Why do Cats need Annual Vaccinations when People don't?

(30 Posts)
lljkk Fri 07-Dec-12 11:30:34

Are cat immune systems rather pants? Their supplemental wild diet too ridden with horrors? The cat jabs just not very effective?

I am usually very pro-jabs, but am wondering why cat owners are advised to get their pets boosters every year for up to 20 years and more, when most humans can manage 80+ years on a max. of 5-6 shots, often just 1 or 2 vaccinations will confer lifelong immunity. And we are pretty filthy creatures ourselves, on the whole.

Locally offered cat jabs for Feline leukemia, FIV & Cat flu. Does the cat flu get updated every year, maybe, like human flu jab?

lljkk Mon 10-Dec-12 15:51:14

That's helpful, thanks Lonecat.

Lonecatwithkitten Mon 10-Dec-12 13:58:00

Because in most people flu is a miserable, but not life threatening disease. Whereas in most cats flu is a life threatening disease.
Human flu is caused by influenza viruses. Cat flu is caused by calici virus and Herpes virus. The diseases may have the same name, but are vastly different. If cats catch the herpes part if they survive the first initial disease they become chronically infected typically suffering from an out break every 8 to 12 weeks making these cats very miserable.
I treat quite a large number of chronic herpes cats and when they have a flare they are so miserable this alone makes me feel we should ensure protection.

Fluffycloudland77 Mon 10-Dec-12 09:08:47

I think the human flu jab is down to funding, the adult population is bigger than the childrens one so to mass vaccinate would cost more than they can afford. So the risk groups are done because basically they risk dying.

Are you going to vaccinate this cat?

lljkk Mon 10-Dec-12 08:04:05

... But most humans don't get annual jabs against flu, either. We don't have any herd immunity on that one, either. So back to why should cats be more protected than people usually are (leaving aside animal rights' type views).

Fluffycloudland77 Sun 09-Dec-12 22:18:27

One of our kittens got flu from her first jabs, I am going back 27 years though, she was the runt of her litter and got put back with mum to recover (she was a chinchilla persian pedigree, we had 3).

She pulled through, she was a feisty madam. Size of a kitten, temperament of a bengal tiger whose cub had been threatened.

PlaySchool Sun 09-Dec-12 21:36:49

My vaccinated cat got cat flu. Apparently, it is like the human flu vaccination In that it changes every year. Therefore, you might be vaccinated against one type of flu but get ill with another type.

She recovered quickly, by the way smile

cozietoesie Sun 09-Dec-12 10:04:53

I guess so - re the priorities. I'm going to have to mull on and do some work on this one over the festive season. Those figures are appalling.

I think you may be right, sadly, about some people's perception of vets charges. Not I, I should say. My vets have always dealt very reasonably with me indeed - to the point where I've sometimes wondered how they keep their practices' heads above water, financially.

Lonecatwithkitten Sat 08-Dec-12 23:11:41

I am afraid that really for most cat charities the biggest problem is keeping the population under control so all of their efforts have to go into neutering.
There is a perception that we vets peddle annual vaccination as a money spinner, believe you me this is barely bread and butter. It is in fact the unvaccinated animals who are sick with these disease require extensive tests and treatment to try save them that actual provide some jam.

cozietoesie Sat 08-Dec-12 22:39:34

That quite shocks me, Lone. I'm not suggesting that vets have the sole responsibility for doing more to get vaccination levels and vet attendance for checks etc up (that's all of our responsibility) but aren't any bodies working on this?

Lonecatwithkitten Sat 08-Dec-12 22:35:02

The figures come from MAI national status that large numbers of vets contribute to every quarter they only cover pets that have been active I.e. seen in the last 3 years so probably over estimate the proportion of vaccinate cats. Yes there will be a small amount of overlap that quickly disappears due to only active pets being counted. Even the very top (hardest sell) practices in the country only achieve around 55% of their active cat population vaccinated.
Regarding USA shelter medicine stats they are maybe not the 'cleanest' out there and should always be taken with a good dose of salts.
You would be stunned at the number cats that are presented for neutering and then never seen again till they are euthanised in late teenage years. These cats only get neutered when charities run a free neutering scheme like our CPL does each March.

RedwingWinter Sat 08-Dec-12 21:20:42

That's a really sad story about the cat that didn't get FeLV boosters and died.

I saw a summary of an American study recently that tested cats coming into a shelter to see if they had had previous vaccination. You can read it here. They tested for the vaccines that cats are recommended to get. For one of them (FHV-1) only 11% of the cats had evidence of protection, although for the other two things (FPV and FCV) it was higher; nearly 40% and 37%. Of course you could argue that cats entering shelters aren't typical (they are the unfortunate ones who have gone stray, or who have been given up by their owners), but those are still low rates.

cozietoesie Sat 08-Dec-12 19:26:38

As far as I know, the only one that might not be indicated for him as a house cat is the feline leukaemia one. I assume your other moggies are all up to date on that one but if not and in light of possible (even minor) spats - as he's a new cat - I'd get him the whole range.

lljkk Sat 08-Dec-12 19:13:02

How many vet-registered cats are dead, I wonder? I mean, it wouldn't be on my mind to inform the vet if cat died. And if I moved house I'd not bother to inform old vet, I'd just end up visiting new one in new area, so cat would be listed with 2 vets then, no? (DH was listed with 2 NHS surgeries for years, too).

Or if I took the same cat to different vets in area for different procedures (not unlikely), the same cat could be listed in multiple places.

