Which cat rabies vaccine?
May 3, 2009 3:49 PM   Subscribe

Cat rabies vaccine - 1 year or 3 year?

In the US. At the cat rabies clinic, I can get the 1 year (must be revaccinated yearly) or 3 year vaccine. The vet tech says that the 3 year vaccine is "less safe," but I had no idea what she meant last year so I decided to go with the one year and do internet research. Can't find any reputable sources.

Any one have data? Are you a vet? I need help, and my cat needs another vaccine. Thanks.
posted by Pocahontas to Pets & Animals (6 answers total)
I used to work in an animal hospital and my wife is a vet tech with 15 years experience. I've never heard about any sort of risk with the rabies vaccine (other than normal vaccine reaction issues) and our three cats are all on the three year vaccine. Your vet probably wants to make sure you are coming into his office every year.
posted by Rock Steady at 4:01 PM on May 3, 2009

Best answer: The three year vaccine is prepared with an adjuvant which can cause fibrous sarcoma, a kind of cancer. The adjuvant is added to the vaccine to boost its effectiveness but can cause a whole host of problems. We discovered this the hard way and lost a beloved cat to the disease years ago. It's definitely worth getting the one year vaccine which doesn't use the adjuvant. See this also here and here

Hunting through these links I see that it's an issue for Feline Leukemia vaccine as well as rabies - for rabies I believe the safe alternative is called "purevax".
posted by leslies at 4:04 PM on May 3, 2009

My vet (in a feline-only office) gives only the one year vaccine for the reasons cited by leslies. I'd had no idea, but my vet is terrific and I trust her, so there you go.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:13 PM on May 3, 2009

leslies is correct about the concern for sarcomas associated with the rabies vaccine. Additional information from the AVMA's Vaccine Associated Feline Sarcoma Task Force can be found here. It is important to note that this side effect is very rare, found in less than 1 in a thousand cases, though it is very difficult to determine an exact statistic on prevalence. This lack of clarity, as well as the requirement in some locales that animals be vaccinated yearly for rabies, are some of the factors that decided that the decision to vaccinate once every one or three years was left up to the vet and client to work out. Neither decision is wrong, it is just a personal preference.

I work in the field, and am not a vet.
posted by gagoumot at 5:03 PM on May 3, 2009

Go with the one year and check that the vet does the injection in the leg*, not between the shoulder blades.

*because if something does go wrong, as it has with a few friends' cats**, the first tumor usually develops at the injection site. Amputating a leg might save the cat's life while there's not much you can do if the tumor is sited between the shoulder blades.

**All vaccinated with the 3 year dose. Each developed a tumor at the injection site. Two were saved via limb amputation, the third was too far advanced. All three pet owners received settlements from the vaccine maker, which is an admission of guilt in my eyes.
posted by jamaro at 7:25 PM on May 3, 2009

I'd go with the 1 year vaccine, myself, because it reminds me to take my cats to the vet for a check up. Also, if you're in the US, your state may require that your cat is vaccinated against rabies every year.
posted by Maisie at 10:37 AM on May 4, 2009

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