Vaccination is a very important step in your cat’s life. If you do not get your cat immunized, she stays vulnerable to many illnesses that may pose a threat to her life. Just like with many aspects of health, the information on feline vaccinations can be conflicting leaving you to question what’s best for your pet. What shot your cat gets will ultimately be up to you but remember to consult a qualified vet before making any decisions. After you have decided to give your cat certain shots, be prepared to experience some side effects. The side effects are often nothing to worry about but it still helps to know what to expect. Some side effects may have some home remedies you can apply at home to make your feline friend more comfortable. No side effect outweighs the benefit vaccination gives cats. While some of them might seem worrying, no side effect should be the cause for you to second guess vaccinating your cat.
Vaccinations for Cats: The Importance
The value of vaccines in a cat’s life is undisputed. Vaccinations have proven to be an effective way to prevent diseases in cats and all pets in general. A vaccine is basically a weakened version of a disease-causing pathogen. When our bodies are infected with a pathogen, they respond by making antibodies to fight the infection. These antibodies remain in the body and protect it from future infections of the same disease. This is why you can only get chickenpox once in your lifetime. Instead of waiting for the body to actually suffer from an infection to make antibodies for it, vaccines are injected into the body. Since vaccines are weakened, the body is given a chance to make antibodies without having to suffer from the actual disease.
What Vaccinations Should Cats Receive?
By law, all cats must receive the rabies vaccine. While it is not mandatory in all states, it is highly advisable that all cats get a rabies shot. The disease is very contagious and can spread to both cats and people. There is currently no known cure for rabies infection so vaccination is very important. The American Association of Feline Practitioners also considers the FVCRP vaccine to be a core vaccine for cats. The FVCRP is a combination of three vaccines; Feline Distemper (Panleukopenia), Feline Herpesvirus (FHV-1), and Feline Calicivirus (FCV). Other than these two, other vaccines are optional but can be of great help to felines. Other vaccines for cats include Feline Leukemia Vaccine (FeLV), Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV), Bordetella, Chlamydophila felis, and Feline Infectious Peritonitis.
Why do Vaccines Cause Adverse Effects?
Yes, vaccines are great. In fact, they are literally life-saving. However, they come with some unwanted effects after administration. Remember we mentioned that a vaccine is a weakened version of a disease-causing pathogen. This means that even if it is not an actual infection, it is still going to cause a reaction similar to that of the real disease. Luckily, since it is not the real deal, the signs and symptoms tend to be milder. Another way vaccines can cause adverse effects is simply through the injection site. The body is not able to tell an injection from an accidental prick. When a cat’s body recognizes that the skin has been broken, it is still going to react like it would for a bruise or wound. One of the body’s defenses against broken skin is inflammation, a process that is followed by pain.
Can Cat Vaccines Cause Paralysis?
Vaccines do not directly cause paralysis. If your cat develops paralysis after vaccination, there is most likely a secondary cause for it. For example, if a cat was already at risk of developing paralysis and the inflammation from the vaccination triggered the paralysis. Otherwise, vaccination on its own should not cause paralysis in a cat. The chances of paralysis are even lower if vaccination is done by a qualified vet. Your veterinarian will most likely be aware of any pre-existing conditions and health problems in your cat and will take the necessary steps to avoid adverse reactions.
Why do Cat Vaccines Cause Limping in Cats?
There are two main reasons why your cat will develop a limp after vaccinations: the injection site and vaccination reaction limping syndrome.
Injection Site Limp
The legs are the preferred site for most feline vaccinations. The two most crucial vaccines are both given in the leg. The rabies vaccine is given in the right back leg and the FVCRP is given in the right front leg. Some vaccines can even be given in the paw. Since the body recognizes an injection site as an injury and elicits an inflammatory reaction, there is going to be pain around the site. The injection site is also likely to have swelling, redness, and maybe even become warm. Just like any other small prick on the skin, these signs and symptoms should resolve in as short as a day. Once the soreness subsides, your cat should be back to walking normally.
Vaccination Reaction Limping Syndrome: The FCV Vaccine
Remember a vaccine is just a disease-causing pathogen that is introduced to the body. After administration, your cat’s body is going to react to it like it would to the given disease. The reaction should be mild so this should not worry you. Severe reactions to the vaccine may occur in pets with a compromised immune system. If a disease causes a certain sign or symptom, it may be experienced when the vaccine is introduced. Vaccines for diseases that cause limping may elicit a similar reaction. The FVCRP vaccine in particular causes a limp or lameness after administration. This is because lameness is one of the signs of the feline calicivirus, one of the diseases against which the vaccine works. Unlike the injection site limp, a vaccination reaction limp usually affects different legs. It may affect different legs at the same time or affect one leg at a time. In both types of limps, the limp should resolve in about 1 to 3 days. If the limp persists, you should seek the help of your vet. You should especially ask for help if the limp is accompanied by other signs and symptoms.
