Response of feral cats to vaccination at the time of neutering.
Objective - To determine whether administration of inactivated virus or modified-live virus (MLV) vaccines to feral cats at the time of neutering induces protective serum antiviral antibody titers. Design - Prospective study. Animals - 61 feral cats included in a trap-neuter-return program in Florida. Procedures - Each cat received vaccines against feline panleukopenia virus (FPV), feline herpes virus (FHV), feline calicivirus (FCV), FeLV, and rabies virus (RV). Immediately on completion of surgery, vaccines that contained inactivated RV and FeLV antigens and either MLV or inactivated FPV, FHV, and FCV antigens were administered. Titers of antiviral antibodies (except those against FeLV) were assessed in serum samples obtained immediately prior to surgery and approximately 10 weeks later. Results - Prior to vaccination, some of the cats had protective serum antibody titers against FPV (33%), FHV (21%), FCV (64%), and RV (3%). Following vaccination, the overall proportion of cats with protective serum antiviral antibody titers increased (FPV [90%], FHV [56%], FCV [93%], and RV [98%]). With the exception of the FHV vaccine, there were no differences in the proportions of cats protected with inactivated virus versus MLV vaccines. Conclusions and Clinical Relevance - Results suggest that exposure to FPV, FHV, and FCV is common among feral cats and that a high proportion of cats are susceptible to RV infection. Feral cats appeared to have an excellent immune response following vaccination at the time of neutering. Incorporation of vaccination into trap-neuter-return programs is likely to protect the health of individual cats and possibly reduce the disease burden in the community.