All vets should provide full information to cat caretakers about the pros and and cons of cat vaccinations so that they can consent to the procedure armed with all the information that they need to make a good decision that is in the interests of the cat. What percentage do?
Alternatively, the vet can go one step further and actually suggest, on occasion – when the circumstances are right – that it is not wise to vaccinate. That is turning away business. That will hurt some vets in the short term. In the long term vets who suggest this will thrive economically and beat the opposition as it will engender trust and promote the integrity of the veterinarian. I am sure that many vets have already decided to do this.
However, due to the long standing routine of cat vaccinations, many veterinarians have inadvertently programmed or indoctrinated people into believing that vaccinations should take place yearly without regard to many other factors that include the risks of vaccines and the variable need to vaccinate depending on the circumstances.
Examples of circumstances that mitigate the need to vaccinate are:
- in the location where the cat is living most cats are vaccinated and so an island of natural protection has been created which mitigates the need to automatically vaccinate.
- many vaccinations are unnecessary for an old cat that lives indoors full-time. Rabies is not one of them.
When I write of ‘cat vaccination’ please presume that the same principles apply to other animals, primarily dogs.
Vaccinations are about risk. It is as simple as that. In which case there is a need to balance risk, to make decisions on the best information available. The buck stops with the cat’s caretaker. I know that many, if not most, cat owners make a presumption that certain vaccinations must take place yearly. It is a habit as entrenched as having breakfast in the morning.
The balance of ‘risk’ that I am writing about is the slight potential for the vaccination to cause injury to the cat which is set against the risk of the infection that the vaccination is designed to prevent.
There has been a gradual enlightenment amongst veterinarians about the adverse reactions from vaccinations. One consequence has been the change in practice of delivering certain vaccinations in the leg of the cat. If cancer is caused by the vaccination the leg can be amputated rather than the cancer killing the cat. It sounds rather basic but the change in recommended procedure gives me a strong indication that there is a real risk, albeit slight, of cancer in the skin from certain vaccinations and an admission of that by the veterinarians.
This is a complex and developing subject – even veterinarians are learning about the dangers of vaccinations and how to avoid them. Accordingly, I won’t go into it in detail. That is the role of your veterinarian if he or she genuinely has the welfare of your cat at heart rather than the making of a profit.
Without wishing to be overly cynical, let’s remind ourselves that yearly vaccinations are a wonderful ‘product’ for a commercially minded vet. A veterinarian can do all kinds of add-ons at the time of the vaccination, one of which, incidentally, in America, is declawing. There are many others because the vet has you in the surgery where he or she can sell you another service. The concept of routine visits or purchases in any field of business is prized as a good business model.
It might be fair to say that in general many veterinarians are still vaccinating unnecessarily. If so your cat is being put under unnecessary risk of injury at a vet’s surgery, the precise place where the opposite should occur.
An example of the short-term adverse reactions to vaccinations are:
- allergic reaction
- anaphylactic shock
As for long-term injury these are examples:
- hair loss
- skin disease
I have an example, myself. My vet is excellent and he agreed that Charlie did not need a vaccination because the area where he lives is free of the disease in question due to widespread vaccinations. As for my late, old lady cat, I pretty well stopped having her vaccinated in the last four years of her life.
The key to making decisions about cat vaccinations is to treat them as a balancing act between catching the disease that the vaccination protects against and the health problems associated with the vaccination itself. Your vet has an obligation under his oath to explain that and go into detail so you can make an informed decision. Insist on it.
There is a petition about this on Change.com.
- Associated post: Cat Vaccination Recommendations.
- Link to Nottingham Vet School on Flickr – original photo.
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