Pet Vaccinations: Vaccinations for Your Cat or Dog (cont.)

What are the core vaccines for cats?

All kittens should be vaccinated as early as six weeks of age against panleukopenia, the feline form of parvovirus, and also for herpesvirus, rabies, and calicivirus. Non-core vaccines are for protection from feline leukemia, feline immune deficiency virus, chlamydophilia, and Bordetella.

Why has the topic of pet vaccination become so hot?

Part of the intense focus on pet vaccination stems from the highly publicized debate that vaccines may cause autism in people, a discounted but widespread theory.

Also, new vaccines and research "show that some of the routinely administered vaccines for dogs and cats actually immunize for much longer than one year," Ford says. "Today, selected vaccines are recommended to be administered to adult pets every three years. Some veterinarians have expressed reluctance to implement triennial (every three year) vaccination," Ford says, "until there is more information available."

Would I be playing doctor to put my pet on an alternate schedule?

"Alternative vaccination schedules for kittens and puppies are not recommended," Ford says. "However, among adult dogs and cats, alternative re-vaccination schedules are feasible."

Are there any alternatives to just doing what vets say?

Yes. Do some research to arm yourself to ask good questions. You also can ask for blood work, called titer testing, a tool to help assess the status of your pet's immune system.