Tail Vaccination in Cats: Protection Against Cancer?

Vet examining cat thinkstock

Where your doctor gives you your vaccinations may not have changed much over the years. Nine times out of 10, you are going to feel the needle in either your arm or your derriere. What you may not have noticed is that the same is not true for your cat. Where cats routinely receive vaccinations has changed over the past 10 years. Why? Because of a type of cancer called sarcoma that, although rare, is associated with many injections, including vaccines. It’s one of the main reasons that the veterinary community has invested a lot of time and effort in researching the best place to vaccinate your cat.

Here’s some of the latest news on the issue.

Tail Tweets

Not too long ago, I received a flurry of tweets reporting that according to a recent study, the tail is now where I should be vaccinating my feline patients in order to prevent cancer. As a veterinary oncologist, I have, unfortunately, cared for a number of cats suffering from injection-site sarcomas and would prefer to never see one of those tumors again. Because vaccines are a common type of injection administered to cats, they may in some patients be one of several inciting factors for an injection-site sarcoma.

Current Practice

To investigate the news, I turned to the most recent cat vaccination guidelines. The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) periodically releases vaccination recommendations from its Feline Vaccination Advisory Panel (FVAP), a group of experts in feline infectious disease and vaccinology. The most recent guidelines were published in September 2013 — fairly recently — and the authors outlined specific locations for the administration of vaccines. Their report included photographs of recommended administration sites that were widely published within the veterinary community.


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