Tail Vaccinations in Cats – Why and How [Video]

Researchers with Maddie’s® Shelter Medicine Program and the University of Florida have discovered an alternative to a widely accepted vaccination protocol in cats that could literally move the needle for feline cancer treatment.

Cleon Hendrix and Dr. Julie Levy
Veterinary student Cleon Hendricks, with Dr. Julie Levy. Hendricks participated in the tail vaccination study through the Merial Veterinary Scholars program. (Photo by Sarah Carey)

When administering vaccinations, veterinarians typically follow the current recommendations of the American Association of Feline Practitioners, giving the injections below the elbow or the knee joint in the leg. That protocol is based on the understanding that the most effective treatment for cancer that occurs near vaccine injection sites is radical surgery – amputation of a limb.

New findings published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery by Julie Levy, D.V.M., Ph.D., the Maddie’s Professor of Shelter Medicine at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, and a team of experts show that administering vaccinations in the tip of the cat’s tail appears to be as effective as vaccines at traditional sites. The researchers say tail vaccination would make surgical treatment of any cancer occurring near the site much easier, less invasive and less disfiguring for the animal, which could encourage more owners to treat the disease in their pet when it occurs.

Dr. Levy’s research team included UF veterinary student Cleon Hendricks, a Merial Scholar, as well as serology experts Edward Dubovi, Ph.D., of Cornell University, and Cathleen Hanlon, V.M.D., Ph.D, of Kansas State University. These collaborators tested blood samples from the cats for antibodies before and after vaccination.

How to Give a Tail Vaccine [Video]

Watch the video below to see a demonstration of how to perform a tail vaccination for cats.

Read the Scientific Poster

Tail vaccination in cats research poster

The study was supported by grants from Maddie’s Fund, the Merial Veterinary Scholars Program and the Harold H. Morris Trust Fund for Research in Diseases of Small Animals.