Caring for your cat includes bringing them to the vet for routine vaccinations, exams, and parasite prevention. Vaccines are used to help protect them against serious illnesses and diseases. Here, our vets in Columbia share some vital information about the FVRCP vaccine, what it protects against, and what you need to know about these vaccinations.

How Vaccinations Help to Protect Your Cat's Health

The FVRCP cat vaccine is one of two core vaccines your kitty should have. Core vaccines are shots that are strongly recommended for all cats, whether they spend most of their time indoors or outdoors. The Rabies vaccine is the other core vaccine for cats — it's not only recommended but required by law in most states. 

While you may think your indoor cat is safe from infectious diseases such as those listed below, the viruses that cause these serious feline conditions can survive for up to a year on surfaces. This means if your indoor cat sneaks outside for even a short period, they risk coming in contact with the virus and falling seriously ill. 

In this post, we'll discuss conditions the FVRCP vaccine can protect your cat against and when your cat should receive the vaccination. We'll also explain cats' potential reactions to and side effects from the FVRCP vaccine, and what to do if they occur. 

What is the FVRCP vaccine used for?

The FVRCP vaccine effectively protects your kitty companion from three highly contagious and life-threatening feline diseases: Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (the FVR part of the vaccine's name), Feline Calicivirus (the C), and Feline Panleukopenia (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 diseases in cats. The disease can impact your kitty's nose and windpipe in addition to causing issues during pregnancy.

Signs of FVR include inflamed eyes and nose, discharge from the eyes and nose, fever, and sneezing. While these symptoms may be mild in adult cats and start to clean up after 5 to 10 days, in more severe cases FVR symptoms can last for six weeks or longer. 

Symptoms of FHV-1 may persist and worsen for kittens, senior cats, and immune-compromised cats, leading to loss of appetite, severe weight loss, sores inside the mouth, and depression. In cats that are already sick with Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, bacterial infections often occur, leading to worsening health. 

Even after symptoms of FVR have cleared up, the virus stays dormant within your cat's body and may flare up repeatedly over your feline friend'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 several different strains of FCV, some produce fluid buildup in the lungs (pneumonia), and others lead to symptoms such as fever, joint pain, and lameness.

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 frequently develop secondary infections as well, due to the weakened state of their immune systems. While 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 managing the symptoms such as dehydration and shock through intravenous fluid therapy and intensive nursing care.

When should you bring your cat in for the FVRCP vaccine?

To provide your feline friend with the best possible protection 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 three or four weeks until they are about 16-20 weeks old. 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 be receiving their vaccines see our vaccination schedule.

FVRCP Cat Vaccine Cost

The cost of this vaccination will vary depending on the brand of vaccine your veterinarian uses and where you live. Your vet can provide a cost estimate for the vaccination. 

Risk of Your Cat Having a Reaction to 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 reactions to or side effects from the vaccine will develop a slight fever and feel a little 'off' for a day or two. You may notice your cat sneezing after the FVRCP vaccine. It is also 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 situations, 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. The symptoms of a more severe reaction may include hives, swelling around the lips and eyes, itchiness, fever, diarrhea, vomiting, and 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 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.

Would you like to schedule your cat for routine vaccinations including the FVRCP vaccine? Contact our Columbia vets today to book an appointment for your feline friend.