Researchers at the university’s veterinary school found that vaccinations in the tip of the tail were just as effective as the traditional practice of giving shots in the lower leg, and that felines tolerate tail vaccinations at least as well as hind leg injections.
And since some cats develop cancer at the vaccine injection site, it is easier to surgically remove cancer from a tail than a leg, the university said. Often, the only way to remove cancer from a leg is through amputation, a disfiguring, painful and expensive procedure that many cat owners opt to avoid.
Tail vaccinations “are easy to perform and well tolerated by cats, which will hopefully mean that general practitioners will be willing to change their vaccination protocols and try this new location,” said Julius Liptak, a surgery specialist and a founding fellow in surgical oncology with the American College of Veterinary Surgeons. From a cancer treatment perspective, “if vaccinations on the end of the tail become a widely adopted practice, then amputating the tail is a much easier and less traumatic procedure, which will hopefully result in a much greater potential to cure this disease.”
Veterinarian Julie Levy, who led the study, said that one to 10 cats out of every 10,000 vaccinated against infectious diseases develop cancer at the injection site.
“It’s still important to vaccinate because death from these infections is much more common than the cancer, but unfortunately this complication is one that does affect thousands of cats each year,” she said.