First, we will express that the information in the article is our opinion and we are not licensed veterinarians. Why should you listen to us over the Banfield Veterinarian at your local PetSmart? Although "We have laws in most states banning corporations from owning veterinary practices, . . . Corporations now own 15 percent to 20 percent of America’s 26,000 pet hospitals, and consolidators . . . are buying them fast" (Clenfield). What does it mean when your veterinarian becomes corporatized? It means profit is the motivating force behind every single decision being made - not your pet's health.
How many vaccines we give will depend on when we feel we need to administer the first one. Several factors come into play with this decision. The first factor is whether or not we have any cats in our house with symptoms of a cold: watery eye, sneezing. If so, we need to be very cautious. The second factor is whether or not the mother goes into heat while nursing her kittens. This changes the hormone level in her milk which can cause the babies to have upset stomachs and have a more difficult time digesting Mom's milk. The third factor is the age at which the kittens start eating solid food.
Kittens are in a precarious state when it comes to being covered from the common cold viruses. Mom's milk has antibodies in it to protect them from everything Mom has been exposed to - which is fantastic. Mom's milk, however, also has antibodies in it that attack the vaccines and reduce their effectiveness. The kittens are well protected as long as they are on Mom's milk, but as they begin eating, they have less protection. If Mom's milk suddenly becomes hormonally off-balance (which tends to happen when the kittens start eating as her body thinks it is time to make more kittens), then we need to make sure the kittens are getting the protection they need from vaccines.
When you get your kitten from us, it will come with its health records including the stickers that have the vaccine batch number on them. Please take this to your veterinarian. Give it to him or give him a copy of it for his records. If you come across a veterinarian who will not accept this and wants to treat your cat as an unvaccinated cat because we gave the vaccines, run from this vet fast. It is an indicator that they are putting profit above health. In the US, it is legal for citizens to administer their pet's vaccines other than the rabies vaccine.
It is imperative that your kitten get one FVRCP vaccine once it is older than 16 weeks. During the first 16 weeks of a kitten's life, it is unclear how much of any given vaccine remains effective and how much of it is destroyed by the antibodies provided by Mom's milk. Researchers believe that by 16 weeks, all of Mom's antibodies are gone from the kitten's system and the vaccine given at that time will remain active. When giving the 16-week FVRCP, we recommend a modified live, adjuvant-free vaccine.
Also, once the kitten is 16 weeks or older, you should get the rabies vaccine as required by law. You do not want to end up in a situation where the authorities seize your cat because he is not vaccinated against rabies. Don't give the FVRCP vaccine and the rabies vaccine on the same visit. Separate them by a couple of weeks to allow the kitten's body to deal with each vaccine individually. You must ask your veterinarian for Meriel PureVax rabies vaccine as it is adjuvant-free. YES, the type of vaccine your cat receives DOES MATTER. Please make sure your veterinarian is giving the safest vaccines possible. The vaccines need to be non-adjuvanted.
When your cat is one year old, your vet will tell you he is ready for his booster. Should you give it? That is up to you. The older the cat is beyond 16 weeks when he received his last kitten vaccine, the less likely he is to need a booster. If your cat is outside on the harness a lot trotting through town where all the feral cats live, you may want to give the booster. But you should decide, not your veterinarian, what is best for your cat. If in doubt, you can always run a titer test to check your cat's current antibody levels. This will give a concrete answer.
The reality is that once that vaccine takes effect - whether it be the 16-week vaccine or the one-year booster - your cat does not need to be revaccinated. Don't take our word for this. Read the words of a vet who titered her cats once they passed at 18-20 years old and discovered the vaccine they received at one year of age was still valid. Please take the time to read Vaccines for Cats: We Need to Stop Overvaccinating.
Finally, remember that if you bought your kitten from us at Quality Bengal Kittens, we are here for you through your kitten's lifespan. If you aren't quite sure what to do about vaccinating or anything else, send us a message. We'll give you our experience-based opinion (which comes from our 17 years of experience with Bengals and Jon's lifetime experience as a sheep/cattle farmer), and you can compare our opinion with others to come to your conclusion.
The majority of the information in this article is based on Dr. Lisa A Pierson's article Vaccines for Cats: We Need to Stop Overvaccinating. The most significant difference in our opinion from hers is that we do believe giving young kittens intranasal vaccines is easier on their systems.
Other articles referenced
Clenfield, Jason. "The High Cost, High Risk world of Modern Pet Care." Bloomberg. 9 January 2017. www.bloomberg.com. 24 September 20017.
Birkhoff, M. "Advantages of Intranasal Vaccination and Considerations on Device Selection." Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences. Nov-Dec. 2009. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. 24 September 2-17.