Three Yearly Vaccination - The debate about three yearly cat vaccination

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What about cats?

Since 2011 there has been vigorous debate about the three year recommendation in cats which might be going into high risk environments such as catteries. The debate is based on two international groups;
a) The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) which endorses three year vaccination in cats
(Read their guidelines here)

b) The European Advisory Board on Cat Diseases (ABCD) which says herpes virus and calicivirus (feline flu) should be vaccinated annually in high risk environments such as catteries.

(Read their guidelines for herpes virus vaccination here and calicivirus vaccination here)

But there is no registered three year vaccine for cats...

1Off label dispensing
Vets are allowed to recommend using a product contrary to the manufacturers registered claims when the recommendation is based on evidence such as that provided by the WSAVA. This is called "off-label" dispensing.

The feline situation is made more complicated as unlike with dog vaccines, there are no cat vaccines that have a registered claim for three years. The recommendations of the WSAVA are therefore considered "off-label"1.

All these issues have resulted in confusion as to what is the "right" answer. It has also resulted in situations where our owners have had their cats refused boarding because they were only vaccinated every three years.

Accordingly, and with some reluctance, we have adopted a policy of annual vaccination for cats using catteries but maintain that for cats not using catteries, three yearly vaccination reflects an international consensus of experts, regardless if this advice is off label or not.