Why are Cat and Kitten Vaccines Given in the Leg Area?
To understand why vaccines are given in the leg, we must understand why they are not given in alternate areas. Previously, cat vaccines were given on the neck. The neck was used because of its flexibility which would make it very easy for the vet to stretch the cat’s skin during vaccination. In recent years, the neck has fallen out of favor as a vaccination site because of the recognized risk of developing a Feline Injection Site Sarcoma (FISS). A FISS is a tumor that tends to develop at injection sites in cats. The cause of a FISS is unknown. Some experts speculate that cats already have tumors whose progression is triggered when vaccines are administered. The risk of getting a FISS is very low at about 0.0001% chance. On the rare occasion that your cat gets a FISS, it would be much more difficult to extract it out of the neck than in the leg. The other alternative to injections is nasal administration where the vaccine is inhaled by the cat. This method of administration is simply not as effective as an injection because there is no guarantee that the vaccine will make it into the body of the cat.
Common Vaccine Reactions in Cats
After vaccination, your cat will most likely not feel the same. Some of the reactions you can expect to see include:
- Fever. Increasing temperature is one of the body’s defense mechanisms against diseases. You should therefore expect your cat’s temperature to go up after vaccination.
- Vomiting. If your cat is vomiting after vaccination, you should closely monitor it. Vomiting can cause dehydration and weight loss if it persists.
- Lethargy. It is no surprise that the body will be low on energy as it tries to fight off a completely new disease. If your cat is reluctant to play about after vaccination, you should not be concerned, she is only trying to recover.
- Trouble walking. Your cat may have some trouble during movement due to swelling of the injection site or as a reaction to the vaccine.
- Loss of appetite. Be prepared for a low appetite after vaccination. Try to feed your cat foods she likes to increase her likelihood to eat
- Personality or behavior change. Your usually friendly feline may become more aggressive around this time. Be patient and give her time for the vaccination effects to wear off and she will be herself in no time.
Severe Reactions: When to Worry
While side effects are completely normal after vaccination, there may be some instances where your cat might need medical attention from a veterinarian. On the first day of vaccination, there should be no cause for concern when your cat experiences negative reactions. However, as the days progress, these signs and symptoms should be resolving mostly on their own. On rare occasions, your cat may need your help, especially with pain. Your veterinarian should be able to recommend what pain medication is best for your cat.
Using CBD Post Vaccination
If you have been using CBD for your cat, you must be aware of how wonderful it can be. CBD is great for improving your cat’s life especially during sickness and post-vaccination reactions are no exception. If your cat is experiencing side effects of vaccination, CBD can be of great help in helping to relieve some of the signs and symptoms. If you have used CBD before, there is no cause for concern after vaccination. However, if your cat is new to CBD, you should run it by your vet before starting her on the therapy. Some of the signs and symptoms CBD may help relieve after vaccination include:
Our Final Thoughts
In conclusion, it is completely normal for your cat to experience negative signs and symptoms after vaccination. Some of the signs and symptoms you can expect include limping, fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, and vomiting. If a pet is otherwise healthy, there is no need for concern. However, if the symptoms persist, seek the help of a vet. You as a pet owner can take some steps to reduce your cat’s level of discomfort. Some of the steps you can take include giving pain medication, giving CBD supplements, and providing your cat’s favorite snacks.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it normal for cats to experience soreness after shots?
Yes, it is very normal to see some soreness after feline vaccination. However, the soreness should resolve on its own after about 2 days.
How long does it take for cats to recover from vaccines?
There is no definite answer to how long recovery will take. The length of recovery differs according to age, size, and type or form of vaccine. However, all symptoms should have resolved after about a week.
Why is my cat limping all of a sudden?
The most likely cause for a limp in cats is an injury to the leg. If there is no obvious sign of injury to the leg, there may be a more serious condition causing the limp for example a spinal cord issue.
Should I be concerned if my cat is limping?
Yes, but you should not be alarmed. The level of concern depends on what is causing the limp. If it is an injury, treat it, if it is after vaccination, it is normal, if you can not find the cause, consult your vet as soon as possible.