Sheryl
post #7 of 7
I have just posted some links to very good information on feline vaccines at this thread if you are interested.
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