Vaccination, Vaccines, and their Safety 

(Due to some recent reader comments, let me be clear, I am not anti-vaccine. I am just learning they are not harmless. I would hate to be painted as something as humorless as an anti-vaccer. Now read on.) 

I feel compelled to say a few words about vaccines and vaccinating your cats. Because… we have been having a lot trouble with vaccines. 

Its widely believed that vaccines are harmless and, in many cases they are. However, I have had ongoing experiences that indicate to me, they come with certain risks. They can be harmless, and they can also have side effects.  Let me just give you some of my history with vaccines and you can draw your own conclusions. 

Years ago, when I was breeding pure American Burmese, I gave my mother a 12 week old sable kitten. Perfectly healthy and happy. Fat, bouncy, energetic, all the way around, a great cat. Most importantly, it was a good healthy cat. After all, I was giving it to my mother. So, my mother took the kitten to her vet to get the kitten vaccinated. Within 24 hours following the administration the vaccine, the kitten stopped eating and within 72 hours was dead. Healthy one day, dead three days later.  The vet tried to peddle some story that the kitten had FIP. (This is there standby diagnosis when they have no explanation to offer.)  Though it was an odd diagnosis as there was no P(peritonitis). In the story FIP means Feline Infectious Peritonitis. There was no peritonitis. Moreover, cats with FIP don't go from healthy to dead in 72 hours  There was no P in the sad story, but, there was some V( Vaccine) in the story. 

I was so freaked out by the episode, I spoke to several American Burmese breeders and they told me something interesting. They did not let their kittens go home until they were 16 weeks old....... because not all of the kittens would survive vaccination. If they were going to die, they wanted it to happen cat their cattery and not in a kitten buyers home.  Both breeders who gave me this advice continued that practice until last year. They stopped because they died. I mean the breeders both died.  

This dramatic event made me research the Burmese breed, and, I learned about the inbreeding problems with the breed. That the breed had been determined to be the most inbred breed in the world. I suspected this inability to handle vaccines was but a symptom of a bigger problem. I felt that if a cat could not survive a vaccine, it must have pretty fragile health. And, this lead me to develop my Burmese health improvement campaign. ie importing Burmese cats from Thailand to shore up the health of the breed.  I blamed the vaccine deaths on frailty of the American Burmese.  

At about that same time, a breeder in Dallas dropped dead. He left 14 cats behind with no arrangements for their future. I found out about these orphaned cats and arranged this whole dramatic airlift of that cats from Dallas, to my farm. Getting 14 cats shipped from a dead guys house, remotely, was quite an affair. I knew I could find them homes and their future in a dead mans house was, shall we say, uncertain.  But, all cats had to be vaccinated with the rabies vaccine before they could be shipped. Unbeknownst to me,  four of the cats were pregnant.  I also didn’t know the rabies vaccine could cause tragic birth defects.  When the rescued cats  gave birth, horror show are the only words I have to describe the situation. All 14 kittens suffered from severe and profound neurological abnormalities and had to be put down. It still makes me shutter to think about that nightmare. 

These kittens were absolutely destroyed by maternal vaccination. Vaccines were not so harmless in this case. 

I imported cats from Thailand, developed a line of healthy Burmese cats, and all was well in my cat Kingdom. ..... Until about three years ago we began having a problem with our kittens following vaccination. They would be perfectly healthy 8 week old kittens. We would vaccinate them with the rhino-tracheitis-calici-panleukopenia vaccine, and within 24 hours, all the kittens would have colds. Some of the kittens would get over the cold in two weeks, others would take upwards of a year to clear the vaccine inspired cold. 

Now, we are not talking about inbred American Burmese kittens. We are talking about kittens engineered to be healthy. Products of my exhaustive research and importation of genetically diverse and healthy Thai Burmese cats. 100% healthy until they were vaccinated. 

I guess you could argue that the situation had improved. The kittens didn’t die. But, they did get colds. And in some cases colds that took a long time to clear up. And, I had to spend my time explaining to kitten buyers “Oh the kittens were fine but after they got vaccinated, they developed colds.” 

One vet told me, you probably have upper respiratory infection in your cattery. Well, the nimnuts didn't know anything about my cattery. He didn’t know that my  cattery is not a garage lined with cages. I have five purpose built houses, spread around 10 acres. With outdoor gardens, heating and cooling system. Though many catteries are overcrowded infection traps, mine is not. Moreover,  if I had upper respiratory infections amongst the moms and dads, I would know it. I have eyes. Let's see.  No upper respiratory infection amongst the parents. I vaccinate the kittens and 24 hours later they are sick. Im thinking blaming the cattery is not the right line of thinking. 

Let's see. The kittens are fine one day. 24 hours after vaccination, I have a big pile of kittens with colds. I may not be the brightest spark in the lot, but, I am smart enough to make the connection between the vaccine administration and sick kittens.  

Then I spoke to a breeder who also happens to be a vet. She said that she was having the same problem with both her American Burmese kittens and with the shelter kittens. (She volunteers at a shelter and treats and vaccinated random bred feral cats.) Two radically different cats, random bred street cats and pedigreed American Burmese, both developing colds after vaccination. 

