No more distemper vaccine for my Kaya kitty

rswojo0October 23, 2010

Kaya just had her 3 year distemper booster. For two days she was under the weather. Slept all the time, lethargic, totally not the cat I know.

I did some reading here and found out there is also a risk of cancer from this vaccine which generally requires amputation of the affected limb. My Kaya is a totally indoors cat. If I had to amputate a leg because of this vaccine I would just be sick and totally angry if this vaccine caused problems of this sort to my beloved kitty. She does not get exposed to other cats, ever. In my situation there is too much risk and side effects to justify giving this vaccine to a cat with minimal if any risk to be exposed to this virus. She will never get this vaccine again. I felt so bad for her for two days.

Never again. Never again.

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Although many cats have temporary lethargy after a vaccine, I am sorry for Kaya, but somehow glad you learned vaccines carry many risks, and some are not justified-like for your indoor kitty, especially combined with another vaccine such as rabies-don't know if that was the case. I learned that lesson the hard way after losing my firt boy (12 year-old) very soon after vaccination. And I won't go to a clinic who will push vaccinations.

People need to be reminded about the risks involved and that not all vaccines are needed for every cat... Thank you for posting,
Big hug to Kaya,

    Bookmark   October 23, 2010 at 8:02AM
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I have stopped all vaccines on my 12 year old indoor cat and I have also cut back on alot of the shots for my dog. I agree with Anne-Marie.. I truly believe we are over vaccinating pets and children, that just MHO.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2010 at 10:09AM
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I just received a vaccination reminder in the post for my dog, it's been one year since her last vaccination, but after reading some articles that 3 yearly vaccination is sufficient I was actually a bit annoyed at the vet for sending it. I agree that an indoor cat is a very low risk for picking up most diseases and doesn't need regular vaccines and it seems like we've been over vaccinating our pets for years without realising because our vets keep telling us to get it done and don't tell us the risks involved :(

    Bookmark   October 23, 2010 at 11:01AM
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I'm in that dilemma right now with 2 new kittens. We had a big scare with our last old cat--she got really down after her yearly vaccine at about age 17 and developed a "tumor" which was thought to be VAC (vaccine-acquired-sarcoma) and sent to the vet school for biopsy. Thankfully it wasn't, but it brought to light for me the dangers of vaccinations, and I stopped taking her.

Now with my new Ragdolls---before we got them, they had this: at 8wks Ultranasal FVRC 2-way (Rhinotracheitis and Calici modified virus); at 12 wks Eclipse 3-way (Rhino. and Calici again and Panleukopenia). Now they're scheduled for another 3-way.

Can anyone tell me what they really need and what I can leave off? These kitties will never go outside nor will we be getting other cats, at least for years.


    Bookmark   October 23, 2010 at 11:08AM
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I think a lot of it depends on the make-up of your pet population. I always get the standard new kitten shots for my kittens. When they are tiny, and first weaned, they are at risk. I had a multiple cat household and the cats were mostly rescues and God knows what pathogens they had acquired in their previous lives and brought with them to my house. I'm thinking of a few who were feleuk positive. They never succumbed to it but could be carriers. Therefore not only were any cats introduced into the population at risk, but the pathogens they could carry to the house cats was also a factor. This is not so much an issue with owners who do not plan to ever introduce a new cat to the population. But, also consider that you may have to take a cat into the vets to board or stay for treatment and it would also be exposed to other animals. You can't always be sure your cats will never be exposed to another cat.

That said, I also stop vaccinations when they became mature cats, unless there were specific instances when they needed them (like the feleuk)

My inside/outside barn cat needed all the vaccinations including rabies.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2010 at 12:57PM
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@anne marie: I gave her a hug for you. The thing is, though she loves to snuggle on my shoulder she doesn't like hugs and/or kisses. I use them to dissuade her persistent snuggling habit. A hug and some kisses, she is gone.

If our pets were human, vaccines with these severe side effects would not be tolerated and that doesn't even consider the cancer risk.

To all thanks for the comments. Kaya is my first cat and since she found us I have been lurking and reading this forum. I have learned much from what I have read here.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2010 at 12:46PM
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I hope Kaya is feeling much better now.

The feline distemper vaccine is NOT associated with VAS, only the adjuvented FeLV and adjuvented Rabies vaccines are.

There are safer versions of the FeLV and Rabies vaccines that do not contain adjuvents, both made by Merial under the PureVax label. The FeLV vaccine is a transdermal vaccine. The non-adjuvented rabies is a regular injection that is given yearly (they don't have licensing to make it a 3 year vaccine and probably never will).

