August is National Immunization Awareness Month and we all know vaccinating your cat is one of the best ways to take care of your kitty by preventing life-threatening diseases. But what are vaccines, why do we vaccinate, and what are the risks associated with vaccination?
Vaccines help fight the disease-causing organisms. They contain antigens that trick the body's immune system into reacting mildly to the vaccine, which is a killed or modified virus. By acting like the disease and allowing to body to attack, vaccines permit the body to learn how to fight these horrible illnesses. They have now prepared the body and taught it how to fight off the disease, or severely reduce the severity.
Vaccines are quite important as they aid in the health of your cats. It is very important to discuss with your veterinarian a vaccination protocol that's right for your cat. We factor in age of the cat, condition, and husbandry to see if vaccines are appropriate for your cat. That said, there are core vaccines that are regarded as imperative to all cats. There are also laws associated with vaccination, requiring certain vaccines and proof thereof (eg: Rabies is legally required in almost every state for all pets.)
There are few risks connected to vaccination. They do mildly stimulate the cat's immune system and this stimulation can cause lethargy or soreness at the injection site (just like when you get vaccinated!)
That said, it is important to realize that vaccines have aided in saving incalculable lives, and play a crucial role in the fight against feline infectious disease.