Our veterinarians at The Beacon Veterinary Associates believe that prevention is the key to helping your cat live a long and healthy life. As a result, our Beacon veterinarians advise that all cats receive the FVRCP vaccine. The FVRCP protects your cat's health in the following ways.
Core Vaccines for Cats
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 required by law in many states.
While you may believe that your indoor cat is immune to infectious diseases such as those listed below, the viruses that cause these serious feline conditions can live on surfaces for up to a year. That means that even if your indoor cat sneaks out the door for a minute, they are at risk of contracting the virus and becoming seriously ill.
What the FVRCP Vaccine Protects Against
The FVRCP vaccine protects your cat against three highly contagious and potentially fatal feline diseases: Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (the FVR part of the vaccine name), Feline Calicivirus (the C), and Feline Panleukopenia (the P at the end of the vaccine name).
Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (FHV-1)
Feline viral rhinotracheitis (also known as feline herpesvirus type 1 or FHV-1) is thought to account for up to 80% of all infectious upper respiratory diseases in cats. This disease can harm your cat's nose and windpipe, as well as cause complications during pregnancy.
FVR symptoms include fever, sneezing, itchy eyes and nose, and discharge from the eyes and nose. In healthy adult cats, these symptoms may be mild and resolve within 5-10 days; however, in more severe cases, symptoms may persist for 6 weeks or longer.
In kittens, senior cats, and immune-compromised cats, FHV-1 symptoms may persist and worsen, resulting in depression, loss of appetite, severe weight loss, and mouth sores. Bacterial infections are common in cats suffering from feline viral rhinotracheitis.
Even once symptoms of this disease have cleared the virus remains dormant in your cat's body and can flare up repeatedly over your cat's lifetime.
Feline Calicivirus (FCV)
This virus is a major cause of upper respiratory infections and oral disease in cats.
Nasal congestion, sneezing, eye inflammation, and clear or yellow discharge from the cat's eyes or nose are all symptoms of feline calicivirus. Some cats will get painful ulcers on their tongue, palate, lips, or nose. Cats infected with feline calicivirus frequently experience loss of appetite (resulting in weight loss), fever, enlarged lymph nodes, squinting, and lethargy.
There are several different strains of feline calicivirus, some produce fluid buildup in the lungs (pneumonia), and still, others lead to symptoms such as fever, joint pain, and lameness.
Feline Panleukopenia (FPL)
Feline Panleukopenia is a very common and serious virus that affects the bone marrow, lymph nodes, and the cells lining the intestines in cats. Depression, loss of appetite, high fever, lethargy, vomiting, severe diarrhea, nasal discharge, and dehydration are all symptoms of FPL.
Due to their weakened immune systems, cats infected with feline panleukopenia frequently develop secondary infections. Although this disease can affect cats of any age, it is frequently fatal in kittens.
Because there are no medications that can kill the virus that causes FPL, treating cats with feline panleukopenia entails treating dehydration and shock with intravenous fluid therapy and intensive nursing care.
When Your Cat Should Recieve Their FVRCP Vaccination
Your cat should get their first FVRCP vaccination when they are 6-8 weeks old, followed by a booster shot every three or four weeks until they are 16-20 weeks old. After that, your kitten will require another booster when they are just over a year old, and then every three years for the rest of their life.
For more information about when your cat should receive vaccines visit our vaccination schedule.
Risk of Side Effects from The FVRCP Vaccine
Vaccine side effects are uncommon in cats, and when they do occur, they are usually minor. Most cats who develop side effects develop a slight fever and feel a little 'off' for a day or two. It is not uncommon for a small amount of swelling to occur at the vaccine site.
More severe reactions to vaccines can occur in extremely rare cases. In these cases, symptoms usually appear before the cat leaves the vet's office, but they can appear up to 48 hours after the vaccination.
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.