University of Florida's College of Veterinary
Medicine determined that vaccinating cats in the tail is a viable option.
a vaccine in a cat’s tail instead of in a limb is just as effective and makes
for less invasive treatment if cancer forms at the injection site, the
University of Florida reported today. The alternative vaccination protocol could give cat owners more
reason to treat the cancer because many choose not to when leg amputation or
disfiguring tumor removal is necessary.
The chance of soft tissue sarcoma developing at an injection site is slim —
only 1 to 10 cats out of every 10,000 vaccinated, said veterinarian Julie Levy,
the Maddie’s Professor of Shelter Medicine at UF’s College of Veterinary
"It’s still important to vaccinate because death from these infections is
much more common than the cancer, but unfortunately this complication is one
that does affect thousands of cats each year,” Levy said.
The alternative location was the focus of a report published online in October
by the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery.
Current recommendations of the American Association of Feline Practitioners are
to administer a vaccination below a leg’s elbow, or knee joint. The researchers
found no significant difference in a cat’s tolerance of a tail vaccination and
one given in a hind leg.
Amputating a tail is much easier and less traumatic than invasive surgery on a
limb, Levy said.
"Many cat owners elect not to pursue the most effective treatment —
radical surgery of the tumor — because excision of tumors in the limbs and
torso is often disfiguring, painful and expensive,” Levy said.
Julius Liptak, a surgery specialist and a founding fellow in surgical oncology
with the AmericanCollege of Veterinary
Surgeons, called the study "very important for a number of reasons.”
"Firstly, it is important that vaccinations in the tail are effective in
providing the necessary immunity against infectious and communicable diseases,”
Liptak said. "Secondly, vaccinations in the tail are easy to perform and
well tolerated by cats, which will hopefully mean that general practitioners
will be willing to change their vaccination protocols and try this new
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