Vaccinations are vital to the lifelong health of your feline friend. Here, our vets in Doraville discuss the FVRCP vaccine, how it helps protect your cat, when it should be given and if there are any side effects you should be aware of.

Vaccinations for Disease Prevention in Cats

The FVRCP cat vaccine and the rabies vaccine are the two core vaccines your cat should receive. These shots are strongly recommended for all cats, regardless of whether they spend most of their time indoors or outdoors. The rabies vaccine is not just recommended – it's legally required in most states.

Even if your cat is primarily indoors, it's crucial to understand that the viruses causing serious feline conditions listed below can survive on surfaces for up to a year. So, if your indoor cat manages to slip outside for even a short period, they could be exposed to these viruses and become seriously ill.

This post delves into the conditions the FVRCP vaccine protects your cat against and outlines when your cat should receive the vaccination. We'll also cover potential reactions and side effects from the FVRCP vaccine in cats and guide what to do if they occur.

What can the FVRCP vaccine help protect against?

The FVRCP vaccine shields your feline friend from three serious and highly contagious diseases: Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (represented by the FVR in the vaccine's name), Feline Calicivirus (the C), and Feline Panleukopenia (indicated by the P at the end of the vaccine's name). 

Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (FHV-1)

Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (FVR, feline herpesvirus type 1, or FHV-1) is thought to be responsible for up to 80 to 90% of all infectious upper respiratory tract diseases in cats. The disease can affect your kitten's nose and windpipe, as well as causing problems during pregnancy. 

Signs of FVR include inflammation of the eyes and nose, runny eyes and nose, fever, and sneezing. While these symptoms may be mild in adult cats and start to clear up after five to ten days, in more severe cases, FVR symptoms can last for six weeks or longer. 

FHV-1 symptoms may persist and worsen in kittens, older cats, and immunocompromised cats, leading to loss of appetite, severe emaciation, sores inside the mouth, and depression. In cats already suffering from feline viral rhinotracheitis, bacterial infections often worsen their condition.

Even after the symptoms of the virus have passed, the FHV-1 virus will remain in your cat's body. It will mostly remain dormant, flaring up now and again.

Feline Calicivirus (FCV)

Feline calicivirus is a leading cause of respiratory illness in cats. The symptoms 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. Cats infected with feline calicivirus often suffer from loss of appetite, weight loss, fever, enlarged lymph nodes, squinting, and lethargy.

It's important to note that there are several 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 prevalent and severe virus in cats that harms bone marrow, lymph nodes, and the cells lining the cat's intestines. Symptoms include depression, loss of appetite, high fever, lethargy, vomiting, severe diarrhea, nasal discharge and dehydration.

Due to their weakened immune systems, cats with FPL often develop secondary infections. Although this disease can affect cats of any age, it is particularly fatal in kittens.

Currently, there are no medications to eliminate the FPL virus. Therefore, treating cats with feline panleukopenia involves actively managing symptoms such as dehydration and shock through intravenous fluid therapy and providing intensive nursing care.

When should your cat receive the FVRCP vaccine and ongoing booster shots?

Ensure optimal protection for your cat against FHV, FCV and FPL by administering the first FVRCP vaccination at six to eight weeks old. Follow up with booster shots every three to four weeks until your cat reaches four to five months old. Provide another booster just over a year later, and continue with boosters every three years for the rest of their lives.

See our vaccination schedule for more information about when your cat should receive their vaccines.

How much does the FVRCP vaccine cost?

When your cat has the FVRCP vaccine, the cost will vary depending on the brand of vaccine your veterinarian uses and where you live. Speak with your vet to obtain an estimate and discuss the cost and any concerns you may have.

Can my cat have a reaction to the FVRCP vaccine?

Vaccines rarely cause side effects in cats – when they do, they are typically mild. If your cat experiences a reaction, it may develop a slight fever and feel a bit off for a day or two. Your cat may experience reactions like sneezing and swelling at the injection site after the FVRCP vaccine. These are not uncommon.

In rare cases, a cat may react more severely to the vaccine. Symptoms may manifest either before leaving the vet's office or up to 48 hours after vaccination. Signs of a severe reaction include hives, swelling around the lips and eyes, itchiness, fever, diarrhea, vomiting, and breathing difficulties. If your cat exhibits these severe symptoms, contact your vet or head to 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.

Is it time for your cat to receive the FVRCP and other life-saving vaccinations? Contact our Doraville vets today to book an appointment for your feline friend.