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Vaccines for Indoor only cats

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
I've seen a lot of conflicting information about feline vaccines, I used to have Midir and Etain vaccinated, but then Etain had a very severe reaction requiring hospital care and that really scared me. Someone told me that most feline vaccines do more harm than good, that they cause serious health problems and that they had opted not to vaccinate their cats. Obviously, that's a little vague, and I have mixed feelings on the subject. But I have always found this idea of annual vaccines a bit strange since we don't do that for humans in most cases. I've interrogated a few different vets ... and it seems like there are many answers are there are vets and cat people in the world. But usually the vets want to vaccinate no matter what (even the ones who acknowledge that it may not be necessary), I guess that's just easier for them, but if it puts my pet at risk of getting sick again or worse, I'm more than a little concerned. Since my cats have been strictly apartment cats and I never handle other people's animals, I have not had to worry too much about annual vaccines, I feel like the risk of infection has been pretty much non-existant, so I've had it easy. But now we are moving into a house, and while they will still be indoor cats, there are some outdoor cats in the neighborhood who seem to hang out in the back yard, the neighbor has cats etc ...
And I guess, long story short, my question is, is it possible for me to track something in on my shoes or clothes or could I be a carrier for any feline illnesses that would put them at risk? Are any feline diseases airborne to the point where a cat hanging out in the yard could infect my indoor cats?
Also, I saw another thread that said annual boosters are no longer recomended for most vaccines, that older cats have a natural immunity to many feline diseases and that the kitten vaccines create a life time immunity ... but I could not see whether this information had been verified or if it was false.
Also, I've seen mention of a titer test for immunity to common feline diseases, has anyone had this done? Any idea of the accuracy of the test or a ball park figure of how much it should cost?

Ok, that was more than one question
post #2 of 21
I can not help you much, but I saw the Animal Vet and I did notice a lot of pets that are vaccinated had bad reactions. The bad thing is I asked the Vet in CA if it was common he said very very rare, but here in the country my vet said no he sees it alot. He said he respected my wishes if I did not vaccinate. He would never judge me differently and it was everyones personal option. He said that reading alot on it would be helpfully.
post #3 of 21
They should always get a rabies booster and always in the back leg. It is against the law for you to not give them it in most places. The back leg minimizes the chance of them dying from vaccine sarcoma, as they can amputate it (super rare complication).
Aside from their kitten shots, I'm not sure. Our vet said she was done with shots for life aside from rabies after her second round of kitten shots.

And never ever ever ever get the FeLV shot.
post #4 of 21
Originally Posted by Zissou'sMom
And never ever ever ever get the FeLV shot.
post #5 of 21
I only need to give mine the flu/enteritis shot with mine being indoors.

I don't bother with the Felv because i'd like to think that the chances of them getting outside were very slim.

I know theres discussions here at the moment with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons to see if a yearly shot is needed, and instead be 2 or 3 years or something?!.

I take my two for their yearly checkups next month so i'll be asking if anything more has happend on the subject.
post #6 of 21
I give the reabies because

1. I have to law
2. I have to in order to get them licenced.
post #7 of 21
Its pretty hard to transfer most things via clothing, but rabies is required for very good reason.

My cats get all the standard stuff like panleukopenia, but the FeLV is definitely a lifestyle vaccine and NOT recommended unless the cat is going to be indoor/outdoor. They also get frontline because I'm around animals with external parasites all day long. I think that's worth giving. In the off chance you carry in a flea or something from the outdoors or another animal, you are protecting them against that kind of infestation as well as anything the flea might be carrying.

The titer will tell you if the cat has been exposed to a disease and therefore mounted an immune response against it. A cat can show positive results on a titer just because of vaccination, but that does not mean they have the disease.
post #8 of 21
When in doubt you can always have blood titers run to see that which your kitty has the antibodies for.

Mine get rabies every three years as per new protocol, and blood titers run every other year.
Other vaccs depend entirely on titers and what MIL may have been exposed to as she runs a rescue from her home.
post #9 of 21
Rabies is required here by law. If possible I would check into the newer shots that are good for 3 years. My vet doesn't have that shot available yet, but he thinks very highly of the PureVax rabies vaccine. He says this type has the least incidence of side effects and the lowest risk of developing sarcomas.

I do not give Dori the FELV shot. She had it as a kitten and became very sick. My vet advised me that I didn't need to worry about it since she is indoor only.

They have a new intranasal FIP vaccine that some vets are offering now. I researched this and decided against it. I found it to be very controversial and not something Dori needs anyway.

