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What You Need To Know Before Vaccinating Your Cat


Issues with pet vaccinations

Vaccines For Cats

I see it all the time on social media:  “I took my cat to the vet today because it was time for his annual vaccinations, and my cat was not happy about it!”  It always makes me cringe, and I feel terrible for the cat.  I actually feel my heart race, and a sense of anxiety creeps in.   The very subject of vaccination creates a pit in my stomach.  I know first hand the damage vaccines pose to cats who have already been vaccinated at least once in their lifetime.  I lost my precious Snowbear due to vaccinosis (damage from a vaccine) a few years ago, and let me tell you, the heartbreak is still there.  Over-vaccination is rampant in today’s society because profits are put before pets.  As a cat parent it’s absolutely critical you educate yourself about vaccinations.  I’ve been watching the documentary series The Truth About Pet Cancer this week, and an entire episode was dedicated to the truth about vaccines.  Before you cart your cat off to the vet in programmed compliance to the reminder postcard your vet sent you, here’s what you need to know about vaccines for cats.

The Role of Vaccines 

In The Truth About Pet Cancer series Dr. Allen Schoen, DVM, states that vaccines have three purposes:

  • Hyper-stimulate the immune system
  • Develop an immune response
  • Respond to a bacteria, virus or infection

The reality is, vaccines don’t make pets healthy, rather they protect against disease.  There is a misconception that if you vaccinate your pet it will be healthy.  This couldn’t be farther from the truth, and it’s one of biggest deceptions pet parents fall for.  

Which Vaccines Do Cats Need?

Cat health expert Dr. Lisa Pierson, DVM, states that there are 5 viral type diseases that cats are vaccinated for:

  • herpes (rhinotracheitis) – the ‘R’ in FVRCP
  • calici – the ‘C’ in FVRCP
  • panleukopenia (“feline distemper”) – the ‘P’ in FVRCP
  • feline leukemia – FeLV
  • rabies

Only the rabies is required by law.  The FVRCP vaccines addresses upper respiratory viruses like Herpes and Calici and panleukemia, a highly contagious intestinal virus that has a high mortality rate.  FeLV is only really recommended for cats under age 1 who go outdoors and/or lives with a FeLV positive cat. 

Should You Re-vaccinate?

Vaccines and catsThe vets and vaccine manufacturers would love for you to re-vaccinate your cat every year, but is it truly in your cat’s best interest?  There’s a huge amount of evidence that points to increased risks and dangers of repeated vaccinations as well as the fact that they aren’t necessary.  Dr. Pierson doesn’t recommend re-vaccinating a cat for FeLV after age 1 because natural immunity is so strong by that age.  Nor does she recommend repeating the FVRCP vaccine in cats after the year booster for several reasons:

1) A single, properly-timed, FVRCP vaccine confers life-long immunity to panleukopenia (the most serious disease among the 3 that the FVRCP targets) in the vast majority of cats. Those very few cats that may not be protected are considered to be ‘non-responders’ and giving them more vaccines is unlikely to help.

2) Herpes and calici vaccines lack the ability to induce complete protection. At best, they will only reduce the severity of some symptoms but will not prevent infection with these viruses and will not protect the recipient from all symptoms of disease.

3) Herpes and calici viral infections do not have a high mortality rate. Death from these viruses is extremely rare and, if it did occur, it would most likely happen in kittenhood.

4) Even though a non-adjuvanted FVRCP vaccine is much less likely to cause a sarcoma, sarcomas have been noted with these vaccines.

5) The FVRCP vaccine has been shown to cause kidney inflammation. Given how common chronic kidney disease is in the cat, this fact influences my vaccine decisions.

Dr. Pierson also strongly urges NEVER to use vaccines with adjuvants.

Adjuvants are substances that are added to vaccines to purposely cause inflammation at the vaccine site in order to alert the immune system to its presence. They are used with killed vaccines to stimulate a more robust immune response but can also cause a fatal, aggressive tumor (sarcoma) at the site of vaccine injection. 

To be fair, adjuvanted vaccines are not the only substances that can cause sarcomas. Even non-adjuvanted (modified life) vaccines, as well as other injectable drugs, can cause these tumors. This is why the acronym “VAS” (Vaccine Associated Sarcoma) is being dropped in favor of “ISS” (Injection Site Sarcoma).

That said, at this time, it appears that adjuvanted vaccines have a higher risk rate of sarcomas when compared with non-adjuvanted vaccines.

The Rabies Vaccine

Vaccines cause tumors in cats

Photo courtesy of

Since 1945 it’s been known that one rabies vaccine produces immunity for life.  This is true for both people and pets.  Rabies manufacturers used to suggest putting the vaccine in the scruff of the cat’s neck, and for years this was standard veterinary practice.  When tumors started to appear in the injection sites and the tumor was dissected they found remnants of the vaccine inside.  Therefore the recommended injection site changed to the leg or tail.  Why?  Not because the risk of developing a tumor was less, but it was so that the leg or tail could be amputated if a tumor developed there!  The question scientists should have been asking is, “Is it even safe to be giving this vaccine to begin with?”  Unfortunately that didn’t happen.  Instead the yearly rabies vaccination recommendation from manufacturers changed from every year to every three years.  

