There are other vaccines available for cats, for feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and feline infectious peritonitis (FIP).
FIV (feline immunodeficiency virus)
FIV is also known as feline AIDS. This virus is usually passed by bite, but can be transmitted from the mother to her kittens. The infection is usually present for weeks to years before the cat will show signs of immune system problems. These cats may have dental infections, fever, eye infections or skin infections that cannot be cleared with appropriate treatment. Any body system can be affected.
There is a blood test for FIV. We have seen cats from multi-cat household and strays with a positive test results in our area. Infected cats can live a good quality life for several years, with good care.
There is a vaccine available against FIV, but protection against infection is not proven at this time. This vaccine will also cause a cat to test positive on future FIV blood tests. We do not recommend this vaccine at this time.
FIP (feline infectious peritonitis)
FIP is caused by a mutation of feline coronavirus (FCoV).
The ‘regular’ form of coronavirus is carried by 80-90% of cats in multi-cat households. The virus is shed in the feces of infected cats and may be picked up in shared litter pans, for example. With this infection, you may see a mild, self-limiting diarrhea.
In 5-10% of infected cats, the coronavirus mutates into the form that causes FIP and the disease develops in these cats. This disease is general seen in kittens and cats under 3 years of age, but can show up at any age.
There are two ways that the disease can show up. The ‘wet’ form generally comes up 4-6 weeks after a stressful event and fluid will leak into body cavities. The ‘dry’ form can take months to years to show up and does not have the same dramatic appearance. Diagnosis is usually made on examination findings and blood test results, although the only way to know for sure is with tissue samples.
Once this disease shows up, the prognosis is poor and the disease is considered fatal.
There is a vaccine available for FIP, but there is no conclusive evidence that it prevents disease. At this time, we do not recommend FIP vaccination.