Cat jabs can save their lives

Pet owners should be vigilant about having their kittens vaccinated for viruses spread by stray cats. file photograph

Pet owners should be vigilant about having their kittens vaccinated for viruses spread by stray cats. file photograph

A Traralgon vet has reminded pet owners to vaccinate their cats early to prevent them contracting viruses spread by stray cats.

Traralgon Vet Centre's Ashley Greeves said feline immunodeficiency virus was not a "rampant" problem, however, many stray cats were positive with the virus.

"It doesn't tend to be owned cats, it's the stray cats," he said.

"An indoor cat is much less likely to contract than a cat that is outdoors."

The virus referred to as FIV is similar to human AIDS, however, humans cannot become infected with the feline-specific disease.

"It drops the immune system in the animals, long term. They usually live a reasonably full life but are more susceptible to infection and other diseases," Dr Greeves said.

He said fighting cats spread the infection.

"It's something we vaccinate for and once vaccinated they are safe from it," Dr Greeves said.

One of the main four diseases the clinic vaccinates kittens for is the highly contagious and fatal panleukopenia virus.

The Victorian Division of the Australian Veterinary Association recently issued a warning about FIV due to multiple confirmed cases in stray cats across Melbourne's greater metropolitan area.

Dr Greeves said the issue was probably more relevant in the Latrobe Valley than elsewhere because people were not as stringent with animal vaccinations as they should be.

"But is easily preventable with a vaccination," he said.

The first vaccination for kittens is generally at eight weeks old and a second is a month later.

"Make sure they're vaccinated at an early age and regularly," Dr Greeves said.

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