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Feline Vaccine Associated Sarcoma

January 14th, 2009, 07:18 PM
I recently found an article about Feline Vaccine Associated Sarcoma's and became terrified for my cats! I have done a lot of research on it over the past few months and have found that prevention is key. I am SO ANGRY at my vet for not telling me anything about this--so I switched vets completely. Neither of my cats have developed sarcomas (THANK GOD). However, I feel that my vet hould have told me about this--I shouldn't have had to learn about this all on my own and I don't want anyone else to either. Here is some important information that I have found for all cat owners:

1) Discuss with your vet which vaccines he/she recommends. Vaccine's should be selected for on an individual basis depending on a number of factors including:
-Risk of exposure
-the consequence of infection
-the risk an infected cat poses to human health (e.g., rabies)
-the protective ability of the vaccine
-the frequency or severity of reactions the vaccine produces
-the age and health status of your cat
-vaccine reactions your cat experienced in the past
-the prevalence of different diseases in your geographical area

2) Discuss with your vet how frequently your cat should be vaccinated
*recent info suggests that some vaccines protect cats for longer than 1yr
*AAFP/AFM guidelines recommend that booster doses of certain vacs be given only every 3 yrs, depending on risk of exposure.

3) Multiple Vaccines should NEVER be given in the same site, and Feline Leukemia Virus Vaccines should ONLY be administered to those cats TRULY at risk!!!

4) "Vaccine Associated Sarcomas appear to be the result of the chronic local inflammatory response induced by the presence of vaccine adjuvant." So ask your vet to consider switching to nonadjuvanted vaccines if possible.

5) Vaccination is a medical procedure and should be individualized to the individual patient!!

6) Rabies and FeLV vaccines remain the products most commonly implicated in developing VAS.

***Most of my information came from the American Veterinary Medical Association, The humane society of the United States, and the Vaccine Associated Feline Sarcoma Task Force, and others. You should consider visiting their websites if you are concerned for you cat. They helped me a lot.

January 14th, 2009, 07:27 PM
I also found a health record online you can print out. It gives more important vaccine information down the middle of the chart under "information." I'll paste what it says here:

"Traditionally, vaccinations have been given annually to adult cats. However, due to increased occurrences of cancer at the vaccination site ("vaccine-associated sarcoma"), the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) in 1997 recommended initial vaccination, a booster 1 year later, then a 3-year booster cycle for certain "core" vaccines: feline panleukopenia (FP), feline calicivirus (FCV) , feline viral rhinotracheitis (FVR), and rabies. Note that rabies vaccinations must still be given in accordance with local laws.
AAFP recommends that vaccines for feline leukemia (FeLV) and feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) be given only if circumstances warrant. Cats at low risk for FeLV are defined as indoor-only cats and those in closed, multi-cat households that have tested negative for FeLV. Cats in other situations are considered high risk.

In addition, several organizations, including AAFP, recommend that vaccinations not be given between the cat's shoulder blades."

***:cat:Here is the link:

January 14th, 2009, 08:20 PM
The only reason I know of the info you provided (thanks for sharing)is due to working at a few clinics...not sure if they ever mentioned it to clients or not. I think they should though since not everyone trasfers thier records to a new vet. So when you do go someplace new you can let the vet know where the vaccines were last given.

The vets I worked for always had a stamp of the shape of a cat or dog where they would mark down where a particular vaccine was given. It was marked so the next time a pet was due for vaccines they wouldn't give it in the same spot year after year, and if it caused a problem they like a lump they would know what vaccine was responsible. I know of some clinics that only give lukemia (sp) in the leg so if cancer were to develop the leg could then be amputated to save the cat and hopefully prevent spreading of the cancer. I don't get the lukemia vaccine for my cats as they don't go outside(some things are air born so it doesn't matter if they never go out) or come into contact with unknown cats. I also only vaccinate every other year now that they're over the age of three(just an age I decided on with my vet). I do wonder about every two years instead of every other and the rabies we use is the three year. We travel a lot with the cat's and just never know what other cats may have been in the hotel room previous, therefore every other year for us, and every three for rabies.

There is always a risk with any vaccine but one has to look at thier lifestyle to then decide with thier vet which vaccines are really needed. I hadn't heard of the not giving inbetween the shoulder blades so I will remember that.

January 14th, 2009, 11:00 PM
I think vaccinating every other year--if not longer--is probably best, regarding the rabies vaccine. Whether or not a vet will tell me that I think the risk of my cat getting it is smaller compared to the number of cats getting Vaccine-associated sarcomas. I don't know how long I should go without giving my cats the distemper though-they're only 2 years old. I'll do some more research on that!

I guess I should probably mention the fact that I didn't switch vets just because they never told me about VAS. I switched because for the past two years my INSIDE ONLY cats have gotten the (1) Rabies vac, (2) the leukemia vac, (3) FIP vac, (4) Giardia, (5) and the feline distemper combo vaccine! I trusted my vet to provide me with the best information, as a first time cat owner, and they failed me. How can anybody who has gone to medical school and learned about the risk of cats developing sarcomas give any inside-only cat that many unnecessary vaccines???? I even called my vet and asked them about the risk of my cat getting leukemia and asked them why my cat should get that vaccine and they STILL told me that my cats needed it. When I called the humane society-they disagreed!! So that's why I switched vets. I'd give their company name but I don't know if that's allowed...

I read somewhere that VAS was not very recently discovered...they've been noticing this since 1991!

January 14th, 2009, 11:08 PM
I know of some clinics that only give lukemia (sp) in the leg so if cancer were to develop the leg could then be amputated to save the cat and hopefully prevent spreading of the cancer.

Hearing that makes me even more angry at my previous vet for trying to tell me my cats needed that vaccine! :yell:

By the way, I think since you do travel and have your cats in hotels you are doing the best thing for them. You are right, you never know what other cats might have been in there or what other "diseases" your cats might pick up without their vaccines. :cat:

January 15th, 2009, 07:29 AM
A "lecture" by Dr. Lee on the subject of vaccines:

And info from the VAS Awareness website: