A vaccine is a preparation introduced into the body to provide protection (immunity) against a disease. Vaccines are usually developed for diseases that can be debilitating or life-threatening and can be spread between individuals.

How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine is either an inactive microorganism which cause disease or just part of that microorganism which when injected  causes the cat to produce antibodies. If the cat subsequently comes into contact with the micro-organism, the antibodies are there, ready to fight the infection. This is an immune response. The bacteria or virus in the vaccine has either been killed or altered in some way so that the vaccine stimulates the immune response without causing disease. Vaccines are therefore described as killed, modified live, or sub-unit.

Killed vaccines are less likely to cause disease; modified live vaccines may rarely revert to a virulent form and induce disease. However, as killed vaccines do not generate such a strong immune response, modified live vaccines are used more routinely. Killed or sub-unit vaccines should be used in pregnant animals (if they need to be vaccinated), in accordance with manufacturers’ guidelines, or in animals were the immune system is not functioning properly (immunocompromised)¬† For example, in cats infected with feline leukaemia virus (FeLV) or feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV).

What diseases can I vaccinate my cat against?

Currently in the UK vaccines are available against the following diseases: