FVRCP Cat Vaccine: What You Need to Know

This core vaccine helps protect cats against three highly contagious and life-threatening feline diseases. Our Lethbridge vets explain the FVRCP cat vaccine in detail, how often it should be administered and potential side effects.

What are core vaccines for cats?

Vets strongly recommend core vaccines for all cats, whether they spend the majority of their time indoors or outdoors. The FVRCP vaccine is one of two such vaccines. The other is the Rabies vaccine, which is not only recommended but also legally required in most provinces. 

While you might think that your indoor cat would be safe from infectious diseases like those listed below, viruses that cause these serious feline conditions may survive for up to one year on surfaces, meaning that if your indoor cat were to escape just once - even for a short time - they would be in danger of being in contact with viruses that can cause serious illness. 

Which conditions does the FVRCP vaccine protect cats against?

The FVRCP vaccine has proven extremely effective in protecting cats against three highly contagious, life-threatening diseases that can afflict our feline friends: Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (which is represented by the FVR in the vaccine's name), Feline Calicivirus (C) and Feline Panleukopenia (represented 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 80-90% of all infectious upper respiratory diseases in cats. The disease can impact your cat's windpipe and nose, in addition to causing issues in pregnant kitties. 

Signs of FVR include inflammation in and discharge from the nose and eyes, sneezing, and fever. While these symptoms may be mild and start to clear after about 5-10 days for healthy adult cats, more severe symptoms caused by FVR can last for up to six weeks or longer. 

In cats with compromised immune systems, FHV-1 can persist and worsen. The same is true for senior cats and kittens. Persistent cases can lead to severe weight loss, sores on the interior of your cat's mouth, loss of appetite, and depression. Cats that have fallen ill with Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis may also have bacterial infections. 

Even after symptoms of FVR have cleared up, the virus stays dormant in your cat's body, causing them to experience flare-ups throughout their lifetime.

Feline Calicivirus (FCV)

One major cause of oral disease and upper respiratory infections in cats is feline calicivirus (FCV). Signs include inflammation in the eyes, yellow or clear discharge from an infected cat's eyes or nose, sneezing and nasal congestion. Some cats with the infection will also suffer from fever, squinting, lethargy, enlarged lymph nodes, loss of appetite and weight loss. 

Multiple strains of FCV exist. While some can cause a buildup of fluid in the lungs (pneumonia), others lead to symptoms including lameness, fever and pain in the joints. 

Feline Panleukopenia (FPL)

Feline Panleukopennia (FPL) is a serious yet very common virus in cats that leads to the cells lining your cat's intestines becoming damaged, along with lymph nodes and bone marrow. Vomiting, severe diarrhea, dehydration nasal discharge, high fever, loss of appetite, lethargy and depression are all symptoms of FPL. 

Cats with this infection often develop secondary infections due to their immune systems growing weaker. While cats of any age can suffer from the disease, it is often fatal in kittens. 

Currently, no medications are available to kill the virus that causes FPL. Treatment for cats with feline panelukopenia involves using intensive nursing care and intravenous fluid therapy. 

When should my cat receive the FVRCP vaccination?

To best protect your kitty against FHV, FCV and FPL, ensure your cat receives their first FVRCP shot at approximately 6-8 weeks old. A booster shot should be administered every three or four weeks until they're approximately 16-20 weeks old. Your feline friend will need another booster when they are just over a year old, and then every three years during their lifetime. 

See our vaccination schedule for more information on when your cat should receive specific vaccines. 

How much does the FVRCP cat vaccine cost?

The cost of the FVRCP vaccine for your cat will vary depending on several factors, including your location. Ask your vet for more information and a specific cost estimate. Our dedicated team will always provide you with a cost estimate for any procedure, and ensure that you understand associated costs. 

What is the risk of side effects from the FVRCP vaccine?

While it's unusual for cats to experience reactions to the FVRCP vaccine and others, when they do happen they tend to be very mild. When side effects appear, they tend to occur in the form of a slight fever that may make a kitty feel a little "off" for a day or two. You may notice your cat is sneezing after receiving the FVRCP vaccine. A small amount of swelling surrounding the injection site is also not unusual. 

More extreme reactions are very rare. In these cases, symptoms can include itchiness, breathing difficulties, vomiting, diarrhea, swelling around the eyes or lips, and hives. They typically appear within a short time frame - sometimes even before you've left the vet's office with your cat, or up to 48 hours after your kitty has been vaccinated. 

If your cat is showing any of these more severe symptoms listed above, get in touch with your vet immediately or visit 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.

Looking to learn more about the FVRCP vaccine and other shots your cat needs? Contact our veterinary hospital to book an appointment.

(403) 328-0028