Feline Herpesvirus, Calicivirus and Panleukopaenia. We recommend vaccinating kittens at 9 weeks and again at 12 weeks with a combined vaccine for these three diseases. This is repeated 12 months after the last vaccine and then again once every 3 years, but some cats will require this more frequently (see below “Cats at high risk”)
Feline herpesvirus and calicivirus are two of the main causes of “cat flu/snuffles.” These may cause sneezing, runny eyes & nose, mouth & eye ulcers, loss of appetite and in severe cases death. Infected cats can become lifelong “carriers” of herpesvirus in which case signs may recur when the cat is under stress of any kind. Vaccination will not prevent or cure the carrier state, it will, however, reduce the chance of infection, the severity of the disease and possibly reduce the amount of virus shed.
Feline panleucopaenia is now thankfully uncommon in New Zealand due to vaccination. It is a highly contagious disease causing loss of appetite, diarrhoea, vomiting, extreme lethargy, dehydration and frequently death. Vaccination is very effective at preventing the disease.
Cats at “High Risk”– Cats are at a higher risk of infection particularly with cat flu viruses if they come into boarding catteries, go to cat shows, or have frequent contact with stray cats. These cats may benefit from a more frequent vaccination against herpesvirus and calicivirus – we recommend an annual booster vaccination or booster at least 2 weeks before going into a cattery.
FIV = Feline Immunodeficiency Virus This is an infectious disease transmitted most commonly by deep bite wounds. It affects the cat’s immune system making it unable to respond properly to infections. It is a very dangerous disease, but is not as contagious as the flu and panleukopenia, and can take a long time to become apparent, some infected cats will not show any clinical signs for many years. Also, the vaccine available has not been made specifically for New Zealand and has not been proven (though it is accepted to be) protective against the main subtype of the disease present in New Zealand.
We recommend vaccination against FIV only for cats who are likely to be outdoors in areas with many other cats/cats that fight a lot. Vaccination involves an initial series of 3 injections 3 weeks apart then 1 vaccination once yearly.
We recommend the cat be microchipped if it is being vaccinated (this is so it can be identified as being vaccinated – the most common test for the disease will not distinguish between vaccinated and infected cats).
If the cat is over 6 months of age at the initial vaccination it will need a blood test first to make sure it is not already carrying the disease.
Vaccines are available but we do not recommend them unless cats are deemed at specific risk for :
Feline Leukaemia Virus – because it is extremely rare in New Zealand.
Chlamydia – because the vaccination for it carries a higher risk of side effects, and the disease is quite easily treated if it does occur
We hope this has been useful to you, please do not hesitate to discuss any questions you may have with one of our veterinarians. Information last updated October 2010