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Near-fatal feline vaccine reaction

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Please pass the word about a problem that has been on the rise lately, and which nearly claimed my 4-legged loved one this weekend - allergic vaccine reactions. My cat (a purebred, kept indoors & pampered silly) went into shock, started vomiting uncontrollably (bloody at one point), and nearly died from such a reaction to a routine vaccination.
Thankfully he recovered with some intensive treatment, but we were apparently very lucky. Our breeder tells us that these incidents are rarely reported by vets, and a check of the FDA website for feline drug reactions shows no vaccines at all. If you have encountered this situation, or know someone who has, please encourage them to report the incident directly to the FDA. The form is at:


I hate to sound like an alarmist, but if this situation really is being covered up, we deserve to know about it before we lose any more of our precious animals to unsafe products.

post #2 of 9
I am so very glad that your cat made it through that horrible ordeal!!! Poor thing! I have moved this thread to the health and nutrition forums, because I thought more people might see it here, when looking for health advice. hope that's okay.
post #3 of 9
By the way...I am really glad you have joined us!
post #4 of 9
Welcome to the forums Bulwonkle and thank you for the warning. I'm glad your cat is better now - that must have been quite a scary experience. How old is your cat? Was that the first round of shots?

I have heard that some cats are sensitive to vaccines and that's why a cat should be observed for 24 hours after vaccination. It is quite rare though (or so I believe - that's the first I've heard of from someone). I know that there is a growing concern with cancers that develop following vaccinations.

Then again, feline distemper is such a terrible disease, I still think it's best to vaccinate and risk the rare reaction. Did the breeder tell you that she/he experienced this with other cats from their stock? I wonder if this is something genetic...

By the way, I've deleted the other thread as it was a double thread on the same issue. We don't want to have people replying to both threads at the same time.
post #5 of 9
I remember when I got Fluffy vaccinated 2 yrs. ago, she had gotten a lump from where the injection site was. The vet said it was normal, but she did warn about certain cancers from the vaccines. As a matter of fact, I need to take Fluffy & Cinammon in..... I haven't got them vaccinated for close to 2 years now, but I've read that booster shots are every 3 yrs after the 1st inintial one. Is it necessary for me to vaccinate them even if they are indoor only cats?
post #6 of 9
Such a dilema. The reactions to the vaccines are not because of an unsafe product. If there is a problem with a batch then yes, it is recalled. There are MANY humans who react to vaccines. You will not know until the animal or person reacts and then their medical records are marked. There are also ways to give the vaccine when necessary and then medicate them so they dont react.
Sometimes yes, you will get a cyst from the vaccines. You never know if it will pop up. They will usually resolve by themselves and they are not cancerous. As far as the schedule for vaccinating, the label on the vaccines state it is good for 1 year. Reason being it is usally a 3 or 4 in one and some are good for one year and some good for 3. They are going to try to go to a 3 year program but the AVMA has not approved it yet.
Indoor cats should be vaccinated every 3 years. By law, Rabies has to be given. If the cat ever snuck out and scratched or bit someone or something and got caught, they would probably quarantine it for 2 weeks and possibly euthanize it. I didnt think it was necessary to vaccinate my 3 becuause they were indoor only. Until I decided to bring home a new rescue. They gave all 3 of my cats an upper respitory and a calici virus. I almost lost one of them. If you even handle another cat and then come home, you may infect your cat.
It is a good idea to report if your cat is a reactor. Then they can get a good idea of what percent reacts. I have 11 and none are..thats pretty good.
post #7 of 9
My cat also had a reaction to a vaccine-not sure which one. We were preparing him for the move to Hawaii and had to give him a whole list of shots that he wouldn't normally get. He's an indoor cat and usually only got his rabies updated. After he got paroled from quarantine here in Hawaii, and finished his 90 day house arrest.he recieved another shot that 1 day later he became listless, vomited several times but was fine by morning. The vet here says she
doesn't recommend vaccinating cats >10yrs.
post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 

A few more details on my experience. My 9 year old Somali, 2 year old Ragdoll, and 1 year old Ragdoll (different breeder) went in for routine vaccinations with killed-virus formulations, or so I reqested and was falsely told to be the case. The Somali and older Ragdoll did fine, but the youngest Ragdoll reacted violently. FWIW, he had no problems with his "3 in 1" kitten vaccine at approx 5 months of age.
After he recovered to some degree, I requested the vaccine name and lot number from the vet. I contacted my breeder with the information, and found that the formulation,
"Eclipse 4", is a combination Rhinotracheitis, Calici, Panleukopenia, Chlamydia Psittaci Vaccine (MLV & Chlamydia) (Schering-Plough). [Hence the name: FV R-C-P vaccination].
This is the combination she says not to give, because of MANY reactions with it that she has anecdotally heard of; also, she indicates that the Chlamydia part is worthless and
potentially harmful. It is also a "modified live virus" formulation, which I have also heard to be undesirable because of the possibility of residual live virus particles being present. I had already read of the injection-site sarcomas which sometimes appear with the FELV vaccines, and decided to have nothing to do with those.

Yes, some cats will do fine and some will react to many formulations, but I believe we have a right to know in advance whether 1 out of 10,000 cats react to a particular
formulation, or 1 out of 3 as in my case. Had I known the latter situation to be the case, I would have demanded a different formulation. Clinical trials prior to release of the formulation test only a small sample of recipients, so the true scope of the situation may only come to light after the drug is released - withess Fen/Phen in humans. If our vets don't want to report such reactions, it's up to us. The FDA exists to ensure that our drug supply is safe and effective, but the process doesn't work if they don't receive the data necessary to identify a problem. Media such as newsgroups, discussion boards, and personal contact seem to be the only way these experiences are being shared, and not everyone is able to access these means of communication.

In any event, I hope that we pet owners can improve the situation by spreading the word that there is a way to report such reactions directly to the FDA, and hopefully produce a more reliable and complete database of reported reactions, if our vets are unwilling to do so. That way, we can hopefully be more informed consumers, and more effective caretakers of our pets. Sad to think that "caveat emptor" applies to doctors and drugs, but with all the news of HMO horror stories with people, it shouldn't be surprising that the same sort of thing is coming into play in the realm of animal medicene.

Thanks for all your kind words in support, and your welcome to the board. Hope to chat with you on some happier topics as soon as our little one recovers a bit more.
post #9 of 9
I have one of my 25 cats who is a domestic and almost died three years ago from a vaccine reaction. That taught me never to give more than one vaccine at a time as we did not know what he was allergic to. Also, there are many purebreds that should not have certain shots or they must have live vaccine versus killed vaccine or visa versa, depending on the breed. When you get a purebred cat, the breeder should list the types of vaccines they should get and at what age. I know that Ragdolls are sensitive to a certain vaccine, but I don't have a ragdoll so I can't be more specific (just things I have picked up from shows or rescue). My Sphynx will never have a Leukemia vaccine as many tend to have reactions.

What we do with Milo (because distemper is such a horrible disease) is vaccinate him every three years (which is what Tufts now recommends) and we have an iv set by in case he has a reaction. All my other cats still get vaccinated every year because we do take in rescues and even though they do not mingle with my personal cats, distemper is an air virus.

We also had a batch of Phzizer drugs that were bad and we had 25 rescues in the vet in one week - two kittens died, one kitten actually came down with the Coleci virus and took two months at the vet to get well enough to come home and all the others had bouts of vomiting, diarhhea, etc. However when we contacted the head vet by phone (they are in Connecticut and so are we), they offered to reimburse us for the vet bills - so don't give up - contact them by phone and ask for one of the vets.

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