Vaccination involves the administration of a substance which stimulates the body to mount an immune response and develop immunity to the disease being vaccinated against. In cats, almost all vaccinations are given by injection and will be a killed or weakened form of the virus or bacteria being vaccinated against.
Vaccinations are vital in protecting individual cats against disease, and also in reducing the amount of virus in the environment (herd immunity). Vaccinations are generally very safe and have had a major impact in improving the quality of life of cats.
There is often much publicised about the supposed ‘dangers’ of vaccination and, while it is true that rarely, an animal may have a bad reaction, the vast majority do not and regular vaccination is very important in protecting against potentially fatal diseases. A lot of work has been done in the animal and human fields to increase safety and the WSAVA (World Small Animal Veterinary Association) publishes regular guidelines for vets to determine the best vaccination protocols. The document for owners and breeders can be found here – WSAVA 2015 Vaccination Guidelines for the Owners and Breeders of Dogs and Cats. Please note that not all vaccinations are available in the UK and the licensing of individual vaccinations may differ from the guidelines. You should discuss the best vaccination protocol for your cat with your veterinary surgeon.
The vaccinations available for cats in the UK are as follows, classified in their WSAVA groups:
Core vaccinations (i.e. every cat should be vaccinated against)
Non-core vaccinations (depends on likely exposure of your cat to disease – discuss with your vet)