Even with Less Frequent Vaccinations, Health Exams are Needed every 6-12 Months

Question:

We understand that the New Mexico legislature was considering a measure that lengthened the time between rabies vaccinations for cats and dogs beyond the current annual requirement. Does my indoor cat still need an annual rabies shot?

Dr. Nichol:

That’s a good question. Why would a cat with no exposure to other pets need any vaccinations? On the other hand, you could go for maximum safety and immunize against everything possible. The truth is that more vaccinating is not necessarily better. Too much can cause problems like cancer and immune disorders.

 

Your indoor cat is at low risk for infectious feline-only diseases, but rabies is a bigger issue; it’s fatal to humans too. Rabid pets are dangerous. Vaccination laws protect all of us.

 

There has been a lot of support for three-year rabies vaccination. There is no doubt that it will pass the legislature in the near future. I recommend that you comply with the current law until then. An unvaccinated pet who bites a human gets quarantined. That’s no fun.

 

But even with three-year rabies vaccines, your cat still needs a thorough exam at least annually. In fact veterinary internists are now advising a nose to tail physical every 6 months. Cats and dogs age much faster than we do. All diseases, including cancer, advance more quickly in pets. We can catch those problems early only if we’re watching. All pets should live long excellent lives. My cat Raoul is almost old enough to vote. Now, that’s scary.