Thousands of Scottish cats at risk of potentially fatal diseases

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Thousands of Scottish domestic cats are at risk of potentially life-threatening feline diseases because a third (33 per cent) of owners in the region don’t feel regular vaccinations are necessary, experts warned today.

Veterinary professionals are urging the region’s cat owners to rethink this decision as their cat’s health is being threatened by common, preventable feline diseases.

Merial Animal Health, who conducted this new research1 into the habits of cat owners in Scotland and the rest of the UK, said owners need to be aware that vaccines protect against many potentially fatal diseases such as feline leukaemia and panleukopenia. 33% of cat owners in Scotland surveyed also reported that they didn’t believe that vaccination to be necessary if they had a cat that lived most of it life indoors. A belief that would go against veterinary recommendation.

The survey also revealed that more than 60 per cent of cat owners nationwide know very little about the serious diseases that their cat is at risk from. Notably, 30 per cent of female owners aged between 18-35 don’t believe vaccination to be necessary at all.

Dr Sally Edis-Bates BVSc MRCVS, veterinary surgeon for Merial Animal Health, commented on the research:

“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 regular 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 regularly and provide more information on the diseases that cats can be protected against.”

To help promote the importance of good cat health, Merial Animal Health has re-launched its Viral Cats campaign, which aims to provide the information that cat owners need 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 veterinary practices, if their vet advises that a full primary course is necessary. T&Cs apply – see www.viralcats.co.uk for more information.