This article provides a brief overview of cat and kitten vaccinations. It also explains why cat vaccinations help prevent eye disorders and reduce the risk of blindness.
Cat and Kitten Vaccinations
Vaccines contain an inactive form of the virus or bacteria that causes the disease and the vaccine stimulates the immune system to start producing antibodies so that if the immune system encounters that disease, the immune system can fight it. Cats require an annual booster as otherwise the immunity will fade over time.
Kittens are usually vaccinated between 8 to 10 weeks and again at 12 weeks. The vaccines help to prevent cat leukaemia (FeLV), panleukopenia (feline infectious enteritis; feline parvovirus) and cat flu (feline herpes virus/FHC; feline calici virus/FCV). Panleukopenia viruses cause vomiting and diarrhoea in cats and can cause death. Feline leukaemia virus (FeLV) causes damage to the immune system and often leads to cancer, with 50% of infected cats dying with six months. Although cat flu rarely causes death, it can leave a cat with breathing problems for the rest of its life. Although chlamydia/chlamydophila felis, bordetella and rabies are not core vaccines in the UK, owners who board their cats, or travel with their cats may need one or more of these to reduce the risk of infection from other cats.
About Cats Eyes
Cats have incredibly powerful eyes, which unfortunately are vulnerable to disease and injury. They are similar in structure and function to human eyes, with the exception of a third eyelid, or ‘haw’ that helps protect the eyeball and a special tissue (tapetum lucidum) beneath the retina that allows katter or cats to be extremely sensitive to light.
Eyes and Infections
Caused by bacteria such as chlamydia or viruses such as feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), a common eye condition in cats is conjunctivitis, often identified by runny eyes. It is. Cataracts (where the lens of the eye clouds) and glaucoma are also common in cats. Cats that are regularly vaccinated have considerably less chance of infection from cat flu and other preventable infections that can cause serious and permanent damage to the eyes. Cats are also prone to eye injury, often in the form of cuts or lacerations to the cornea (outer surface of the eye).
Healthy feline eyes are clear and bright, with pupils of equal size. The tissue that lines eyelids should be a healthy pink colour; there should be no squinting and little or no tearing in the corner of the eyes. Eye problems may appear as bumping into things or struggling finding the food bowl, as well as changes to the eye itself, such as the colour of the iris or cloudiness. When eye symptoms are first noticed, always seek advice from a vet because as a rule, the earlier that eye diseases and injuries are dealt with, the less the risk is of a cat becoming permanently blind.
Many eye disorders in cats are caused by infection. With some of these infections being preventable by vaccination, there is no doubt that vaccines help to keep cats eyes healthy.
Chris Jones is a cat behaviour specialist who has an interest in katter (cats) nutrition and health. Chris has five cats, one of which is 18.