At Downtown Animal Care Center our vets believe that prevention is the key to helping your cat live a long and healthy life. That's why our Denver vets recommend that all cats receive the FVRCP vaccine. Here's how the FVRCP protects your cat's health.
Core Vaccines to Protect Your Cat
The FVRCP vaccine is one of two core vaccines for cats. Core vaccines are shots that are strongly recommended for all cats regardless of whether they are indoor or outdoor cats. The other core vaccine for cats is the Rabies vaccine which is not only recommended but actually required by law in most states.
Even though you may believe your indoor cat is immune to contagious illnesses like those listed below, the viruses that cause these serious feline conditions can survive for up to a year on surfaces. Because of this, if your indoor cat spends even a brief amount of time outside, they run the risk of catching the virus and getting very sick.
Conditions That The FVRCP Vaccine Protects Against
The FVRCP vaccine protects against three deadly and highly contagious feline illnesses: Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (the FVR in the vaccine name), Feline Calicivirus, and Feline Panleukopenia (the P at the end of the vaccine name).
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, elderly cats, and cats with weakened immune systems, FHV-1 symptoms can persist and worsen, leading to depression, loss of appetite, rapid weight loss, and sores inside your cat's mouth. Feline viral rhinotracheitis-infected cats frequently develop bacterial infections.
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 kitty's lifetime.
Feline Calicivirus (FCV)
This virus is a major cause of upper respiratory infections and oral disease in cats.
Feline calicivirus symptoms include nasal congestion, sneezing, eye inflammation, and a clear or yellow discharge from the cat's nose or eyes (FCV). Some cats with FCV may also develop bothersome ulcers on their tongue, palate, lips, or nose. Lethargy, weight loss, fever, enlarged lymph nodes, squinting, and loss of appetite are common symptoms in cats with feline calicivirus.
It's important to note that there are a number of different strains of FCV, some produce fluid buildup in the lungs (pneumonia), and still others lead to symptoms such as fever, joint pain, and lameness.
Feline Panleukopenia (FPL)
Cats are susceptible to the common and harmful feline panleukopenia virus (FPL), which damages the cells in the intestinal lining, lymph nodes, and bone marrow. The symptoms of FPL include depression, loss of appetite, high fever, lethargy, vomiting, severe diarrhea, nasal discharge, and dehydration.
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 Your Cat Should Recieve The FVRCP Vaccination
To provide your cat with the best defense against FHV, FCV, and FPL, they should receive their first FVRCP vaccination around 6-8 weeks old, followed by booster shots every three to four weeks until they are approximately 16 to 20 weeks old. When your kitten is just over a year old, it will need another booster shot, and then every three years for the rest of its life.
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 experience side effects 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 incredibly rare situations, more extreme reactions might occur. The symptoms in these situations typically begin to manifest before the cat has even left the veterinarian's office, despite the fact that they can start up to 48 hours after the vaccination. A more severe reaction may show signs such as hives, swelling around the lips and eyes, itching, 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.