DEAR DR. FOX: I have a 13-year-old domestic shorthair cat, Gabby. She is always an indoor cat.
The vet says that she needs a vaccine booster shot every year. Her booster shot is coming up. Does she still needs a booster shot at her age? I asked the vet, and he said that she still needs it.
The vet is also a little concerned about my cat having pancreatitis. She is gradually losing weight, going from 12.5 pounds three years ago to 10.7 pounds today. She is still very active and alert most of the time. She does sleep a lot, but she seems to be resting peacefully during those times.
I give Gabby fresh, cold water at least three times a day; I feed her Royal Canin Selected Protein Adult PR wet food and Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Selected Protein dry food multiple times a day; and I give her a capsule of Cosequin mixed in with her food to help with her joints. -- J.B., Naples, Florida
DEAR J.B.: I realize how much you care for your older cat and commend you on your attention to your feline companion's quality of life.
First, your cat should not need booster vaccinations -- except for the mandatory anti-rabies shot -- and the protocol is never to vaccinate any animal who is showing signs of illness, which she is since she is losing weight. The veterinarian should first focus on this.
I advise against giving cats municipal tap water. I use a ZeroWater filter for my cats.
Your cat could have a thyroid issue or problem digesting food. First, I think more food is needed. Give her a sardine in water every day and an extra meal in the early afternoon. Most cats, and especially older ones, do best on four to five small meals a day.
VACCINATION PROTOCCOLS GO INTERNATIONAL
Veterinarians in the United Kingdom are being urged to adopt the vaccinations of cats and dogs against “core” diseases (excluding rabies) advocated by the World Small Animal Veterinary Association to its 86 member countries. The protocol is similar to the one that I and other veterinarians in the United States and Canada have been advocating for the past 15 years, and more on the basis of sound science -- including advances in vaccinology, immunology and blood titer testing -- rather than personal opinion, to optimize the benefits and minimize the risks.
The core vaccinations against canine distemper virus, canine adenovirus and canine parvovirus Type 2 are all given to pups at 6, 12, 16 weeks or older, and either 26 or 52 weeks. They should not get another until 4 years, then 7 years, and finally 10 years of age, with the option of serum testing and then not revaccinating if antibody titers show good immunity.
The core vaccinations against feline parvovirus, feline herpesvirus Type 1 (rhinotracheitis) and feline calicivirus are given to kittens at 8, 12, 16 weeks or older, and either 26 or 52 weeks. Then for low-risk cats who live indoors, this combination of vaccines is recommended to be given at 4 years, 7 years, and finally 10 years of age, with the option of revaccinating against only feline herpesvirus Type 1 and feline calicivirus if the serum titer readings are high for feline parvovirus immunity, indicating continued effective immunity.
In sum, these core vaccinations need not be given annually. Other vaccinations (non-core) may be called for depending on the region, outbreaks of infections and associated exposure risks.
CALIFORNIA CAT TURNS UP IN ONTARIO
After four years, BooBoo the cat will soon be back with her original owner in Watsonville, California, after being found and brought to a shelter in Ontario, Canada. The staff at Guelph Humane Society found BooBoo's family through the cat's microchip.
(Send all mail to email@example.com or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.
Visit Dr. Fox's website at DrFoxVet.net.)