Most adult cats gain natural resistance to FeLV so there is absolutely no reason to vaccinate a cat for FeLV beyond age 3 unless it unhealthy in some way (FIV+ for example). I usually vaccinate kittens and if the cat is going outside I will vaccinate at 1 year of age but that's it. If it doesn't go outside there is very small chance of getting FeLV unless it lives with an FeLV+ cat. The only reason I vaccinate kittens is because often my clients say the cat will be indoor only but the situation can change and clients don't think to vaccinate for FeLV before letting the cat go out. Or they end up adopting a new cat and let it near their cat before having the new one tested for FeLV. That kind of thing.

For distemper I vaccinate kittens (2 vaccines 3 weeks apart), a year later, and then not any more frequently than every 3 years. For indoor only cat households, I may go 5 years before vaccinating again. However I do want clients to boost a distemper vaccine within 3 years if they plan to adopt a new cat, before bringing it into the household. The only reason I vaccinate strictly indoor cats every 5 years with distemper is that as they may be exposed at the vet office, and since all cats need at least annual exams and may eventually get sick you do want the cat to be protected against germs at the vet office. That's the only reason I do it.

My boss lost a very good client and a very good friend because my boss said the client's 12 year old indoor only cats didn't need distemper vaccines any more. When the cats were 18, the friend adopted a kitten. The kitten gave the older cats severe upper respiratory infection (probably herpes) and both the old cats DIED despite treatment. They would have been fine if they had been vaccinated.

If you consider not vaccinating a cat for rabies, you may want to read the thread where someone has to pay thousands of dollars to quarantine her cat for 6 months because it may have been exposed to rabies while not vaccinated. The other option was having the cat's head sent to a state lab for rabies testing. Keep all cats, even indoor cats, current on rabies vaccine. Use the PureVax rabies without the adjuvent. The risks of rabies are higher than the risks of problems with that vaccine, plus the consequences of rabies exposure are so great it is simply a bad idea to not vaccinate for rabies.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2010 at 2:15PM
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I keep thinking about that thread and wondered why the OP didn't trap the bat, and submit that for testing. It was right in bed with her. Not that I'd want to sacrifice a bat, but I'd rather sacrifice a bat than my pet cat. We have had two rabid bat incidents in our county in the last couple years......both were inside of homes. It's nothing to take lightly.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2010 at 3:28PM
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Yes it appears Kaya reacted to the distemper vaccine and I overreacted to that. After the vaccination I searched the "internets" and I thought I found some references to VAS occurring from feline distemper vaccine. After reading Maghane's post I went back and searched again and I can find no such references.

I plan on keeping up with rabies vaccinations (always did), the distemper after speaking with my vet about a five year interval and annual physicals. I didn't notice reactions before maybe because Kaya was younger, I was working (now retired), or maybe I was just "less in tune" with my cat. Thanks for taking the time to respond Meghane.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2010 at 6:43PM
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I no longer get vaccines for my strictly indoor cat. And I'm not worried she'll get out. She is scared of the outside and runs and hides when I open the front door. I do get my dog vaccinated, as she goes outdoors to potty and anything can happen.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2010 at 8:35PM
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spedigrees z4VT

I once saw a cat (not my own) die of distemper. Distemper is a horrible agonizing disease and nearly always fatal.

My own cats have been vaccinated every year of their lives against all the major feline diseases including distemper. They lived to be 23, 22, 21, and 10. (The one who died at age 10 succumbed to an injury.) My current cat is 18 years old and very healthy.

Sometimes reactions to vaccines occur. After all a vaccine is a mini dose of the disease that it is designed to protect against. However even a severe reaction is usually less dangerous to an animal than the disease.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2010 at 6:08AM
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If any of you have ever seen a cat die from Panoleukopenia (Distemper) you would not be so cavalier.

Get the distemper shots. The cats get lethargic for a day or two but it is better than the death from distemper.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2013 at 3:55PM
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spedigrees z4VT

What ScottJeffrey said. Years ago I witnessed an unvaccinated kitten (not my own) dying from distemper. The horrible images are etched in my brain forever. It is our responsibility to protect our dependent animals and children. Innoculation = Protection

    Bookmark   July 16, 2013 at 8:48PM
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When the report of cancer risk from cat vaccinations first came out (I'm going back decades), my vet agreed the shots were not worth the risk for my indoor cats. BUT I now have a cat who comes in and out, spending most of his time outdoors. I'm wondering if I should rethink the shots for my indoor cats.

As for human vaccines, I get the concerns. I tend to be critical of a lot of practices in modern medicine myself. But I'm a volunteer gravestone photographer, and those old headstones are a graphic record of what happened to children in the days before vaccines. The risk of illness and death was so great that some families didn't even name their babies until they were 3 years old--or when they died, whichever came first.

The experience has made me grateful for vaccines. Right now I'm hoping they'll come up with safe, effective ones for tick-borne illnesses in humans and pets.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2013 at 10:05AM
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spedigrees z4VT

I agree with you Alisande about the need for more vaccines against tick born disease.

