One of the easiest things you can do to promote life-long health and well-being in your feline friend is to stay up-to-date on their routine vaccinations. In this post, our Madison vets discuss the FVRCP vaccine and how it can help protect your cat's health.
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 a number of 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.
Conditions That The FVRCP Vaccine Protects Against
The FVRCP vaccine is an extremely effective way to protect your kitty 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), also known as feline herpesvirus type 1 (FHV-1), is a highly prevalent viral infection that is responsible for a significant majority (up to 80-90%) of upper respiratory diseases in cats. This disease primarily affects the nose and windpipe of cats and can also pose risks during pregnancy.
Common symptoms of FVR include fever, sneezing, inflammation of the eyes and nose, and nasal and ocular discharge. In healthy adult cats, these symptoms are usually mild and tend to resolve within 5-10 days. However, in more severe cases, the symptoms of FVR can persist for up to 6 weeks or even 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 kitty's lifetime.
Feline Calicivirus (FCV)
This virus 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 a number of 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 a highly prevalent and serious virus in cats that can cause significant harm to their bone marrow, lymph nodes, and intestinal cells. Common symptoms of FPL include depression, loss of appetite, high fever, lethargy, vomiting, severe diarrhea, nasal discharge, and dehydration.
Since the virus weakens the immune system, cats infected with FPL are more susceptible to developing secondary infections. Sadly, kittens are particularly vulnerable to this disease, and it often proves fatal for them.
Currently, there are no medications available that can directly eliminate the FPL virus. Therefore, the treatment for cats with feline panleukopenia mainly focuses on managing symptoms such as dehydration and shock through intravenous fluid therapy and providing intensive nursing care.
When Your Cat Should Recieve The FVRCP Vaccination
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 in cats are uncommon, and when they do happen, they are usually mild. Most cats may experience a slight fever and feel a bit off for a day or two after receiving the FVRCP vaccine. It's not unusual to observe some swelling at the injection site.
In very rare cases, more severe reactions can occur. These reactions typically occur shortly after vaccination, although they can manifest up to 48 hours later. Signs of a severe reaction may include hives, swelling around the lips and eyes, itchiness, fever, diarrhea, vomiting, and breathing difficulties.
If your cat shows any of these severe symptoms after vaccination, it's important to contact your vet immediately or visit the nearest emergency animal hospital.
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.