Companion Care
Text size:
two cats.jpg

Vaccinating your cat against disease

It makes sense to vaccinate to keep nasty diseases at bay

Need Cat Advice?

Search our expert cat articles


Keep your cat safe

There’s no better way to protect your cat from some life threatening infectious diseases than by having it vaccinated. It’s something we carry out every day at Vets4Pets – it’s quick, simple and very effective. So don’t let your beloved pet fall victim to life-threatening conditions like cat flu, enteritis or leukaemia. To find out more, just get in touch with Vets4Pets.

When to do it

Kittens are old enough to be vaccinated once they are 8-9 weeks old. Cats that haven’t been vaccinated in the past year will first need a primary vaccination course consisting of two injections given a couple of weeks apart. They should then have a booster jab each year in order to stay protected.

Feline Herpesvirus (FHV) and Feline Calici virus (FCV)

These are two different viruses which are often grouped as ‘cat flu’ because together they cause the majority of upper respiratory tract infections in cats.

They are both contagious and usually transmitted by direct or close contact between cats such as in sneezed droplets or discharge from the eyes; they may also survive for short periods in the environment and so could be transmitted via shared food bowls and litter trays, bedding or grooming aids.

Cat flu signs include sneezing, nasal and eye discharge, conjunctivitis, and mouth ulcers. Clinical signs vary from mild to extremely severe, and occasionally other complications may develop such as pneumonia. With FHV, a bit like cold sores in people, even after the initial signs subside, most cats will remain permanently infected and some will develop flare ups later on especially when their immune system is low.

Treatment for cat flu is based around treating the secondary bacterial infections with antibiotics. Affected cats commonly require supportive treatment as well such as a drip, steam inhalation and nutritional support.

In addition to cat flu, FHV can cause skin and eye problems (keratitis) and FCV can cause painful joints and chronic gingivitis and stomatitis (inflammation of the inside of the mouth). For these signs other treatments might be recommended such as antiviral medication or pain relief.

Both of these viruses are extremely common in our cat population and the disease can be severe which is why vaccination is considered important for all cats. Although vaccination does not always prevent infection with these viruses, it will help greatly in reducing the severity of disease.

Feline Infectious Enteritis (Feline Parvovirus, Panleukopenia virus)

A highly contagious disease, which can be spread through bodily fluids, faeces and fleas as well as contaminated items such as food bowls, bedding, floors and contact by hands. Unfortunately this virus is able to survive for up to several years in the environment and is resistant to many disinfectants. It is therefore the biggest disease threat to any rescue facility and infection carries a very high mortality rate, particularly in unvaccinated kittens.

Cats suffering from the disease will experience sudden vomiting and diarrhoea which is often bloody. Pregnant cats with the virus can pass it onto their unborn kittens which can affect their brain development and cause mobility problems once born.

Unfortunately there is no specific treatment, despite supportive treatments cats will often suffer from severe dehydration and massive secondary infections which result in a poor outcome. Highly effective vaccines are available, however, and all cats and kittens should be vaccinated as this virus is much better prevented than treated.

Feline Leukaemia (FeLV)

This virus attacks the immune system and leaves cats more susceptible to infection and illness as well as prone to developing certain cancers. The disease can be transmitted from other infected cats by mutual grooming, sharing food and water, bites from infected cats or passed on from a queen to her kittens.

During early stages of the disease, cats may not show any signs of illness but as the disease progresses you may notice weight loss, lethargy and other poor health including pale gums, poor coat, fever, diarrhoea and recurrent respiratory tract infections. Infected cats will progressively deteriorate over time.

Sadly there is no specific treatment for this virus. Secondary infections are common due to the destructive nature of the disease on the immune system so treatment will be focused on relieving the cat from pain and discomfort, but their survival rate is much shorter compared to uninfected cats. Any cat that tests positive for FeLV should be isolated from other cats and kept indoors to prevent transmission.

Vac4Life Banner.jpg

Vac4Life health plan


Make huge savings on your pet’s vaccinations when you join our exclusive Vac4Life plan. For only £99.    


More info