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The FVCRP Vaccination for Your Cat

Randy Walker DVM

About Vaccinations...

Vaccinations are an important part of your cat's preventive health program. Here at Sun Lakes Animal Clinic we routinely recommend three vaccinations for cats and these are the (1) Rabies vaccination; (2) Feline Leukemia Vaccination; and (3) FVCRP vaccination (also commonly called the "Feline Distemper Shot", '"Kitten Shot", or "3-Way Shot").

What Do The Letters FVCRP Stand For?

Feline

Viral:

Calici

Rhinotracheitis

Panleukopenia

Briefly, Describe What Each Of These Diseases Is:

CALICI is an infectious disease of cats caused by a virus. Together with the Rhinotracheitis virus (discussed below), Calici accounts for about 90% of the upper respiratory (cold-like) disease in cats. Signs of Calici virus infection are discharge from the nose and eyes, sneezing, lethargy, excess drooling (due to ulcers in the mouth), and lack of appetite. These signs can vary from case to case with some infected cats showing little or no symptoms while some other patients can develop very severe signs including pneumonia and death. Occasionally, young kittens infected with the Calici virus can develop a severe diarrhea and vomiting syndrome which often results in death and which very much resembles Panleukopenia (discussed below). Also, in some cases, the Calici virus can infiltrate the brain and cause convulsions and death. Infection with Calici virus is usually due to exposure to sneezed (or coughed) droplets from an affected cat . Calici virus can exist in an infectious state outside the body for about 8-10 days (meaning that a cat shedding Calici virus can sneeze on a surface one day and another cat can come by 10 days later and lick this surface and become infected). Some cats can become chronic carriers of Calici virus and so can transmit the disease to other cats even though they themselves show little or no illness. Calici virus does not afflict other animals or man.

RHINOTRACHEITIS is the other major cause (along with Calici described above) of upper respiratory tract (cold-like) disease in cats. As mentioned before, Rhinotracheitis and Calici account for about 90% of cases of feline respiratory tract disease. The Rhinotracheitis virus is in the Herpes family of viruses. Although the Herpes viruses also include the viruses that cause "cold sores" and genital herpes in humans, feline herpes virus is not infectious for people. Similar to other herpes-type viruses, the Rhinotracheitis virus has the ability to "hide" inside certain cells of the body (called a latent infection) and can lay dormant for years, only coming out occasionally to express itself as disease. The carrier state (meaning a cat who is infected with and shedding the virus though not showing illness itself) is very common with Feline Herpes Virus (Rhinotracheitis). The main clinical signs of Rhinotracheitis are those of an upper respiratory infection (cold-like illness) with discharge from the nose and eyes, sneezing, coughing, drooling, lethargy, and loss of appetite. Severe infections can sometimes result in pneumonia and death. In some cases the Rhinotracheitis virus can attack the liver resulting in severe illness and usually death. Sometimes (especially in untreated cases) the virus can attack the eyes severely enough to cause blindness. If a pregnant cat contracts Rhinotracheitis virus (Feline Herpes Virus), the infection can be transmitted to the unborn kittens in the womb and can result in miscarriages or still births.

PANLEUKOPENIA (commonly called Feline Distemper) is a severe disease of cats caused by a virus. The Panleukopenia virus is in the Parvo family of viruses and the clinical. signs produced by infection with Panleukopenia are similar to Parvo in dogs. In fact, it is thought that the parvo virus of dogs originally formed as a mutation of the Panleukopenia virus although neither virus is capable of infecting the other species (Panleukopenia can't infect dogs nor can Parvo infect cats). As with Parvo in dogs, Panleukopenia affects young cats (kittens) most severely. The clinical signs of Panleukopenia are similar to parvo in dogs and these are severe vomiting and diarrhea (often with blood in it), dehydration, lethargy, lack of appetite, shock and often death (especially in untreated cases). If a pregnant cat contracts Panleukopenia the virus can attack the brains of the unborn kittens, resulting in severe problems with coordination in the kittens after birth. As with Parvo virus in dogs, the Panleukopenia virus can exist for long periods of time (1-2 years) in an infectious stage after being shed by an affected cat. Because of this your cat does not need direct contact with another cat to be exposed to Panleukopenia.

What Is The Protocol For The FVCRP Vaccination In Kittens?

At Sun Lakes Animal Clinic we recommend an initial vaccination at 6 weeks of age followed by a booster vaccination at 9 weeks (along with Felv test and first Felv vaccination at that time).

How Often Should The FVCRP Vaccination Be Boostered In The Adult Cat?

We recommend boostering the FVCRP vaccination once-a-year.


- Randy Walker DVM
Sun Lakes Animal Clinic
May 17,2004



"Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened."
- Anatole France, 1921 Nobel Prize Speech -


Titlebar Image: The Gentle Doctor, 1937-38 by Christian Peterson (U84.179) - Iowa State University