You should always get your cat vaccinated! This involves an initial course of vaccinations and then boosters every year. See the Vets Bills section for a rough idea of cost. Even indoor cats should be vaccinated, as no good cattery will allow an un-vaccinated cat to board as the risk of cat flu is very high when cats are kept together.
You should inform your vet if your female cat is pregnant, as some vaccines are not safe during pregnancy.
A kitten should be vaccinated at about 12 weeks (and then again 2 weeks later) and should not be allowed outside until it has completed the vaccinations.
Cats can also catch diseases via secondary sources such as fleas, mice and other pets.
Cats are usually vaccinated against 3 major fatal diseases: feline enteritis, cat flu and feline leukemia.
This disease is a significant threat to cats in the U.K. It is highly contagious and can spread rapidly, carried on shoes, clothing, food dishes and litter trays.
The severity of the disease varies from a mild fever to a severe syndrome in which the cat may be found dead. In un-vaccinated cats the death rate is approximately 1 in 10, with young kittens being the worst affected.
Symptoms include unusual tiredness, a high temperature, lack of appetite with vomiting and a profuse, watery and bloody diarrhoea.
Cats that do survive may take weeks to recover fully and often suffer from a variety of other infections due to the reduction in their immune system.
Vaccination against this disease is extremely successful and it is vital to protect your cat from this illness.
Cat flu is caused by 2 viruses called Feline Calicivirus and Feline Herpesvirus. It is less fatal but is highly infectious to other cats and can cause permanent damage to the cat's sinuses. The signs include unusual tiredness, runny eyes and nose, sneezing, high temperature, conjunctivitis, salivation and occasional coughing and even pneumonia.
Cats that do recover from this virus are often unable to completely eliminate these viruses from their body and may become "carriers" of the virus to other cats. Prevention of Cat Flu is best achieved by regular yearly vaccinations.
Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) suppresses the immune system and causes leukemia and cancers of the glands. It is one of the most common causes of death in young cats. It can be spread through the mother in the womb or through the saliva during licking and grooming.
The time between infection and appearance of symptoms is very long - up to several years in some cases.
The signs produced by this virus vary widely. The virus can, as its name suggests, cause Leukaemia, but more commonly produces tumours in various parts of the body. the virus can also suppress the cat's immune system, making them more susceptible to a variety of other infections.
This vaccination is usually optional and does cost extra.