 I called the manufacturers and was told there was no problem with their vaccines. I called veterinary universities, and was told there was no problem with vaccines. In both cases, these “experts” had a vested interest in there being "no problem with vaccines". So I suppose asking them to admit their was a problem with their product or with a product they use, was naive on my part.  I was seeing with my own eyes there was a problem with the vaccines. Other breeders were reporting the same phenomena. The "experts" say there was no problem, but, rest assured, I did not imagine the litter after litter, getting colds after vaccination. 

Then a vet, who had purchased a kitten from me previously, made a deposit on a second kitten. A year or more after she picked up her first cat, she picked up a second kitten. I told her I was having trouble with the vaccines. I think she believed me but had no experience with the problem I was describing. Well, in the end she did. She vaccinated her new kitten and the kitten developed a terrible upper respiratory infection. More over, her older cat actually picked up the infections from the vaccinated kitten.  The vaccinated kitten actually infected the older cat after being vaccinated!  I felt somewhat validated in my observation there was a problem with the vaccines I was using. . 

I don’t know what that problem is…… because I am not an expert in vaccines. But, as someone that deals with a lot of kittens, I am smart enough to detect a problem.  

As a result of sheer luck, I had two kitten buyers who had worked in the vaccine industry and I learned something interesting. Something that has been confirmed by all the research going on and being published regarding the development of a vaccine for the corona pandemic in people. Here is what I learned. A vaccine can either be ineffective, effective, or can actually give the cat or person the infections for which they are being vaccinated.  And, this was exactly what I was seeing. Perfectly healthy kittens, suddenly seized with an upper respiratory infections, 24 hours after being vaccinated.  Not all of them to the same degree. Some were sick for a week and some were sick for a year. I asked both my “experts” kitten buyers to make a comment for me on this subject. One declined emphatically. Apparently the vaccine topic is some big hot button issue and he did not want to face retribution for commenting. 

And this is a tough issue for me. I have a lot of cats and I need to vaccinate to prevent the spread of dread diseases amongst my many cats. On the other hand, I have real time experience with vaccines making cats sick. 

When in doubt, call an old breeder. I called Phyllis Wilson, who had been breeding Burmese for 50 years. Phyllis was great because she was freakishly smart and did not suffer fools. She just laid it out there. The first thing she asked was, "are you using the modified live virus vaccines"? I said yes. She responded. "That would be your mistake. Half the time the kittens “break” with the viruses in the vaccine.”  She told me, “get the killed virus vaccines. The modified live vaccines are a disaster.”  I took her advice and now I am using a killed vaccine. I'm please to report since I switched to the killed virus vaccines, I am not getting colds 24 hours after vaccination. 

I have to say, it was not easy to find the killed virus vaccines, but I found them. And the problem of instantly sick kittens has gone away.  

So, I am not an anti-vaccer by any stretch of the imagination. I just wanted to let my kitten buyers know that there are risks associated with vaccines.They should be administered with the greatest caution. I want you to know in advance, you can have problems following vaccinating your kitten. I choose to vaccinate my kittens and cats, other people, weighing the risks and benefits, might make a different decision. 

Apart from the situation I am describing to you, it is a medical fact a certain percentage of vaccinated people and pets will develop catastrophic responses to those vaccines. I had a poor mother of a boy who had been thus affected by a vaccine and was undeniably made handicapped by the vaccine. If a vet tells you vaccines are 100% safe, they need to read the literature available on vaccines. There are intrinsic risks to vaccines and a very small percentage of vaccinated animals and people will respond very badly. 

However, what I have been experiencing with the modified live virus vaccines was much much more than the accepted level of “bad reactions” associated with any given vaccine. Statistically they should make a few kittens sick, say out of 100. But, what we have been experiencing is 100% of kittens. The degree of severity did vary from kitten to kitten. But, the problem we have been having falls way outside the “acceptable” level of adverse reactions. 

My best advice is spread vaccines out. Do not administer more than one vaccine at a time. Anticipate the kitten getting sick. If you do one vaccine at a time, you can identify the problem vaccine. 

Once the kitten has had its first years worth of vaccines. I would stop with the vaccines. Keep your cat indoors. Do not let your cat have access to other cats. Don’t let your daughter bring home her cat from college. Don’t offer to babysit your friends cat(and all the illnesses that cat might carry). Get their childhood vaccines done and then reduce the risk your cat has to exposure to infectious disease so you can avoid skip further vaccines.

I must add, Vets love to lay the blame on the breeder. When a kitten gets sick from a vaccine, they say things like, “Well, you know breeders do not know what they are doing”, blah blah blah. And in fairness to Vets, some breeders are undiagnosed hoarders, keep too many cats, have poor hygiene, breed inbred cats and do release sick kittens. 

Well, that is not me. I do know what I am doing. I have three degrees and have done extensive medical research regarding people and cats. I say with complete confidence, my cats are well enough to handle a good vaccine. But, no cat is healthy enough to handle a bad vaccine. I was using a bad modified live virus vaccine and it was making my very well kittens very sick. 

Lastly, I will say this. My Bruce Lee two is 12. That is pretty old for an pure American Burmese. Three years ago I had him vaccinated for rabies. He was 9. Which makes him a geriatric cat. Well, he almost died. He had to be hospitalized, was on an intravenous drip for a week, and it took weeks for him to recover. I have a good vet, and, he said, no more rabies vaccines for him. The next one could kill him. Not so harmless.

Care should be exercised with vaccines and where possible, request the killed virus vaccines.