Our veterinary team at Sweetwater Veterinary Clinic believes that prevention is an essential part of helping your kitty live a long and healthy life. Today our Santa Clarita vets talk about the FVRCP vaccine for cats and the conditions it helps to prevent.
Protect Your Cat with Core Vaccines
The FVRCP vaccine is one of the two core vaccines that are recommended for cats. Core vaccines are vaccines that are highly recommended for all cats regardless of whether they spend most of their time indoors or outdoors. The rabies vaccine is the other core vaccination, which isn't just recommended but is also required by law in the majority of states.
While you may think that your indoor kitty is safe from infectious diseases including the ones detailed below, the viruses that are responsible for these serious conditions in cats can survive on surfaces for up to a year. This means that if your indoor cat sneaks outside, if only for a minute, they are at risk of being exposed to a virus, and getting very sick.
Conditions the FVRCP Vaccine Prevents
The FVRCP vaccine is an extremely effective way to protect your kitty against 3 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)
It is believed that the feline viral rhinotracheitis (FVR, feline herpesvirus type 1, or FHV-1) is responsible for up to 80-90% of all infectious upper respiratory diseases in cats. This disease could affect your kitty's windpipe and nose, as well as cause problems throughout pregnancy.
Some of the common signs and symptoms of FVR include discharge from the eye and nose, sneezing, inflamed eyes and nose, and fever. These symptoms could be mild in adult cats that are healthy and can start to clear up in approximately 5-10 days, but in more serious situations the symptoms of FVR could last for 6 weeks or more.
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, 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.
You need to remember that there are various different strains of FCV. Some cause fluid buildups in the lungs (pneumonia), while others cause symptoms such as lameness, joint pain, and fever.
Feline Panleukopenia (FPL)
Feline Panleukopenia (FPL) is an extremely common and serious virus in cats that causes damage to bone marrow, lymph nodes, and the cells lining your cat's intestines. Symptoms of FPL include depression, loss of appetite, high fever, lethargy, vomiting, severe diarrhea, nasal discharge, and dehydration.
Cats infected with FPL often develop secondary infections as the result of the weakened state of their immune systems. 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 symptoms such as dehydration and shock through intravenous fluid therapy and intensive nursing care.
When Cats Should Get the FVRCP Vaccination
To make sure your cat is given the best protection possible against FHV, FCV, and FPL you need to make sure they get their first FVRCP vaccination when they are around 6-8 weeks old as well as their booster shots every three or four weeks until they are roughly 16-20 weeks old. Following this your kitty will require another booster when they are just over one year old, then every 3 years during their lifetime.
Contact your veterinarian to learn more about the recommended vaccination schedule for cats in your area.
Possible Reactions to the FVRCP Vaccine
It's not common for cats to develop side effects from vaccines, but when they do arise they are generally very mild. Most cats that do develop side effects will experience a slight fever and feel a little 'off' for a couple of days. However, It is not unusual for there to be a little bit of swelling at the injection site.
In a few extremely rare situations, more serious reactions can occur. In these cases, symptoms tend to appear before the cat has even left the vet's office, although they can arise up to 48 hours after the vaccination has been administered. More severe reaction symptoms could include swelling around the lips and eyes, hives, itchiness, diarrhea, fever, vomiting, and difficulties breathing.
If your cat is exhibiting any of the above severe reaction symptoms call your vet straight away or take your kitty to the closest emergency veterinary 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.