Problems With The Rabies Vaccine

Another problem with the rabies vaccine is dosage.  Inside the vaccine are heavy metals like mercury and aluminum, both known carcinogens.  By law the same dose is required for each animal without consideration that one pet may weigh 150 pounds and another may weigh 5 pounds.  Clearly the smaller animals are put at greater risk if they’re receiving the same amount of vaccine that protects a pet ten times their size.  Many vets like Dr. John Robb are speaking out against this practice in the name of safety and are advocating to change the law.  It should be based on science and safety, not profits.  

Immunologist and DVM Dr. Ronald Schulz has stated in mainstream veterinary journals that one rabies vaccine provides a lifetime of immunity.  If this is the case, why are rabies vaccines pushed on pet parents throughout the lifetime of our pets?  What’s also disappointing to know is that rabies vaccine manufacturers guarantee their products up to five years yet the label recommends the vaccine be given every year.  Veterinary associations have now compromised and recommend it every three years.  Some veterinarians ignore this and still give it annually.  The reality is, one vaccine provides a lifetime of immunity in most pets, so repeated vaccinations are not going to increase immunity, and they put the animal at greater risk for chronic disease, illness and even death.

To make matters worse the vaccines are designed to be more potent than necessary.  Vaccine manufacturers create the vaccine to be 10 times more potent than necessary for one reason only:  shelf life.  The vaccine loses its potency the longer it stays in the refrigerator.  Therefore, it’s a crap shoot how potent the vaccine will be that your pet gets. 

Can Vaccines Cause Cancer?

The short answer is yes.  Damage to the mitochondria in the cell is one cause.  Studies have shown that vaccines produce cardiolipin antibodies in the mitochondria of the cells which creates an auto-immune response.  The cells begin to attack themselves and replicate abnormally which lead to disease and cancer. 

The other cause can be linked to the ingredients in the vaccines.  Vaccine manufacturers use cancer-causing ingredients including like SV40 (a grade 2 carcinogen), aluminum (a grade 3 carcinogen), mercury (thimerosal) and retroviruses.  The feline leukemia virus is an example of a retrovirus found in vaccines that re-writes and alters the DNA of the cell.  Damage to the genetic make-up of the cell leads to cancer.  

Adverse Reactions 

It’s super common today for clinics to give a “combo” vaccine where there are multiple vaccines given all at once.  While this may be a great marketing tool, nowhere in nature do you find animals exposed to multiple diseases at the same time.  Did you know that adverse effects are much greater when you expose the immune system to multiple vaccines at once?  Your vet may not even tell you about adverse reactions or what to watch for, so here’s a list from The Canadian Veterinary Journal:

  • Allergic conditions other than anaphylaxis (redness, itching)
  • Anaphylaxis, circulatory shock
  • Dyspnea (shortness of breath, labored breathing)
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea 
  • Loss of consciousness, colapse
  • Pain
  • Lethargy
  • Fever
  • Malaise (depression, discomfort, unease)
  • Vasculitis (disorders that destroy blood vessels by inflammation)
  • Cough
  • Other respiratory tract disorders
  • Injection site reaction other than sarcoma
  • Injection site sarcoma (cancerous tumor)
  • Death
  • Suspected lack of efficacy (it’s not effective)
  • Neurological disorders
  • Autoimmune disorders (hyperthyroidism, leaky gut)

Adverse reactions are not required by law to be reported, so the data of such events are often not even collected.  Chances are very good that the numbers of cases of adverse reactions are much, much greater than the data out there shows.  

First Do No Harm 

Hippocrates’ famous quote, “First do no harm,” is the oath vets take when they graduate from vet school.  Unfortunately not all vets follow this.  Instead they put profits before the health and safety of their patients by following unsafe, outdated laws and recommendations by manufacturers.  Vaccine manufactures indemnify themselves by putting a disclaimer on the vaccine label that states its use in healthy pets only.  If your cat is not healthy a vaccine is contraindicated, and this warning is commonly ignored.  As a pet parent there are several things you can and should do to be your cat’s advocate.

  • Don’t vaccinate your kitten before 12 weeks of age.
  • Do one vaccination at a time with a minimum of 30 days in between vaccinations.
  • Ask for a titer test instead of re-vaccinating.   A titer measures circulating antibodies in the blood to determine if your cat still has immunity.
  • Ask for a medical exemption.  Your vet is allowed to provide a medical exemption for the rabies vaccine if it has a chronic illness or disease.  
  • Educate yourself about the symptoms and signs of adverse reactions to vaccines.
  • Use the homeopathic remedy Lyssin right before and after a rabies vaccine to counter possible side effects.
  • Use the homeopathic remedy Thuja after all other vaccines to counter possible side effects.
  • Ask questions and don’t be bullied by your vet into giving your cat unwanted or unneeded vaccinations.
  • Take your business elsewhere if your vet doesn’t respect your values and beliefs regarding your cat’s health.

Knowledge is power, and while this article is not a comprehensive study on vaccine risks for pets it will give you a starting point to do your own research and seek out what is best for your cat.  Over-vaccination is rampant, and it can have deadly consequences.  It’s time to start questioning a practice we’ve been brainwashed to accept as “normal” and instead critically assess the safety and efficacy of vaccines given to our cats.  

Share your thoughts and experiences with vaccines in the comments below, and please share this article on your favorite social channels to help more cats and cat parents with these important issues.

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