CANTON, Ga., Sept. 9, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Acres Mill Veterinary Clinic is raising awareness about the importance of pet vaccinations for protecting feline health. According to the veterinary clinic, many cat owners believe that indoor cats do not need regular vaccinations. Without up-to-date vaccinations, cats are at risk for deadly diseases, including rabies, feline leukemia virus (FeLV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). Veterinarians Dr. Michael Good, Dr. Michele Stewart and Dr. Dwight Alleyne are working to educate cat owners about feline vaccinations.
The Canton veterinarians are warning cat owners about the dangers of contagious feline illnesses, including feline leukemia virus (FeLV), feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and feline herpesvirus. They advise that even indoor cats are vaccinated due to the risk of exposure when cats come into contact with other cats through an outdoor screen, if they slip outside, or even during sick visits to a pet clinic.
"Even indoor-only cats need vaccinations to protect against contagious illnesses," said Dr. Stewart. "For example, feline herpesvirus is one common illness affecting unvaccinated cats. Most kittens are exposed to this virus at a young age and will remain carriers throughout their lives. While the virus may be dormant for years, periods of stress can cause the virus to emerge later in adulthood – causing serious health problems in unvaccinated cats."
The veterinarians say that both indoor and outdoor cats can be carriers for the feline herpesvirus. Since they are infected as young kittens, an indoor lifestyle does not protect against the virus. A stressful situation, such as moving to a new house, having a new cat join the family, or being boarded for an extended period, could cause the virus to re-emerge. Cats that are vaccinated will exhibit minimal symptoms. Without vaccination, cats can become seriously ill, often requiring emergency vet care.
"Lack of vaccination also puts cats at risk for feline leukemia virus, a highly contagious and potentially fatal virus," said Dr. Alleyne. "It is easily spread between cats through casual contact like grooming or sharing the same water or food bowl."
The vet also cautioned that cats with FeLV do not always appear sick. Initially, cats may show few signs, which means that the disease is often not diagnosed until advanced stages. If a cat is not vaccinated, veterinarians typically screen for FeLV as part of routine wellness care.
FeLV is a potentially fatal retrovirus that weakens a cat's immune system. Cats are then susceptible to other disease and secondary infections. Immunization is the only way to completely prevent this virus.
The animal hospital in Canton also encourages pet owners to keep their indoor cats up to date on rabies vaccinations. Rabies vaccinations are required by law for all pets.
Acres Mill Veterinary Clinic, 1-888-667-5235