The new cat we're taking on has not had jabs since he was a kitten; prev. owner says he was told by vet that jabs unnecessary because he was an indoor-only cat. He has no interest in going out, but he does come into contact with our other moggies who go out lots. So do I get indoor cat jabs or not?

cozietoesie Sat 08-Dec-12 18:01:12

That sounds extraordinarily low to me - particularly given some of the surveys and studies which have been carried out. For cats as a whole I could maybe understand it (given (non) vaccination in the wild population) but for vet-registered cats, I find it difficult to comprehend.

Fluffycloudland77 Sat 08-Dec-12 17:53:22

Our vet uses purevax, I never realised so many owners dont vaccinate.

cozietoesie Sat 08-Dec-12 17:44:14

Blimey - 35%?? I thought it was closer to 75% on first vaccination at least. That's absolutely dreadful, Lonecat. Are people just coming once and then not reappearing - or demurring when you suggest it? (I realize you can't force them to do it.)

Thanks for the rest of the info. Interesting.

Lonecatwithkitten Sat 08-Dec-12 17:36:20

Won't be able link till next week as access to work computer. The flu that is evolving is the calici virus. As with humans different types of diseases require different types of immunity be it local, cell mediated or humoral. These different types of immunity last different lengths of time and if not booster by exposure in the environment fade and example of fading humans would be rabies we know from titre studies that it fades after about 3 years, another would be tetanus fades at about 10 years. The particular type of virus that FeLV is means it is sneaky and if the immune system is not well primed for the virus can sneak past. We had a cat a few weeks ago who had had primary course and first yearly booster and then lapsed by 2.5 years and caught FeLV and died.
We are waiting to see if the new canary pox technology in the Purevax vaccine improved FeLV immunity due to it's novel delivery method, but it is too early yet to be able to extend vaccination times . Plus this technology is only in one vaccine which only about 20% of vets use so won't make a difference to the general population,
Also the fact that national figures show that only 35% of cats registered with vets are vaccinated means that herd immunity is not yet at a level that would enable experimenting with increased vaccination interval.

lljkk Sat 08-Dec-12 13:01:47

Lonecat later on can you supply some links to the immunity studies you mention? Would be helpful. Thx.

I understand cat flu evolving, but why are cat immune systems kind of rubbish for the other bugs? Are cats just not meant to live that long?

Lonecatwithkitten Fri 07-Dec-12 22:34:04

There are various studies that have looked at the duration of immunity in cats. The results of these suggested that unboosted immunity for FeLV after about 15 months, Flu (calici and herpes) again about 15 months and panleucopaenia 3 years hence why we give flu/FeLV every year and panleucopaenia every third year.
The FIV vaccine used in other countries does not provide sufficient protection to gain a licence in the UK.
Sorry at home so don't have access to trial data.
With The advent of the Supercalici it is particularly important to keep this boosted as this is invariably fatal.

RedwingWinter Fri 07-Dec-12 18:16:32

Re pertussis (whooping cough) the jab doesn't give life-long immunity and it is possible to get it as an adult even if vaccinated as a child. The jab is now recommended for pregnant women so that they pass on immunity to their baby for the first few weeks, until baby is old enough to be vaccinated at 2 months.

Like fluffy, I had a polio and diptheria booster too. And if you travel, boosters might be recommended for other things too. I think sometimes they aren't sure how long immunity lasts for.

Another thing to consider is that vaccination in people has been widespread enough to make some diseases disappear, or become very rare. This doesn't apply to cats so they are still quite likely to come across the diseases that we vaccinate them against.

lljkk Fri 07-Dec-12 18:13:30

I feel hmm about folk who never vaccinate their cat, too.
Every medical treatment/action has a possible risk, though, it's inevitable. Shouldn't ignore that. And a cost. It's not like these things are only net benefits.
I just wish the research was better about what's truly necessary.
My guess is that uptake would be better if there were solid research.

cozietoesie Fri 07-Dec-12 18:02:08

Well that's another perspective lljkk. What I read though is that the clinicians and scientists don't really seem to know yet; so the decision is ours and I'm making it for annual jabs where Seniorboy is in the apparent risk group. If new research indicates clear optimal vaccination intervals, I'll consider those carefully.

What also concerns me, equally but more generally, is that such a significant proportion of the cat population appears not to be vaccinated at all (about a quarter of the domestic population I think - and as for the wild population who knows) so that there are a variety of diseases still out there and going strong.

Fluffycloudland77 Fri 07-Dec-12 17:35:22

The main one is flu though, is there flu the same as ours eg ever changing?

lljkk Fri 07-Dec-12 17:27:50

If you scaled everything down from human to cat years... would be looking at: human (cat)

Pertussis, tetanus, HIb +few others
jabs at a few months old (few months old)
2nd round jabs at 4yo (1yo)
no more for life

Or MMR:
1yo (few months old)
2nd round at 4yo (1yo)
no more for life

Or tetanus, polio:
5x in life confers full immunity (?unknown, but scaling down.. 2-3x for lifelong to be conferred?)

Really it's only the flu-type things where we humans might benefit from annual jabs.

cozietoesie Fri 07-Dec-12 17:04:45

Interesting perspective there, Fluffy - about your own jabs. I think if you read that article in depth, it more or less says 'the experts aren't sure at the moment'. Until the experts are sure, and can offer authoritative advice on optimal vaccination intervals, I'll keep on getting Seniorboy jabbed every year (although he's not in the risk group for feline leukaemia so doesn't get that one.)

All of his three vets have agreed with that decision.

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