She does get another shot that I can't remember the name of right now (it's on the tip of my tongue ). I go with this one every 3 years. It is a combo vaccine that includes distemper...
post #10 of 21
FeLV vaccine is not even offered at the vet Zissou got her shots at. They said whether it actually gives the cats any immunity at all is debatable and often has serious side effects. So basically, they've decided that it probably does more harm than good, unless you think your cat has a specific risk for being infected, such as being outside most of the time or living (gasp) with a cat with FeLV. Although, there are several studies online that say it does work and is just as safe as anything else... I don't know, the vets she went to are also the vets for an animal shelter, and I think I'm going to trust them on this one.
post #11 of 21
I have to actually take it back. I did the revolution on the cat and dog. I also gave Skittles everything I could because I had not read up yet. She is good for 1 year. My husband gave her the shots last year at the vet and I have no clue where her old record is. She was his baby. So I figured I had no clue so to make sure I did it again. Now the puppy I am not sure but I know I do the heartworm and the rabies. I need to read up before the others.
post #12 of 21
I gave everyone one a full round of FVRCP as they were shelter cats and all had herpesvirus.

I did take them in for rabies shots at one point (they are all only 6 months old yet), but my vet was (thankfully) kind of meh about rushing it which pleased me to no end. Anything they have to do on an "expendable" limb is something I can do without as long as possible.

I know it is illegal, but they aren't "on the books" in the first place. I know they'll probably have to get it at some point, and I'll do it without griping.
But as 100% indoor cats in an adult only household with little chance of escape I do not see the need.

I am very anti-vaccine minded anyway, so if a three year rabies is all that is required by law that is all they will be getting. I've had vaccine free dogs (again except rabies) for decades. For me I find that feeding properly to encourage a functional immune system is the best defense against disease.
post #13 of 21
A question in relation to this post: Anyone know where can I find if a rabies vaccine is required by law for my state?.

Lol...never mind...found it. I googled "animal control" and found the one for my area. They had all the information there. Ya know...I had no idea it was a legal requirement for California to not only have them be given rabies vaccinations every 36 months, but to also have them licensed! Oh man...I've been breaking the law for almost two years now, and didn't even KNOW!! Wow...

So...those of you that live in California...PLEASE take note of it. EEK!

Here's the text from the Los Angeles County Code concerning it:

10.20.220 Requirements generally.

A. Every person keeping, harboring, or having any dog or cat over four months of age in the unincorporated territory shall cause such dog or cat to be vaccinated with rabies vaccine, by a person licensed by the state of California, or other state, to practice veterinary medicine, on or before the latest of the following dates:
1. 15 days after first acquiring such dog or cat;
2. 15 days after bringing such dog or cat into the unincorporated territory of the county of Los Angeles.
B. No person shall cause a dog or cat under the age of four months to be vaccinated with an approved rabies vaccine unless a veterinarian licensed by the state of California, or other state, determines that such vaccination is required to preserve the health or prevent the disability of such dog or cat. (Ord. 93-0002 § 3 (part), 1993: Ord. 88-0025 § 1, 1988: Ord. 87-0036 § 10, 1987: Ord. 83-0182 § 9, 1983: Ord. 10298 § 3, 1971: Ord. 9454 § 1 (part), 1967: Ord. 4729 Art. 5 § 501, 1946.)

10.20.230 Revaccination time -- Rabies vaccine.

Every person keeping, harboring, or having a dog or cat in the unincorporated territory of the county which has been vaccinated with an approved rabies vaccine shall cause such dog or cat to be revaccinated within a period of not more than:
A. 12 months after the dog's or cat's initial vaccination if the dog or cat was between four months and one year in age at the time of such vaccination;
B. 36 months after each prior vaccination. (Ord. 93-0002 § 3 (part), 1993: Ord. 87-0036 § 11, 1987: Ord. 85-0204 § 12, 1985: Ord. 10298 § 4, 1971: Ord. 9454 § 1 (part), 1967: Ord. 4729 Art. 5 § 502, 1946.)

10.20.030 License -- Required -- Costs.

Every person owning or having custody or control of any dog or cat over the age of four months in the unincorporated territory of the county of Los Angeles shall obtain a license from the director for each of such dogs and cats and shall pay the fees for such licenses as set forth in Section 10.90.010. (Ord. 93-0002 § 2 (part), 1993: Ord. 90-0137 § 11, 1990.)

