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Nearly 50% of UK cat owners don’t vaccinate their cats annually

Nearly half of UK cat owners do not vaccinate their cats annually according to a survey into the vaccination habits of UK cat owners, conducted by Merial Animal Health.  

In a recent survey of 2000 UK cat owners, it was revealed that 48% of owners do not vaccinate their cats annually and 28% do not vaccinate at all, based on a belief that it isn’t necessary. And while some vaccines provide an extended duration of immunity (up to three years in certain cases), the vast majority of cats will require annual vaccination. 
The survey findings revealed that over 60% of cat owners know very little or nothing at all about the diseases that their cat is at risk from. This lack of education was most prominent among female owners aged between 18-35, with 30% of female respondents reporting that they don’t believe vaccination to be necessary at all, compared to 25% of males. In addition, 50% of female cat owners stated that they would like more information specific to their cat and its lifestyle, compared to 36% of males.  

Dr Sally Edis-Bates BVSc MRCVS, Technical Manager for Merial Animal Health, commented on the news:  “The lack of awareness regarding the importance of vaccination is surprising, especially the relatively high number of UK cat owners who don’t believe that vaccination is important at any stage of their cat’s life. Many owners understand the need to vaccinate in the first few months, but it appears that the message regarding annual vaccination and its importance in helping to guard against potentially life threatening diseases is not getting through.

“These survey results demonstrate that we as an industry need to look at how we can better inform cat owners about the need to vaccinate and provide more information on the diseases that cats can be protected against. Encouragingly, the results do show that there is a willingness to vaccinate if prompted to take action – 30% of owners reported that they would, if prompted, vaccinate their cat based on vet recommendation.”  

The survey also revealed that there is a general shift towards sourcing cat health information online, with 53% reporting that they look for information online or via social media. However, veterinary professionals were still cited as the most valued source, with 75% stating that their vet is their first point of contact for information regarding their cat’s health.  

To address the need from cat owners for more education on the importance of vaccination, Merial Animal Health will be launching Viral Cats 2017. This year’s campaign will focus on education to ensure cat owners who aren’t currently vaccinating are prompted to change their behaviour. 

To help communicate the importance of cat vaccination to clients, and to assist in encouraging owners to bring their cats back into practice for overdue vaccinations, Viral Cats will be producing a communications toolkit for practices – downloadable via the Merial Nexus portal. 

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