Our vets at Broadway Animal Hospital passionately believe that prevention is essential to helping your cat live a long, healthy life. That's why our the Pacific Northwest vets recommend the FVRCP vaccine for cats. Here's how the shot protects your cat's health.
Core Vaccines for Cats
The FVRCP vaccine administered by our vets in the Pacific Northwest is one of two core vaccines for cats. We strongly recommend core vaccines for all cats, regardless of whether they spend most of their time indoors or outdoors. The other core vaccine your feline companion will need is the Rabies vaccine, which is also required by law in many states.
While you may believe that since your cat remains indoors, it is safe from infectious diseases we will list here, the viruses that lead to these serious feline conditions can survive for up to a year on surfaces. This means that if your indoor cat escapes even for a short time, they will be at risk for contracting the virus and falling severely ill.
What does the FVRCP vaccine protect against?
When your kitty has been vaccinated against FVRCP, they will be protected against 3 highly contagious and life-threatening feline diseases: Feline Viral RhinoTracheitis, (the FVR component of the vaccine name), Feline Calicivirus (represented by the C) and Feline Panleukopenia (the P at the end of the name of this vaccine).
Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (FHV-1)
Also referred to as feline herpesvirus type 1 or FHV-1, feline viral rhinotracheitis is thought to be responsible for up to 80 to 90% of all infectious upper respiratory diseases in cats. This disease can infect your cat's windpipe and nose, in addition to causing issues during pregnancy.
Discharge from and inflammation of the nose and eyes, fever and sneezing are all symptoms of FVR. While these symptoms may be mild in healthy cats and start to clear up after about 5 to 10 days, in more serious cases symptoms can last for 6 weeks or longer.
For kittens, senior cats and immune-compromised cats, symptoms of FHV-1 can persist and grow worse, leading to loss of appetite, severe weight loss, depression and sores in your cat's mouth. In cats that are already ill with FVR, bacterial infections can become a problem.
Even once signs of this disease have vanished, the virus stays dormant in your cat's body and can repeatedly return over your cat's lifetime.
Feline Calicivirus (FCV)
This virus is a major cause of upper respiratory infections and oral disease in cats.
Symptoms of feline calicivirus include nasal congestion, sneezing, eye inflammation, and clear or yellow discharge from the cat's eyes or nose. Some cats will also develop painful ulcers on their tongue, palate, lips or nose. Often cats infected with feline calicivirus suffer from loss of appetite (leading to weight loss), fever, enlarged lymph nodes, squinting and lethargy.
There are a number of 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 an extremely common and serious virus in cats that causes damage to bone marrow, lymph nodes and the cells lining the intestines. Symptoms of FPL include depression, loss of appetite, high fever, lethargy, vomiting, severe diarrhea, nasal discharge, and dehydration.
Cats infected with feline panleukopenia often 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.
No medications are currently available to kill the virus that causes FPL so treating cats with feline panleukopenia involves treating dehydration and shock through intravenous fluid therapy and intensive nursing care.
When should my cat receive their FVRCP vaccination?
At around the time they turn 6 to 8 weeks old, your cat should receive their first FVRCP vaccination. A booster shot should be administered every 3 to 4 weeks until they are about 16 to 20 weeks old. After that, your kitten will require another booster when they are just over a year old, and every 3 years throughout their lifetime.
To learn more about when your cat should receive their vaccinations, see our vaccination schedule.
What are the risks of side effects from the FVRCP vaccine?
It's unusual for cats to experience side effects as a result of vaccines. When they do happen, they tend to be very mild. Most cats that do have side effects will develop a slight fever and feel somewhat 'off' for a day or two. It is not uncommon for a small amount of swelling to occur at the vaccine site.
In extremely rare cases, more extreme reactions to vaccines may occur. In these circumstances, symptoms tend to appear before the cat has even left the veterinarian's office. That said, they can appear up to 48 hours after vaccination.
Symptoms of a more severe reaction including swelling around the eyes and lips, hives, vomiting, breathing challenges, diarrhea, fever and itchiness.
If your cat is exhibiting any of the more severe symptoms of the reactions listed above, contact your vet immediately or visit the emergency animal hospital closest to 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.