Which Non-Core Vaccines Should Your Cat Get? A Guide to the Top Three

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Once you welcome a new feline friend into your home, you will undoubtedly encounter the wide world of cat vaccinations. While every cat should have their main, or "core," vaccines, there are also a few optional ("non-core") vaccines that your kitty may or may not need. Here are three of the most common non-core vaccine options, along with whether your cat should have them.

1. Feline leukaemia 

Feline leukaemia, also known as FeLV, is a virus that attacks and weakens a cat's immune system. As the name suggests, this lifelong virus only affects cats. 

Feline leukaemia can cause a range of serious health issues in your feline friend, ranging from anaemia to various types of cancer. It spreads through bodily fluids, can be passed from mother to kitten, and is not geographically limited.

This illness has no cure and is often fatal, with most cats living just a few years after diagnosis. As such, while the FeLV vaccination is optional, it is extremely important. 

2. Feline AIDS

FIV is another immunodeficiency virus, also known as Feline AIDS. FIV attacks the cat's immune system, leaving them vulnerable to a variety of infections. It is one of the most common infectious diseases in cats, and unfortunately, there is no treatment for it. Thankfully, it can be prevented by administering the FIV vaccine when your kitten is at least eight weeks old.

The main transmission route for FIV is being bitten by an infected cat, making outdoor cats more vulnerable to infection. If you have an outdoor cat, the feline immunodeficiency vaccine is a good way to keep your cat protected from the aftermath of any fights. You may also want to consider the vaccine if you feel your indoor cat is at risk of getting bitten—for example, if you take your cat on walks.

3. Feline infectious peritonitis

Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) is a disease that primarily affects domestic cats under the age of two years. This virus is linked to the feline coronavirus viral infection, the strains of which can mutate into a more dangerous virus and cause FIP. FIP is difficult to diagnose due to a lack of accurate laboratory tests, making it one of the least understood cat diseases. 

While this disease is uncommon, vaccines have been developed because the condition is almost always fatal. Cats are typically infected through oral contact with an infected cat's faeces, so the virus is difficult to prevent without a vaccine. That said, the vaccine is not always effective. If you think you'd like your cat to be protected against FIP, talk to your veterinarian about whether the vaccine is right for you. 

For more info about pet vaccinations, contact a local vet. 

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