So, Roxanne, the cat that's not ours but needs our help, is so far, disease free. Still waiting on bartonella test (cat scratch fever) and she should be retested for one of them in a month or so just to make sure she wasn't infected before the blood test or between yesterday and the vaccine. This discussion of which vaccines are necessary for an outdoor cat, which ones the vet recommends vs. what vet websites list; testing for which disease; which disease does/does not get a vaccine, does/does not have a test, etc. is so new! And confusing. I thought HCM was confusing. Our indoor cats received a series of vaccines as kittens and annually the rabies and tri-annually the distemper. But what to get, test, and be aware of for Roxanne is what is new. (And she's responding well to her antibiotic eye drops to cure the conjunctivitis.)
When you have an outdoor cat there's much more to worry about than if you kept it indoors. An indoor cat needs flea/tick monthly med (we use Revolution) to prevent fleas from causing infection/infestations/tape worms; and to prevent mosquitos and heartworm; distemper 3yrs, and rabies annually (there is a three year but our vet doesn't recommend it.) An outdoor cat needs all of that and the feline leukemia (FELV) vaccine which is NOT the same as panaleukemia (distemper.) There is the FIV (HIV vax) that our vet doesn't recommend because it causes a positive test result and may lead someone to put a cat down (if you no longer owned the cat or it got lost.) There's the feline viral rhinotracheitis (herpes virus vax) which our vet doesn't recommend because most cats get the virus and how it affects them may change over time; it's not deadly but can make them very ill (which we've experienced.) There's FCV-(calcivirus) a severe and possibly deadly disease, a vaccine which our vet doesn't recommend (and I'll have to ask why and if necessary for outdoor cats). It could be that many of these are given by vets to kittens and that many adult cats do not need the annual boosters.
You should test an outdoor cat for all of these illnesses. Blood tests can be had for FELV, FIV, and bartonella. A cbc/chem panel test will show signs of an illness, allowing the vet to combine symptoms with blood test results to determine what is the cause and treatment.
Concerns about vaccines are that many have been linked to injection site sarcomas. This is why injection protocol calls for certain vaccines to be injected in certain areas of the body always, and never in a different spot each time the cat receives an injection (front leg for distemper, for example-I think. Don't quote me.) This way, if a sarcoma develops, the vet knows which injection caused it and can report it to the manufacturer, vet journals, whatever else they do with the information. Always check with your vet to make sure they follow a protocol.
Feline vaccines are easily the most contentious subject in veterinary medicine. So we consulted with Catster vet Dr. Eric Barchas, DVM to find the simplest vaccination guide veterinarians can agree on. According to Dr. Barchas, all cats –…