If you are a cat owner, your cat has probably received the FVRCP vaccination. But do you know what it does?
The FVRCP vaccination protects your cat against three contagious diseases. Kittens receive four FVRCP injections, starting at the age of six to eight weeks. A booster shot is typically given annually, though some experts believe a less frequent booster shot would be just as effective.
- FVR = Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis. This is a severe upper respiratory infection that is most dangerous to young kittens and older cats. The virus is extremely contagious to cats, and is caused by a feline herpes virus. FVR can leave some cats with permanent respiratory system and optical damage.
- C = calcivirus. There are several different strains of calcivirus, causing a range of illness from mild infection to life-threatening pneumonia. The more dangerous strains can be deadly to young kittens and older cats. Calcivirus is transmitted through direct contact with an infected cat or an infected item. A carrier cat can pass the virus on for up to one year.
- P = panleukopenia, also known as feline distemper. Feline distemper is a highly contagious disease that moves very quickly through the system. It is caused by a parvovirus similar to the parvovirus seen in dogs. As many as ninety percent of young kittens (under six months old) with panleukopenia do not survive the virus. The disease is most severe in young kittens but can affect cats of all ages. Panleukopenia may remain active in the environment for up to a year without a host.
The FVRCP vaccine is very effective in preventing rhinotracheitis, calcivirus, and panleukopenia.
What’s the alternative to vaccination? If you are concerned that you are over-vaccinating your pet, talk to your veterinarian. A cat that never goes outside and never has contact with other cats may be safe with less frequent vaccinations. However, if your cat spends time outdoors or is in a situation with other cats (like a boarding facility), annual vaccines should be a serious consideration.