The Truth about Vaccines and Parasite Control in Indoor Cats

As a veterinary professional, I hear all time from clients and family members this exact thing: “I don’t need to vaccinate them because they are an indoor cat”, or “they don’t need to be treated for parasites because they are an indoor cat”. While vaccinating and parasite-treating your pet is entirely up to you, I just want to make sure you’ve got the proper information so that you can make an informed decision.

First thing’s first: many “indoor” cats have access to the outdoor world. Whether you have a balcony or a step you like to put your cat on to soak up some sunshine, or a harness you like to have them on in your backyard, they are still at risk for diseases and especially parasites. And that’s not to mention if they sneak by your feet while leaving your apartment or home.

Live in an apartment building or condo? If ANY pet (dog or cat) in the entire building comes into contact with the outdoor world then your pet is also at risk. Many parasites can travel on carpets and through heating and ventilation in the building – making it easy for them to get into your home as well. This isn’t just a concern when it is pets coming into contact with the outdoors, but also people. Many people don’t realize how easy it is for us to bring parasites into our home via our clothing. All it takes is ONE flea or tick and an infestation can occur. Also, many diseases can be transmitted via our clothes, such as upper respiratory disease and feline leukemia virus. Another fun fact is that houseflies can carry intestinal parasites! I don’t know about your guys’ kitties, but mine LOVE trying to bite flies out of the air!

There have also been some studies done that show that cats who haven’t received any vaccinations are at higher risk of contracting diseases because their immunity has never been challenged with vaccinations. So, if you were to unknowingly come into contact with upper respiratory infection or feline leukemia and then come into contact with your cat then they would have absolutely no immunity to it because their body has never come into contact with it before. Whereas if they’ve been vaccinated and come into contact with the upper respiratory infection, their body can recognize that invader and fight it off before it causes any clinical signs.

The key to a long and healthy life in pets is prevention, prevention, prevention. Wouldn’t you rather have your cat vaccinated and parasite treated so you never have to wonder or worry? (If it helps, I have personally seen MANY indoor cats covered in fleas!) These are the reasons why I vaccinate and treat my indoor kitties for parasites! I hope I’ve got you thinking and considering this for your indoor feline friend as well!

Written by Kirsty Riemersma, Registered Veterinary Technician

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