Vaccinations are surrounded by a lot of controversy, even the ones that are gives to cats. Unlike the human controversy, the cat vaccine controversy is grounded in some facts. For example, cats can develop a form of cancer called sarcoma at the vaccine site, which is caused by aluminum salts in some vaccines. This guide can help you keep your cat healthy while also minimizing their cancer risk.
Should You Skip Vaccinations?
The short answer is no. Vaccinations help save your kitty from many infectious and deadly disease. This doesn't mean that you should over-vaccinate, though. There are core diseases that every kitten should be vaccinated against. These include feline leukemia and distemper. These two shots are generally given to kittens in a short series, with periodic boosters thereafter. Rabies is also usually required by law, but the frequency differs by municipality.
What Vaccines Should Be Limited?
Any vaccine that contains aluminum salts should only be given as necessary. You can also generally skip shots for diseases your cat isn't likely to be exposed to. For example, adult cats that aren't exposed to cats outside of their home environment will likely not require a feline immunodeficiency virus vaccination, since they are never exposed. Rabies is another shot that you should be able to skip in theory, but it generally isn't possible due to legalities.
Are There Other Options?
In cases were law requires vaccination, titer testing is an alternative that is sometimes accepted under local laws in lieu of the vaccine. This is primarily done for rabies shots. It measures the antibodies still present in the blood. If the level is high enough, a vaccine is deemed unnecessary. If you must give your cat a vaccine containing aluminum salts, ask your vet to give it in the leg as opposed to the usual spot between the shoulder blades. If a tumor does develop, it is much easier for a vet to remove a tumor in a leg or amputate to save your cats life than it is to deal with a tumor in the neck region.
How Can You Further Limit Vaccinations?
There are several things you can do to lower your cat's vaccination risk. First and foremost, provide a lifestyle that is low risk for disease. Keeping your cat indoors so they aren't exposed to diseases is the main thing you can do to lower their vaccination needs. You should also ask your vet to use only vaccines without aluminum salts when available, or to use vaccines with longer coverage schedules rather than short one year coverage.
In What Ways Should You Monitor for Tumors?
In some cases, the risk of the vaccine is worth it to mitigate the risk of the disease – for example, if you have an outdoor cat that needs their rabies shot. In this case, keep a close eye on the vaccination site for the first few weeks following treatment. The site will likely develop a hard swelling for the first few days after the injection, but then it should go down and disappear rather quickly. If the spot remains, or if it fades and then reappears, take your cat into the vet immediately. It is more likely that the tumor can be removed, as opposed to amputation, if it is caught early.
For more information, contact Cherokee Hospital for Animals or a similar location.