All of us know how important it is to keep our cats’ vaccinations current. Not only is it crucial for animals’ health, it’s the law in most cities that all pets be inoculated against rabies. Other vaccines, such as those against feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV, the precursor to feline AIDS) and leukemia, extend the life and health of our cats. But not all vaccinations are created equal, as this story reported in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution illustrates.
As reported by Alison Young, a rare side effect of vaccinations is the development of cancerous tumors in cats, particularly between the shoulder blades, where in the past vaccinations were often given. Guidelines from the American Association of Feline Practitioners have recommended vaccinations be given in the leg, where tumors are less likely to develop and can be more easily treated if they do form. But enough doctors ignore these guidelines that injection site sarcomas still pose a serious problem for cats.
While stories like these are upsetting, it’s not an option to stop vaccinating our cats. The key is to play an active role in your pet’s medical care. Educate yourself as to which vaccines are critical and which can be considered optional, and always accompany your pet if possible when vaccinations are given. Don’t be afraid to ask your vet questions about the risk of vaccines and to monitor how shots are given. If your cat’s doctor is unwilling to share information, consider changing vets.
For more information on the AAFP’s guidelines, visit their web site for a brief summary of recommended vaccinations.