Giving cat vaccinations in the tip of the tail is a new idea. The aim is to save legs from being amputated if cancer forms at the site of the injection. When that happens the cat’s owner doesn’t want to consent to amputation of the leg because (a) the cost (b) it disfigures the cat and (c) it is painful.
At the moment the injection is given below the knee of the leg so if it causes cancer the cat can be saved by amputation the limb.
If the injection is given in the tip of the tail and it goes wrong, amputation of the tip will be more acceptable to the owner. What about the cat, I say 😉 I guess the cat would agree with that too.
What is the risk of a vaccination causing cancer? Well it is low at 1-10 per 10,000. So, on that statistic, at a maximum, it is 1 in 1,000 or .1%.
However, as there are 80 million cats in the US and about 8 million in the UK it amounts to a lot of cats: 80,000 at a max. in the US and 8,000 in the UK. There are, therefore, quite a large number of cats with the problem although the percentage is small.
Apparently a study has shown that an injection in the tail is effective. It appears to be a sensible idea. I don’t know how the cat would feel about this. My instinct is that a cat would complain a lot in the vet’s clinic if a vet was trying to inject into the tail.
A cat’s tail is one of those no-go areas. Well, it is not completely no-go but cats are less accepting of people fiddling around with their tails than other parts of the body. However, it appears that in tests cats accepted an injection in the tail as well as other sites.
The idea for tail injections came from veterinary oncologists (vets specialising in treating cancer). The history of cat vaccinations indicates that the injection site is gradually being distanced further and further from the centre of the cat in response to the risk of cancer.
One question I have is this. Is the risk of cancer greater for cats than people when being given a vaccination? Are vets putting cats at unnecessary risk because of the constituents of the cat vaccination? As I understand it, it is the aluminium adjuvant that makes the vaccination more effective that can cause cancer.
One thing the vets could do to lessen the chance of a cat getting cancer because of a vaccination injection is to do less vaccinations. In my opinion vets still tend to do too many vaccinations. Sometimes they are unnecessary. For example, boosters in older cats or cats living in areas where cat vaccinations are commonplace resulting in a disease free zone.
Doing cat vaccinations judiciously and at a minimum level would probably be of far greater benefit to cats than changing the site of the injection.