What is in vaccinations?

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Have you ever wondered just what is in your cat's jabs, and what exactly your cat is being vaccinated against? Aga Zoltowska advises.

Q) Vaccines are obviously a hot topic this year and it got me thinking about my cat’s jabs. I get my cat vaccinated as it is recommended by my vet, and I will always do. I just wondered what my cat is vaccinated against and do they work in the same way — do vaccines teach the feline immune system to fight the diseases?

The world of immunity and vaccinations is a fascinating one! The cat vaccinations are split into two categories: core and non-core vaccinations.

In the core vaccination category, we have flu (herpes and calici virus) and enteritis (panleukopenia virus) which causes severe disease of the intestines. In the non-core category, we have the feline leukaemia virus (also known as FeLV) and chlamydia.

Core vaccinations are essential for all cats and non-core vaccinations are recommended in specific cases (for example, leukaemia vaccination for outdoor cats).

The animal vaccinations use the same mechanisms as human vaccinations to help us build immunity. As you said, they teach the cat’s immune system to fight the infections. The branch of the immune system which is educated by vaccinations is called ‘adaptive’ immunity, where by exposure to a fragment of the virus, or a weakened virus, in a vaccination, helps the immune cells mature and learn to recognise and react to the virus that causes the disease.

Advice given by veterinary expert Aga Zoltowska.