Our team believes that the first step in providing your pet with lifelong health and happiness is through preventive care. Our Suffolk County vets discuss why cat vaccines are important and why the FVRCP vaccine is an integral part of your cat or kitten vaccine schedule.
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 whether they live indoors or are outdoor cats. The rabies vaccine is the other core vaccine which is also typically required by law.
All cats are at risk of contracting infectious diseases such as those listed below, the viruses that cause these serious feline conditions can live for up to a year on surfaces. If your cat is not vaccinated and escapes the house they will be at risk of contracting various serious diseases that are entirely preventable.
Conditions That The FVRCP Vaccine Protects Against
The FVRCP vaccine is an extremely effective way to protect your kitty against three highly contagious and life-threatening feline diseases, Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (that's the FVR part of the vaccine name), Feline Calicivirus (represented by the C), 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 causing problems during pregnancy.
Symptoms of FVR include fever, sneezing, inflamed eyes and nose, and discharge from 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.
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
- Eye inflammation
- Clear or yellow discharge from the infected cat's nose or eyes.
- Painful ulcers on their tongue, palate, lips or nose
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Enlarged lymph nodes
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)
Feline Panleukopenia (FPL) is an extremely serious and potentially fatal virus in cats and kittens that can cause damage to bone marrow, lymph nodes and the cells lining your cat's intestines. Some of the most common symptoms of FPL include depression, loss of appetite, high fever, lethargy, vomiting, severe diarrhea, nasal discharge, and dehydration.
If a cat is infected with FPL it may also frequently develop secondary infections as their immune systems will be weakened. 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 treating the various symptoms that the cat may be experiencing.
When Your Cat Should Recieve The FVRCP Vaccination
In order to protect your cat in the best way possible against FHV, FCV and FPL your cat should receive their first FVRCP vaccination at around 6-8 weeks old then have a booster shot every 3-4 weeks until they are about 16-20 weeks old. After this time your cat will receive their vaccines according to an ongoing schedule set out by your vet.
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 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. Some of the symptoms of a more severe reaction your cat may experience with a serious reaction are:
- Swelling around the lips and eyes
- 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.