Core Vaccines to Protect Your Cat
The FVRCP vaccine is one of two core vaccines for cats. These are the shots that are strongly recommended for all cats, both indoor and outdoor. The other core vaccine for cats is the rabies vaccine which is not only recommended but actually required by law in most states.
Although you may believe that your indoor cat is safe from infectious diseases such as those listed below, the viruses that cause these serious feline conditions can live for up to a year on surfaces. That means that if your indoor cat sneaks out the door even for just a minute they are at risk of coming in contact with several viruses that can make them ill.
Your cat is also at a heightened risk if they spend any time in a boarding facility with other cats.
What the FVRCP Vaccine Protects Against
The FVRCP vaccine is an extremely effective way to protect your cat against 3 highly contagious and life-threatening feline diseases: feline viral rhinotracheitis (FVR), feline calicivirus (C), and feline panleukopenia (P).
Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (FHV-1)
Feline viral rhinotracheitis (FVR, feline herpesvirus type 1, or FHV-1) is believed to be responsible for up to 80-90% of all infectious upper respiratory diseases in our feline friends. This disease can affect your cat's nose and windpipe as well as cause problems during pregnancy.
Symptoms of FVR include fever, sneezing, inflamed eyes and nose, and discharge from the nose and eyes. In healthy adult cats, these symptoms may be mild and begin to clear up after about 5-10 days, however in more severe cases symptoms of FVR can last for 6 weeks or longer.
In kittens, senior cats, and immune-compromised cats, symptoms of FHV-1 may persist and worsen, leading to depression, loss of appetite, severe weight loss, and sores inside of your cat's mouth. Bacterial infections often occur in cats that are already ill with feline viral rhinotracheitis.
Although the illness can be managed, FVR cannot be cured; even after the symptoms of FVR have cleared up the virus remains dormant in your cat's body and can flare up repeatedly over your cat's lifetime.
Feline Calicivirus (FCV)
Parvovirus is a major cause of upper respiratory infections and oral disease in cats.
Symptoms of feline calicivirus (FCV) include nasal congestion, sneezing, eye inflammation, and clear or yellow discharge from the infected cat's nose or eyes. Some cats will also develop painful ulcers on their tongue, palate, lips, or nose due to FCV. Often cats infected with feline calicivirus suffer from loss of appetite, weight loss, fever, enlarged lymph nodes, squinting, and lethargy.
It's important to note that there are several different strains of FCV, some produce fluid buildup in the lungs (pneumonia), while others lead to symptoms such as fever, joint pain, and lameness.
Feline Panleukopenia (FPL)
Feline Panleukopenia (FPL) is an extremely common and serious virus in cats that causes damage to bone marrow, lymph nodes, and the cells lining your cat's intestines. Symptoms of FPL include depression, loss of appetite, high fever, lethargy, vomiting, severe diarrhea, nasal discharge, and dehydration.
Due to their weakened immune systems, cats infected with FPL frequently develop secondary infections as well, due to the weakened state of their immune systems. Although this disease can attack cats of any age it is often fatal in kittens.
There are currently no medications available to kill the virus that causes FPL so treating cats with feline panleukopenia involves symptoms such as dehydration and shock through intravenous fluid therapy and intensive nursing care.
When to Vaccinate Your Cat
To provide your cat with the best protection possible against the serious conditions explained above, they should receive their first FVRCP vaccination at around 6-8 weeks old and then receive 2 more booster shots at intervals of 3-4 weeks. After that, your kitten will need another booster when they are just over a year old, then every 3 years throughout their lifetime.
For more information about when your cat should receive vaccines visit our vaccination schedule.
Risk of Side Effects From the FVRCP Vaccine
Side effects from vaccines are unusual in cats, and when they do occur they tend to be very mild. Most cats that do react to the FVRCP vaccine will develop a slight fever and feel a little 'off' for a day or two. It is not unusual for there to be a small amount of swelling at the injection site.
In some very rare cases, more extreme reactions can occur. In these cases, symptoms tend to appear before the cat has even left the vet's office, although they can appear up to 48 hours following the vaccination. The symptoms of a more severe reaction may include hives, swelling around the lips and eyes, itchiness, fever, diarrhea, vomiting, and breathing difficulties.
If your cat is displaying any of the more severe symptoms of a reaction listed above, contact your vet immediately or visit the emergency animal hospital nearest you.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.