Our cat Bubba passed away 12 months ago today. While he was not a young cat he did die before his time. He was a victim of a very little known cancer that was caused as a result of vaccination. Bubba died because of Vaccine-Associated Sarcoma (VAS).
Vaccine-Associated Sarcoma (VAS) is a highly aggressive type of cancer that has a causal link with the administration of a group of vaccines including feline leukaemia virus (FeLV). It was my decision to give this vaccine to Bubba (and his sister Kate). It was not part of the normal schedule of yearly vaccines. I was insistent as my family’s cat, Romanov, from when I was growing up died from FeLV and I didn’t want that for my cats. I didn’t know however about VAS or the risks. However if I did as they are so slim I don’t know what I would have done (The incidence of VAS is between 1 in 1000 to 1 in 10000 vaccinated cats).
He fought his cancer for seven months. He had 2 operations and months of chemotherapy. Every week we were in the vets. A simple week was just blood tests but often it was more complicated. He was such a brave fighter and gave love (and purrs) to all that came in contact with him. All the staff at the vets knew him and he occupied a special place in the hearts of many. However in the last few weeks he just stopped eating( and if you knew him this was very strange … he loved his food and often anyone else’s that came his way). We tried many different things with the vet but with little to no success. He remained to the end our big purring loving cat.
I miss him very much. At times I just I can’t help but ask why and feel sad for my little black and white scaredy cat whose first response to most things was “purr” and wanted nothing more in life than a full bowl of biscuits, a warm and comfortable spot to sleep (preferably with someone patting him) and a occasional lick of Vegemite. Then I remember how grateful I am that we had Bubba in our lives and that everyday that we had with him was a gift.
Has this experience changed my views on vaccines? Well … I would be a liar if I said that it didn’t. Also to make matters more complicated at the same time we were dealing with Bubba’s diagnosis and treatment, our son was being in process of being diagnosed and then the commencement of treatment for Autism. Through this I had lost my blind faith of vaccines. I don’t believe that vaccines are 100% safe. I believe that vaccines must be weighed of their benefits against the risks … and maybe some of us (animals and people) have some genetical predisposition that makes us vulnerable to negative side-effects. i Don’t know…
My thoughts … well if you have a cat and are considering your yearly shots … speak to your vet. Get them to provide information to you on the vaccines and the risks. If you are considering FeLV or rabies vaccination, consider what specific risks your cat has to contracting these diseases and talk to your vet about the risk versus reward depending on your own personal circumstances (and legal obligations). My cats didn’t need the FeLV vaccination when you looked at their lifestyle and circumstances. They had it because I felt it was better to be ‘safe’ and I was scared after the experience with Romanov . This was a wrong decision and Bubba paid for it.
For more information
- Vaccine-Associated Feline Sarcoma Task Force (VAFSTF) – The VAFSTF is a joint effort of the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP), American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), and Veterinary Cancer Society (VCS), and includes representatives from each of the groups, plus veterinary researchers and clinicians, and representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA/APHIS), and the Animal Health Institute (AHI).
- Vaccine-Associated Sarcomas in the Cat – World Small Animal Veterinary Association World Congress 2001
- Facebook – VAS Support Group
- Cat Vaccines Can Lead To Cancer
- Education before Vaccination