Vaccinations For Indoor Cats

To vaccinate or not to vaccinate, that is the question for today.

More and more cat owners elect to keep their cats indoors, which heartily advocates.

In fact, we practice what we preach, and our Martha is never allowed to be outdoors.

The key word here is “allowed.” Which doesn’t mean that she won’t sneak out at any opportunity. She seems to know when a door is open on the opposite side of the house from where she is and will dash to it. Of course, when she makes it outside and then becomes caught she gets that “I have messed up” look on her face and dashes just as quickly back inside.

And it’s those “just in case” episodes that keep me vaccinating her year after year.

Take my late cat, Sally.

Sally Randolph at Christmas
Sally Randolph at Christmas

Sally had less than zero interest in going outdoors, but she did enjoy time on our screened-in back porch. She could lounge around out there for hours, then awaken suddenly at the arrival of a chameleon, ready to pounce.

We knew that the occasional stray or neighborhood cat would come along to annoy Sally, but we never thought too much about it. If we saw one we would bring Sally inside, just to help her avoid the aggravation. The screen doors were locked, the screen wire was strong and we knew there was no way she could get out or another cat could get in.

The unthinkable happened when Sally developed a disease called Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP). Even though she never made direct physical contact with another cat, apparently saliva and nasal droplets went through the screen and infected her.

As there is no treatment for FIP and the vaccine had not yet been invented, Sally died at the young age of twelve years.

A stray cat Martha, or your exclusively-indoor cat, might encounter might be carrying FIP, Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV), Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV), Rhinotracheitis or some other equally-bad illness.

Vaccination is your only hope of preventing your kitty from getting these diseases, should she accidentally escape the safety of indoor life and encounter a disease-carrying stray outside.

Even if you elect not to vaccinate your kitty, she needs to have at least see her doctor for an annual physical examination. Semiannual examinations double our chances of catching problems early. Infectious disease is not the only danger your cat must fear. Ear infections, dental disease, benign and cancerous growths, thyroid disease in cats over seven years of age, these are all problems that affect indoor cats at a rate equal to outdoor cats.

The physical examination is still the most important thing that happens at every visit.

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