Dear Christopher Cat: My veterinarian told me tumors can develop at cats' vaccination sites, though it's rare. To decrease the risk, she recommended a 1-year rabies vaccine instead of our usual 3-year vaccine. I agreed, but I'm thinking of skipping future vaccinations. Should I?

Christopher responds:
No. Continue vaccinating your cats for rabies, as the risk of developing one of these cancerous tumors, called injection-site sarcomas or vaccine-associated sarcomas, is remote.

The prevalence is about 0.5-2 per 10,000 vaccinations. The risk of rabies is far greater if your cats are exposed, and they can transmit rabies to you. So all cats should be vaccinated to prevent rabies.

In addition, all cats should receive the feline distemper vaccine to prevent common respiratory infections and other more serious diseases.

Although sarcomas are associated with injections of all kinds, the incidence may be higher with vaccines that contain adjuvant, an ingredient that prolongs immunity. The 3-year rabies vaccine contains adjuvant, but the 1-year vaccine does not.

Adjuvant is also used in feline leukemia vaccines, which your cats don't need if they live indoors and aren't exposed to the virus. However, if they go outside, they should receive the vaccine, because the risk of contracting leukemia is much higher than the risk of developing a tumor.

While sarcomas are rare, they are aggressive. So if your cat develops a skin lump, have your veterinarian evaluate it right away.


Dear Daisy Dog: We're driving to New England this summer, and we're taking our dog, Bear, for the first time. What do we need to know?

Daisy responds:
This summer, 65 percent of pet people are taking their four-legged family members with them on vacation.

I love joining my people on vacation, where I make new human and dog friends. If Bear enjoys new experiences, he'll undoubtedly relish a vacation away from home.

Julia, a young reader who hopes to become a veterinarian, shared a terrific resource that will get you started: www.thetruckersreport.com/traveling-by-car-or-truck-with-pets/.

Also, you should have Bear microchipped so he's permanently identified in case he gets lost. If he's already chipped, make sure the microchip company has current contact information, including the cellphones you'll use on vacation.

If Bear doesn't walk well on a leash, join an obedience training class now to teach him how to walk quietly by your side. He'll also learn to come when you call, even when distracted by nearby dogs and people.

Check out www.tripswithpets.com for pet-friendly hotels, restaurants and beaches, plus the pet policies of airlines and car rental agencies.

Ask the Vet's Pets appears Friday in the print edition of the Reading Eagle. The animal authors of the column live with Lee Pickett, V.M.D., who practices companion animal medicine at Bernville Veterinary Clinic. Contact them at www.askthevetspets.com, 610-488-0166 or P.O. Box 302, Bernville, PA 19506-0302.