Here's a short blog entry about vaccinations from a vet regularly featured in my Pet Sitters International magazine. The frequency of vaccinations is finally being discussed amongst conventional vets and companion animal guardians; holistic vets have long questioned this practice. However, just yesterday I was looking at a website for a popular dog and cat veterinary practice in Seattle and checked out their vaccine protocol recommendations. I was surprised that they list nearly every vaccine every year for cats, even strictly indoor cats! Dogs are much more active within their community, either at a dog park or with neighbor dogs they meet regularly on walks than most cats so I can understand a greater need to vaccinate canines.
My personal experience is with feline health and I believe that vaccinating senior cats or cats who have current chronic health issues can be dangerous to their overall wellness. I know that some feline boarding facilities request recent vaccinations before accepting new clients; one of my clients refused to vaccinate her 16 YO kitty and we worked on finding a different place for her kitty to stay. I've heard plenty of stories of both cats and dogs who developed tremors, twitching, vomiting, and lethargy after being vaccinated. Cancer at vaccine sites is well documented. Of course rabies could be a very serious concern for animals who spend a lot of time outdoors and obviously vaccinating feral cats at the time of their spay or neuter surgery is a good idea (the Feral Cat Spay/Neuter Project offers these services for free for community cats). FIV and FeLV are mainly spread via puncture wounds or sexual intercourse with unaltered cats at greatest risk. But outside of a shelter setting (which commonly harbors upper respiratory infections), consider your kitty's actual exposure to the illnesses vaccinations address within your own home. People have told me of instances where their cats were medicated in a non-emergency setting or vaccinated without the guardian's consent, which is completely unacceptable. As with all veterinary healthcare issues, you need to feel comfortable with the staff and doctors you patronize. Fortunately here in Seattle we have a multitude of highly skilled vets to choose from and a variety of specialists and alternative providors as well.