Young Ragdoll cat - yes vaccinate of course - Photo by Tom Poes
The reason to inoculate an indoor cat is rather a fragile one but there are reasons. Bottom line though it is a question of risk. There is still a risk to an indoor cat that it can contract an illness transmitted from the outside. We don't know what the level of that risk is, however.
There is also a risk that a cat can be hurt by a vaccination (or killed) - see feline fibrosarcoma and cat vaccination recommendations. We don't know the level of the risk as the source of the information, the veterinarians, will play it down because they like to do inoculations as it is a source of income. It also brings the client to the surgery regularly, which allows a sales pitch to be made face to face, which is far more effective.
We cannot therefore make an informed decision as to whether we should inoculate an indoor cat. We usually, therefore, take our vet's advice and do it. I think it fair to say that in general vaccinations are overdone. For example there is little reason to vaccinate a 12 year old indoor cat who has been vaccinated all her life.
The risks to indoor cats from being infected with a disease come from:
- Zoonotic diseases - we can become infected and transmit our disease to our cat, albeit very rarely in my opinion. One such case was the recent swine flu epidemic: can my cat catch swine flu
- cats can escape
- cats can receive viruses through grills etc despite being indoors.
- mice etc. that are in the house without the knowledge of the cat caretaker can transmit disease.
I can't think of anymore but there are probably some.
Bottom line, without proper statistics to guide us on risk, it is about:
- how risk averse we are (on behalf of our cat but remember vaccinations are nor risk free)
- how much we conform to the usual and how much we are independent minded
- how much we listen to the veterinarian (if he doesn't declaw listen to him otherwise, think twice!)
- how old our cat is. An old indoor cat with a lifetime of inoculations doesn't need more in my opinion but that is just me.
The reason to inoculate an indoor cat? To reduce the risk of catching a disease. But is it a higher risk than being hurt by a vaccination?
I will leave that to you. What do you think?