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Since the quantity of proposed kitten shots grows, the entire idea of whether to vaccinate your kitten has turn into more and more debatable. A couple of years in the past, most cats and kittens were simply vaccinated against a couple infectious illnesses and people endorsed that these vaccines were necessary in order to safeguard their cats and kittens and eliminate the disease.

But today, as vaccines are produced for additional and more diseases, it is becoming clear that in a few cases vaccines can end up being more harmful than the illness which they were designed to protect against. Therefore should you vaccination your cat at all, and if so, which vaccines should you select?

There are actually five standard vaccines which are recommended for essentially all felines. These are:

– Distemper (Panleukopenia virus) – Rabies – FIE (Feline infectious enteritis) – FHV (Feline herpes virus, rhinotracheitis, 'cat flu') – FCV (Feline calicvirus, another type of 'cat flu')

Beyond those, a number of additional vaccines are available and may be offered to your cat. These include:

– FIV (Feline immunodeficiency virus, or 'feline AIDS'): recommended for aggressive cats, or felines dwelling with an aggressive cat. However this virus is not always effective.

– FeLV (Feline leukemia virus): advised for cats who spend time outdoors and mix with other cats, or who have contact with a cat known to have FeLV.

– Feline chlamydiosis: perhaps only necessary if the cat is known to be in contact with another cat who has the disease, although it may be given routinely in some geographical areas where generally there are many afflicted cats.

All of these vaccines can have side effects in some cases. The most common side effect is irritation at the site of the vaccine or minor health problems such as flu-like symptoms or cystitis, but sometimes felines experience additional serious side effects that can be fatal. These include anaphylactic shock and fibrosarcoma, a type of cancer that occurs rarely (approximately 4 in 10,000 cases).

In the event that you decide to administer cat shots yourself, it is very critical to study the instructions and adhere to them closely. A badly prepared or administered vaccine can be dangerous and might actually cause the disease that it was designed to prevent.

The vaccine companies recommend annual booster injections of many vaccines. Even if you decide to have your cat vaccinated once against a certain disease, you might decide not to follow up with annual boosters. Often, vaccines will protect a cat for life. Even if not, a vaccine should give protection for more than one year. Boosters of vaccines for either cats or people increase the risk of side effects and may not be as necessary as the medical profession used to believe.

Before making decisions regarding vaccination, check your cat health insurance policy. You may find that certain vaccinations are required in order for the insurance policy to remain valid. If you find that the policy requires vaccines that you are not comfortable with, you have a difficult decision to make. It may be time to change your pet health insurance company.

In the end, whether to vaccinate your cat is your own decision. Your veterinarian will have advice and if you trust your veterinarian you will want to follow them, but keep in mind that cat vaccinations are a subject on which nobody can be 100% certain.

Diane Dunn is a catlover and cook and has created a cat treat and cat food recipe book available at

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