The FVRCP Vaccination

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The feline distemper vaccine, or FVRCP vaccine, is an important preventative step to keeping your cat healthy. The vaccination prevents three airborne viruses that can be deadly: rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, and panleukopenia.

Let’s take a look at each of these diseases, and how the FVRCP can protect your cat.

Feline Rhinotracheitis Virus

Feline rhinotracheitis virus (feline herpesvirus 1, or FVP) is a common cause of respiratory disease. Infection can be chronic, even life-long, and can lead to recurrences that can cause respiratory and eye disease. It spreads through airborne respiratory secretions, such as mucus and saliva, or direct contact with an infected cat or contaminated objects.

Symptoms of FVP include sneezing, runny nose, and drooling. A cat’s eyes can become crusted with mucus, and FVP can cause a cat to sleep more and eat less than normal. If untreated, FVP can cause dehydration, starvation, and death.


Also a common viral respiratory disease, calicivirus can cause mouth sores that result in severe oral pain for your cat. This disease is spread by direct contact with an infected cat or with contaminated objects. It is resistant to disinfectants, so it is nearly impossible to get rid of once it is in an environment.

If left untreated, calicivirus can result in pneumonia.


Highly infectious, panleukopenia is a severe, sometimes fatal, disease of the gastrointestinal tract, immune system, and nervous system. It is caused by direct contact with an infected cat or with particles in the environment. Panleukopenia causes a severe decrease in white blood cells.

It is most common in young kittens who have not yet been vaccinated. Symptoms of panleukopenia include fever, vomiting, and bloody diarrhea. Infection requires immediate attention and progresses rapidly. An untreated cat can die within 12 hours of contracting panleukopenia.


Cats can contract these viruses at any age, so vaccinations are important for prevention. Kittens should receive an initial FVRCP vaccination at 6 to 8 weeks old, and three additional booster shots once a month. Adult cats should receive booster shots once every year or two. Cats with unknown vaccination records should receive an FVRCP vaccine and one booster. FVRCP is a live vaccine and should not be given to pregnant cats.

If you are unsure about whether your cat has received his or her FVRCP vaccinations, or you believe your cat shows any of the above symptoms, immediately contact your veterinarian. From initial vaccinations to treatment of ill cats, Falls Road Veterinary Hospital is here to keep your furry friends safe, healthy, and happy!

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