Vaccinations available for cats in New Zealand:

Your cat’s vaccination requirements will be determined by where in New Zealand you reside and the lifestyle of your cat. Detailed below are a list of the vaccinations available in New Zealand.

 

Feline Herpesvirus and Feline Calicivirus

 

These two viruses make up the condition commonly known as 'snuffles' or 'cat flu'. Both cause symptoms in the upper respiratory tract such as sneezing, coughing, conjunctivitis and discharge from the nose and eyes. Ulcers on the tongue and chronic inflammation of the gums may also be seen. These are typically associated with infection of the calcivirus rather than herpesvirus.

Infection is spread by close contact with other infected cats. Virus particles are found in eye and nasal discharges along with saliva. The risk of infection is greatest when cats are in close contact situations such as boarding facilities. Recovered cats can still shed the virus and therefore continue to spread the disease for some time without showing any signs.

 

Animals that already have either or both of these viruses in their systems are called carriers. These animals will often have a recurrence of symptoms of disease throughout their lives. It is still important to vaccinate these carrier cats annually as it reduces the number and severity of flare-ups of the disease for those carrier cats.

 

 


 

Feline Panleucopaenia

 

This is an intestinal inflammation caused by a feline parvovirus. This disease is most commonly seen in young kittens and typically causes pale mucous membranes, a very high temperature, lethargy, weakness and diarrhoea. This disease is usually fatal. Abortion may occur in pregnant cats (known as 'queens') and abnormal brain development may be seen in young kittens.

Feline panleucopaenia is spread by direct contact with infected animals and indirectly with contaminated objects, such as food bowls, litter trays and grooming equipment.

 

Feline Chlamydia

 

Feline Chlamydia is a disease causing upper respiratory distress and conjunctivitis. It can also cause infertility and abortion in breeding queens.

A vaccination is available but this can cause a condition called 'delayed lethargy syndrome' which affects approximately 1% of adult cats vaccinated against Chlamydia. Following vaccination, cats may be lethargic and not themselves for up to three months. Kittens under one year of age do not tend to be affected in this way. Because of this, and the fact that feline Chlamydia is much less common than feline herpes and calici viruses, most veterinarians will recommend vaccination only in situations where there is a high risk of the disease, such as multi-cat households and breeding catteries. Other veterinarians will also recommend vaccinating all kittens, both low and high risk, at least up until 1 year of age.

 

Discuss whether vaccination against this disease is recommended for your cat with us.

 

Feline Leukaemia Virus or FeLV

 

This virus causes both cancerous and non cancerous disorders. The virus depresses the immune system predisposing affected cats to other infections and these can often be fatal. FeLV is one of the most important infectious causes of mortality in cats, worldwide. However, in New Zealand the disease is still relatively uncommon (approximately 1%), although there are pockets of increased prevalence of this disease within the country.

 

The virus is generally spread by close contact with other cats and can be spread from the mother to the foetus. It is therefore more common in multi-cat situations, such as a breeding cattery.

 

The vaccine itself has been implicated in causing a tumour at the injection site. The risk is between 1:3,000 and 1:10,000. As a result of this many veterinarians will administer this vaccination in the hind leg or tail. Injection site tumours are observed more easily in these locations leading to earlier diagnosis and more treatment options.

 

Talk to us about the incidence of this disease in your area and also your cat's lifestyle to determine whether this vaccine is recommended for your cat.

 

Feline immunodeficiency Virus or FIV

 

FIV is the feline equivalent to HIV in humans. It attacks the cat's immune system. However, if a cat is diagnosed with FIV, its human companions are not at risk. FIV is specific to cats, as HIV is to humans.

 

Virus particles are found in blood and saliva so FIV in cats is generally spread by biting and scratching, usually during fighting. The disease is becoming more common, with approximately 15% of cats infected nationally. In some areas and in populations of wild cats, the prevalence is much greater. As unneutered males fight extensively, the disease is more common in that group. At present there is no treatment or cure and ultimately this disease is usually fatal, although many cats will live for several years carrying the virus before becoming ill.

 

If your cat is diagnosed with this virus, you will have a responsibility not only for looking after your cat but ensuring that your cat doesn’t spread the disease to other cats. Your veterinarian will discuss all the steps you need to take if your cat is ever diagnosed with this virus.

 

An FIV vaccination has recently become available. If your cat is already older than 6 months of age then a blood test will be required prior to vaccinating with the FIV vaccine. This is primarily because once your cat has had the vaccine it will test positive for the disease even though it is immune (because of the nature of the tests available). Therefore it is important to know if your cat already has the disease or is testing positive due to vaccination. Microchipping at the same time is also recommended to allow permanent identification to ensure that they are recognised as vaccinated cats rather than infected cats.

 

Unlike the other vaccinations available for cats which require two vaccinations 3 - 4 weeks apart for the initial course, the FIV vaccination requires an initial course of 3 vaccinations 2 - 4 weeks apart.

Talk to us about the incidence of this disease in your area and also your cat's lifestyle to determine whether this vaccine is recommended for your cat.

 

Make sure you have discussed all of these diseases with us and made an informed choice regarding which diseases to vaccinate your cat against.

 

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