Feline Vaccinations

Feline Vaccinations

6-8 weeks of age
  • FVRCP—every 3-4 weeks for 2-3 total vaccinations
9 weeks and  older
  • FVRCP—every 3-4 weeks for 2-3 total vaccinations (last one given after 16 weeks of age), then annually
  • Rabies—Initial at 12 weeks of age, booster in 12 months, then every 3 years
  • Feline Leukemia, if at risk – Initial, booster in 3 weeks, then annually (A negative Feline Leukemia Test is required prior to vaccination.)

Vaccinations Explained

FVRCP vaccine helps protect against three viruses called Feline Herpesvirus 1(Rhinotracheitis/FHV-1), Calicivirus, and Panleukopenia (FPV/Feline Distemper).  Depending upon your cat's lifestyle, there is a 1 year or 3 year vaccine available.  Kittens will need 2-3 boosters given 3-4 weeks apart.

Feline Herpesvirus 1 (FHV-1) is a contagious virus of the upper respiratory tract that infects the nose and throat.  Many cats can be asymptomatic (not showing signs of disease), but still be a carrier and therefore spread the disease.  Signs include sneezing attacks, nasal discharge, loss of smell, eyelid twitching, eye discharge, conjunctivitis, decreased appetite, fever, and loss of pregnancy.  Treatment includes oral antibiotics, eye medications, and nutritional support.  If your cat has this virus it is best to keep stress levels to a minimum and isolate it from other cats.  Improvement of signs should be seen in 7-10 days.

Calicivirus is another highly contagious virus.  Cats most at risk for this disease are outdoor cats, multi-cat households, cats that go to grooming or boarding facilities, or cats that come from a shelter or cattery.  New cats that come into the household should be quarantined from other cats. Calicivirus affects the upper respiratory tract, mouth with ulceration of the tongue, and the intestines.  Signs include anorexia, eye or nasal discharge, ulcers in the mouth, pneumonia, arthritis, lameness, fever, and bleeding from various sites.  This virus is resistant to disinfectants. Treatment includes different medications to address the clinical signs and antibiotics.  The vaccine helps decrease symptoms if your cat comes in contact with this virus.

Panleukopenia (FPV/Feline Distemper) is also known as feline parvovirus.  It is extremely contagious and often fatal if contracted.  It is shed in bodily fluids such as urine and feces.  It can live in the environment for a long time.  Once a cat becomes infected, it can take a few days to up to six weeks to shed the virus.  Panleukopenia attacks the intestinal tract and immune system.  It lowers the white blood cell count, making the cat unable to fight off severe infections they may develop.  Signs include fever, vomiting, lethargy, dehydration, and diarrhea.  Kittens that develop the virus before birth or in the first few days of life and survive will develop severe brain/nerve damage, and typically have difficulty standing and walking.  There is no cure.  Treatment involves supportive care of signs and antibiotics.

Rabies is a deadly virus (there is no cure!) that is contracted from a bite of an infected animal.  Raccoons, bats, foxes, and skunks are the primary wildlife carriers.  This virus is usually transmitted by saliva.  The Rabies virus attacks the central nervous system and all warm blooded animals are susceptible.  Early signs include fever, nervousness, and hiding.  Signs then progress to aggression or erratic behavior, and end with paralysis, seizures, and death.  An animal can appear drunk or unable to walk and drool because its throat muscles become paralyzed.  Keep pets away from wildlife and stray animals to minimize the risk of contracting this disease.  Testing of brain tissue from a deceased animal is the only way to test for this deadly virus.

Because of the severity of this disease, if your pet bites or scratches someone, they will be issued a 10 day quarantine.  If the animal is current on its Rabies vaccine this quarantine can be completed in home with three exams done by a veterinarian within the 10 days.  If the animal is unvaccinated or past due on the Rabies vaccine, an in-hospital quarantine is required for 10 days.

Feline Leukemia is a contagious and often fatal virus.  It is generally transmitted through saliva or to kittens that are in utero or nursing.  It is easily killed by disinfectants and does not survive long in the environment.  Infected cats can transmit the disease without showing any signs of being infected.  This virus is "tricky" in that some cats can eliminate the infection before they get sick, others can "hide" it within their body until it causes problems later in life, and still other cats can be carriers and have various illnesses before their body succumbs to the disease.  Signs include anemia, leukemia, immune suppression, fever, lethargy, chronic respiratory infection, chronic dental/oral/gum infections, and cancer of the lymphatic system.  There is no cure for feline leukemia.  New cats coming into a household should be tested for the feline leukemia virus.  All cats should have a negative test prior to being vaccinated.  The vaccine is recommended on a yearly basis for at risk cats.  If conditions change and your cat becomes indoor only and has no exposure to other cats, you may discontinue giving this vaccine.