Does My Cat Need The FVRCP Vaccine?

Here's how the FVRCP vaccine protects your cat 💉

FVRCP vaccine for cats

You’ve heard your vet mention that your cat needs to get the FVRCP vaccine — but what exactly is it?

The FVRCP vaccine is super important because it actually protects your cat against multiple diseases, and it’s one of the vaccines your cat should definitely have.

The Dodo spoke with Dr. Cristina Bustamante, an associate veterinarian with Caring Hands Animal Hospital in Florida and founder of Dr. B. Vet, to find out why all cats need the FVRCP cat vaccine.

What is the FVRCP vaccine?

The FVRCP vaccine is a combination vaccine for cats that protects against three different diseases. “FVRCP vaccine protects against feline viral rhinotracheitis (feline herpes virus), calicivirus and panleukopenia virus,” Dr. Bustamante told The Dodo.

The FVRCP vaccine is considered a core vaccine, meaning every cat should get it. It builds your cat’s immunity against these three viral diseases to protect him.

“The FVRCP vaccine prepares the body’s immune system to recognize viral particles,” Dr. Bustamante said. “If the cat is exposed in the future to FVRCP viruses, the cat’s immune system will fight the virus effectively.”

The FVRCP vaccine is a core vaccine because the diseases it protects against are easy to spread and can cause serious health issues, so it’s super important for every cat to get vaccinated with the FVRCP vaccine.

What is feline herpes?

Feline herpes is a contagious disease that can affect your cat’s upper respiratory system, but it can also cause him eye issues, too.

Symptoms from the feline herpes virus can be pretty serious. These include:

  • Sneezing
  • Congestion
  • Fever
  • Nasal discharge
  • Eye discharge
  • Lethargy
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Keratitis (aka cornea inflammation and infection)
  • Anorexia

There’s no cure for feline herpes, so some symptoms can last your cat’s entire life if he can’t get effective treatment for those symptoms.

“Cats with herpes virus infections can have recurring symptoms throughout their lives, which commonly show as conjunctivitis,” Dr. Bustamante said.

And it spreads super easily. Your cat can get it through directly coming into contact with an infected cat’s saliva, nose discharge or eye discharge. Or, if an infected cat sneezes near him, he can get feline herpes by inhaling those sneeze droplets.

Your cat can also get infected if he comes into contact with contaminated objects, like food, water bowls, toys or bedding an infected cat has been using (and really anything that has saliva or discharge on it from an infected cat’s runny nose or watering eyes).

Cats with feline herpes will be treated for their symptoms, so your vet might recommend different approaches depending on the issues your cat is experiencing.

What is feline calicivirus?

Feline calicivirus is a very contagious disease among cats. It can cause respiratory infections and oral diseases.

Most strains of the virus are mild, but other strains can be pretty serious.

Mild feline calicivirus symptoms look pretty similar to feline herpes symptoms. They include:

  • Sneezing
  • Congestion
  • Fever
  • Nasal discharge
  • Eye discharge
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of appetite
  • Drooling
  • Lameness

There’s also a mutation of feline calicivirus — known as FCV-VSD — that can have more severe symptoms, like:

  • Head swelling
  • Sores
  • Hair loss
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Liver damage

Infected cats will shed the virus through sneeze particles, eye and nasal discharge, and saliva. So your cat can get the disease if he comes into contact with those things.

It’s also possible that an infected cat can shed the virus in his poop or urine, too.

A lot of cats get feline calicivirus from being in a multi-cat environment, particularly in shelters or boarding facilities, because the virus can survive in the environment for up to one month, which is a pretty long time.

That’s why your cat can get infected from contaminated objects like toys, bedding and bowls.

There’s no explicit treatment for feline calicivirus itself, so treatment will vary depending on what symptoms your cat is showing and how intense his infection is.

What is panleukopenia?

Panleukopenia (aka feline distemper) is a super contagious, potentially fatal virus that affects your cat’s blood cells.

“Panleukopenia virus causes a very dangerous decrease in their white blood cells, which are needed to fight infections,” Dr. Bustamante said. “When cats have low white blood cells, they can get very dangerous secondary bacterial infections.”

This virus is actually pretty similar to the one that causes parvovirus in dogs, which is why panleukopenia is also sometimes called feline parvovirus (although, it’s important to note they are two separate viruses).

Symptoms of panleukopenia include:

  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Anemia
  • Weight loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Neurological issues
  • Not eating

It’s incredibly easy for a cat to be exposed to panleukopenia because the virus can survive in the environment for up to a year. Plus, an infected cat sheds the virus through any excretion, including poop.

Like the other viruses, panleukopenia doesn’t have a direct treatment. Instead, infected cats will need intense care and a ton of fluids so their immune systems can bounce back and fight off the virus itself.

Getting your cat treatment ASAP is crucial for him to make a full recovery.

How much does the FVRCP vaccine cost?

The FVRCP vaccine cost is going to vary depending on where your cat gets vaccinated.

“FVRCP vaccines at animal hospitals usually range about $30, but you can also find more affordable, even free options at low-cost vaccine clinics and shelters,” Dr. Bustamante said.

(Keep in mind that the total cost at the vet might be higher, considering you’ll probably have to pay for an office visit as well.)

The FVRCP vaccine is crucial and relatively inexpensive. So, there’s really no reason your cat shouldn’t get this combination vaccine — and a ton of reasons why he should.

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