Millions of Domestic Cats at Risk of Potentially Fatal Feline Diseases
Millions of Britain’s domestic cats are at risk of potentially life-threatening feline diseases because owners don’t feel annual vaccinations are necessary, experts warned today.
Whilst nearly half (48 per cent) of cat owners are ignoring veterinary advice and not vaccinating their pets annually, almost a third (28 per cent) aren’t vaccinating their cats at all, they continued.
Veterinary experts at Merial Animal Health, which conducted this new research into the habits of 2,000 cat owners in the UK, said owners need to be aware that vaccines protect against many potentially fatal diseases such as feline flu, leukaemia and chlamydia.
The survey also revealed that more than 60 per cent of cat owners know very little or nothing at all about the diseases that their cat is at risk from. This lack of education was most prominent among female owners aged between 18-35, with 30 per cent of female respondents reporting that they don’t believe vaccination to be necessary at all, compared to 25 per cent of males.
Dr Sally Edis-Bates BVSc MRCVS, Technical Manager (Bios & Therapeutics) for Merial Animal Health, commented on the news:
“The lack of awareness regarding the importance of vaccination is surprising, especially the relatively high number of UK cat owners who don’t believe that vaccination is important at any stage of their cat’s life. Many owners understand the need to vaccinate in the first few months, but it appears that the message regarding annual vaccination and its importance in helping to guard against potentially life threatening diseases is not getting through.”
Sally continues: “These results demonstrate that as an industry we need to look at how we can better inform cat owners about the need to vaccinate and provide more information on the diseases that cats can be protected against. Encouragingly, the results do show that there is a willingness to vaccinate if prompted to take action – 30 per cent of owners reported that they would, if prompted, vaccinate their cat based on vet recommendation.”
To help promote the importance of good cat health, Merial Animal Health has launched phase two of its Viral Cats campaign, which aims to improve education of UK cat owners so that they understand the risks associated with not vaccinating their cat. To help owners find out IF their cat is at risk of disease, a new online cat health checker quiz is available via the Viral Cats website www.viralcats.co.uk.
Owners will be asked a series of simple questions about their cat, such as age, whether it lives indoors or out, whether it lives with other cats and how often it visits the vet. Following completion of the quiz, owners will find out whether their cat is at risk and in need of a check-up. If their cat is deemed to be at risk participants will have the option to receive a free text entitling them to a 2-for-1 vaccination at participating practices, if their vet advises that a full primary course is necessary. By entering their postcode, the tool will show the cat owners three local practices where the 2-for-1 offer is redeemable.