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Yavapai Humane Society wellness clinic offers new, safer feline vaccine

Missy is a 9-year-old tuxedo cat whose beauty and charm no picture can capture. She is very sweet and tender and in need of a quiet, loving home. She is the perfect lap cat, able to enjoy a good book with you. (Courtesy photo)

Missy is a 9-year-old tuxedo cat whose beauty and charm no picture can capture. She is very sweet and tender and in need of a quiet, loving home. She is the perfect lap cat, able to enjoy a good book with you. (Courtesy photo)

August is National Pet Immunization Month, and the Yavapai Humane Society Spay/Neuter & Wellness Clinic is celebrating with a big announcement. The Wellness Clinic is now exclusively using non-adjuvanted vaccines for cats.

Why are we so excited about non-adjuvanted vaccines? And what does this announcement mean to you and your cat(s)? Well, let's back up a moment and explain what adjuvants are.

Adjuvants are additives meant to stimulate an immune response to help fight disease. In cats, however, adjuvants may present health risks such as injection site reactions and chronic inflammation. These reactions may lead to injection site sarcomas, a type of cancer that is very invasive and often difficult to cure. This phenomenon is well-documented and called feline injection site sarcoma (FISS).

Although there is some difference of opinion among professionals regarding the risks associated with adjuvanted vaccines, a study published by the World Small Animal Veterinarian Association in 2010 strongly recommends "Non-adjuvanted vaccines should be administered to cats wherever possible" to reduce the risk of FISS.

Surprisingly, the same study found that some veterinarians are actually taught to vaccinate cats as low on the limb as possible with adjuvanted vaccines so that if a tumor develops the leg can be easily amputated.

I asked Dr. Jennifer Redmon, who manages the YHS Wellness Clinic, if there was a better way. She replied, "The real question is, if there are safer, less reactive vaccines available, why gamble? If we can minimize or reduce the risk of possibly exposing a pet to getting cancer or losing a limb, or causing a family to lose a pet, then it makes sense to choose the available alternative."

Another study focusing specifically on injection site tumors found that "results consistently showed that cats with vaccine-associated sarcomas were significantly less likely to have received non-adjuvanted vaccines than adjuvanted vaccines."

The YHS Wellness Clinic offers all the feline core vaccines. "Core" vaccines are those that should be given to every cat regardless of lifestyle (indoor, outdoor, both). These vaccines include:

1. Feline RCP (often called "distemper/upper respiratory"), which includes rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, and panleukopenia, to protect cats from these common illnesses that are highly contagious. Vaccines should start by 9 weeks of age.

2. Rabies, though not required by law in Arizona, it is an essential vaccine for all cats. Three times as many cats as dogs had confirmed rabies in 2012. Cats can be exposed to rabies via infected bats, skunks, foxes, coyotes, raccoons and other wildlife. Rabies is fatal in mammals, but vaccination not only protects the pet, it also protects the humans with whom they live.

3. Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) is contagious through contact with bodily fluids from an infected animal. Kittens and young adults appear most susceptible, so vaccination of all kittens is highly recommended, followed by a booster at 1 year. After 1 year of age, cats who are allowed outside or commune with indoor-outdoor cats should be vaccinated yearly.

The YHS Spay/Neuter & Wellness Clinic is located at 2989 Centerpointe East in Prescott. These safer non-adjuvanted feline vaccines are now available at the YHS Wellness Walk-In Vaccination Clinic every Friday from 8 to 11:30 a.m. and 1 to 4:30 p.m. No appointment is necessary. First come first served.

The costs for these vaccines are:

• Feline RCP (Distemper/upper respiratory): $20

• Feline rabies: $25

• Feline leukemia: $28

These prices include a free wellness exam on Fridays.

August is National Pet Immunization Month, which makes it the perfect time to vaccinate your pet(s).

If your pet needs to be spayed or neutered call 928-771-0547 for an appointment.

Ed Boks is the executive director of the Yavapai Humane Society. He can be reached at eboks@yavapaihumane.org or by calling 445-2666, ext. 21.

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