10.20.190 Keeping unlicensed dogs or cats prohibited.
A person, shall not harbor or keep, or cause or permit to be harbored or kept, any unlicensed dog or cat in the unincorporated territory of the county of Los Angeles, or in any city in Los Angeles County which has adopted this Title 10. (Ord. 2000-0075 § 28, 2000: Ord. 93-0002 § 2 (part), 1993: Ord. 9454 § 1 (part), 1967: Ord. 4729 Art. 4 § 402, 1946.)
post #14 of 21
ask your vet. Mine told Me I did.
post #15 of 21
Curious about the FeLV vaccine and the controversy surrounding it. In February, I lost my beautiful tuxedo Gateway who was 2 yrs. old, to FeLV. It was all so sudden and very tragic. He was the son of a stray we had taken in. Also kept Gateway's sole littermate. After Gateway's death, I had the other two tested fearing of course the worst. Miraculously, both Carmen (the Mom) and Voodoo (the littermate) tested negative. I have had them vaccinated at the vet's recommendation because they do go outside. Neither had any negative reaction. Feedback, please! Both of my kitties are also vaccinated against rabies.
post #16 of 21
Thread Starter 
I decided to do a lot more reading on this subject, there's tons of information out there, here are links to some of the better sites I've found so far.

From the World Small Animal Veterinary Association's web site


Misc. Links



American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (not an official web site)


The Winn Feline Foundation


American Veterinary Medical Association


Cornell Feline Health Center


WGN of Chicago's Pet Central


There's a ton of information on these pages, and some of it is conflicting becuase there is an ongoing heated debate on the subject of feline vaccines. The conclusion I draw at the end of this is that there really are no set standards that all vets agree on. The decision of what vaccines to give, when and how often needs to be made on a cat by cat basis, depending on the cat's health, age, risk of exposure, the law and the owner's preference.

Personally, this means that I have a lot more research to do before I'll feel comfortable making a decision regarding vaccines, and even then, I'll probably still have my doubts. While I trust the vet, I feel that on the subject of vaccines, their point of view is much different than mine. They usually want to vaccinate for everything they can as often as they can for the sake of public health and disease control (even though some studies show that overvaccinating is ineffective), they can't trust every owner who walks through the door to do the right thing by their pets, to keep unvaccinated cats indoors, to bring them in for check ups and to reduce or eliminate their risk of infection. From my point of view, I know that I can trust myself to do the right thing, and I want to reduce their risk of disease and vaccine complications as much as possible. I think its a tricky thing to balance, but I'm going to start by requesting a titer to find out what they are and aren't immune to, then take it from there.
post #17 of 21
Thanks for the information - will start sifting throught it all. In the end, you are right, you've got to be your own advocate and make decisions based on knowledge you've gleaned independently along with advice from your vet.

I have switched vets since I lost Gateway - in part because I had taken Gateway to see my former vet 4 days before we wound up at an emergency clinic and had to put him down. Aside from possibly missing the seriousness of Gateway's condition - he had never even mentioned FeLV to me - and he was aware that my kitties do go outside. Long story short, you've got to do your homework and be as knowledgeable as you can in order to do the right and responsible thing in caring for your pets. Thanks again for providing the links.
post #18 of 21
That was a lot of work. Thank you. Maybe a mod will make those links part of the information for this site. Like we have the pregnancy links and kitten links.
post #19 of 21
In the end, Etain, you're completely right...we all have to make our own decisions on it. I mean, obviously, follow the law and do what's necessarily legally with your animals, but as far as other vaccines, it's up to each person that owns ANY kind of animal to read up on it, ask around, and come to their own conclusion.

As for myself, since my babes don't go outside, and have NO way of going outside (as the only open window, even, is in the bathroom, and the bathroom's closed off to them, due to Hobbes' passion of eating the hair out of the bathtub drain...blech), I won't be doing anything additional to the rabies vaccine they're required to have by law. Obviously, I'll have them checked regularly for things, but aside from that, I'll just stick to the rabies vaccine.

Thanks for all your wonderful, information, guys!!

Kittybosanta, I'm so sorry for what happened to your Gateway...poor sweetie!
post #20 of 21
I have one outdoor and one indoor cat and both of my cats get all their vaccines and I do the flea treatments from May to October just to be safe. I make sure both of my cats are protected and stay healthy.

Prevention is the best action for any animal that you own.

post #21 of 21
I don't have mine vaccinated against FeLV, I have heard of a few kittens who have died after having the jab, and the local rescue went to a seminar where they were advised against it - their vet also advises against it for older cats as they will prob have built their own immunity to it. When I took mine to be vaccinated last year, the vet wanted to do it without even testing them for it (one had been tested 3 months before, but had gone out since), and when I refused, told me that she had never seen any side effects in 8 years of vaccinating, yet I know rescue people who have seen kittens die from it.
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