The Lyme vaccine is very effective for dogs, and the dog vaccine also is effective on horses, but there is no vaccine that has been tested and approved for cats. Personally I'm glad to have gotten the human series before it was removed from the market. I live in a hotbed of tick born disease and it is a real worry.

One of my dogs was just diagnosed with ehrlichia and has to have a month long course of antibiotics. It's disturbing since all he is on tick preventative, and there is no vaccine for this. I know there are at least two other tick born diseases besides Lyme and ehrlichia for which there is also no vaccine. It's scary.

Personally I think the connection between cancer and vaccines is overblown. I've had generations of horses, dogs, and cats, over the past 50 years, all of whom were inoculated with all available vaccines from youth through old age, and the only animals to get cancer were in advanced old age and their cancer did not originate at the injection sites.

I could not agree with you more about the life saving effect of vaccines (and antibiotics as well). A trip through an old graveyard could teach a valuable lesson to those who would deny their pets or children this valuable protection.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2013 at 1:35PM
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At the risk of hijacking this thread (I apologize!), in the space of one hour the other day I read about two diseases very recently found to be carried by ticks.

Here's one.

And here's the other.

I've gotten sick from tick bites several times, and in fact will be on doxycycline most of the summer from three bites this month. I think I'm also carrying around babesia from two years ago, but it's hard to prove.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2013 at 5:22PM
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spedigrees z4VT

That is really frightening, Alisande. With one tick born disease so new that it hasn't a name yet, you have to wonder how many new diseases will be emerging in the near future. I'm sorry to hear that you need treatment, but I guess it would be worse to be infected and not know.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2013 at 9:23PM
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I was going to post a new thread but I was glad to see my original post showing up again.

My wife decided last fall we needed one or two new kittens. She was jealous because Kaya prefers my company to hers. So we got two kittens from the local shelter and one had distemper. I am glad Kaya got her vaccinations. I spent $500 to cure the male's distemper.

The idea for the kittens was they would play with each other and thus bother our very shy Kaya less. Kaya was an only cat for 7 years and she DID NOT like the new additions to the household. Both kittens were very friendly with each other and thought Kaya would welcome them with open arms. The male would charge up to Kaya (in a friendly manner) but she has a personal space of about four feet diameter. Kaya ended up hiding in the walk-in closet 24 hours per day. We tried for about six months to acclimate these cats to each other with no success. We ended taking the male back to the HS which I really regretted because he is/was a really beautiful and nice cat but he was driving Kaya nuts. He was re-adopted in two days and I was not surprised at all, he really was a nice cat and I wish we could have kept him.

When these new cats showed up Kaya doubled her weight in a few weeks from about 8 lbs. to about 16 lbs. I think maybe she thought by eating more she could deny the interlopers their food.

She used to enjoy playing with my homemade "feline flyer" but now I can't get her to play at all. She seems depressed. She just lays around and sleeps and gains weight. I am thinking by getting these kittens we might have shortened her natural life considerably. She is my first cat, I was a dog person but Kaya changed my attitude 100%, she is a sweetheart and very loving. I had only one dog that came close.

The kitten we kept is female and she is a mischievous, climbing SOB. My original love Kaya is still suffering and I am thinking of getting rid of the new cat and my wife right along with her. My marriage started really going downhill with these new cats and it has been getting worse ever since.

I am trying to get Kaya to play again with no luck whatsoever. I love my Kaya, she loves me unconditionally which I cannot say about my wife.

I am thinking seriously about a divorce from my wife and her seriously misbehaved cat. I am just sick of all the BS.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2013 at 2:34AM
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spedigrees z4VT

It sounds like you and your wife have serious problems and are using the cats in the family as some sort of pawns in your domestic dispute. Cats are not household items that you can just acquire or abandon as the mood strikes you, no older cat is going to welcome a pair of rambunctious kittens, and no kitten is 'seriously misbehaved,' it is a kitten and climbing on things and playing boisterously is what kittens do, esp since you have taken away its companion. I wish you luck and suggest that you consider the feelings and needs of your cats and your responsibility to them.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2013 at 6:25PM
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Years ago, we had a Red Persian, Simba, and we nearly lost him due to getting the rabies shot....I then decided, never again...

    Bookmark   July 24, 2013 at 11:14AM
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Reply to "spedigrees".

In the next few days I will respond with a long post. But until then all I have time to say now is that Kaya is the greatest cat in the world and the new "kitten" who is one year old now is the cat from hell. Kaya found us when we were clearing land for our house 100 yards off the road in the woods. When we pulled in on a Saturday to work a starving kitten came out of the woods looking for help and she got it.

If she had acted like the new "kitten" from hell I would have thrown her back like an undersized fish.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2013 at 4:10PM
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Further reply to "spedigree".

By the way, Kaya was a approximately a 12 week old kitten when we found her too.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2013 at 10:29PM
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