Tail vaccination in cats effective, eases tumor removal

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An alternative to a widely accepted vaccination protocol in cats could literally move the needle for treatment of cancer in cats, according to researchers.

“One to 10 cats out of every 10,000 vaccinated against infectious diseases develop cancer at the vaccine injection site,” said Dr. Julie Levy, professor of shelter medicine at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine.

“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.”

The current recommendation of the American Association of Feline Practitioners is to administer vaccinations below the elbow or stifle.

In a study of 60 cats, Dr. Levy and her research team found that administering vaccinations in the distal tail appears to be as effective as administering vaccinations at traditional sites. The researchers say tail vaccination would make surgical treatment of any cancer near the injection site easier, less invasive, and less disfiguring. The research team also found that cats tolerate tail vaccination at least as well as they tolerate vaccination in a distal hind limb.

The Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery published the study results Oct. 9 online in advance of print.