The Feline Distemper Vaccine

What Does the FVRCP Vaccine Protect Against? 

The FVRCP vaccine (often called “the distemper vaccine”) actually protects against THREE contagious viral infections in cats.

Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis: The rhinotracheitis virus (herpesvirus type 1) is a common cause of upper respiratory tract disease in cats. Infection often results in chronic (life-long) infection with intermittent “flares” of illness. Herpesvirus is spread through airborne secretions or from contaminated environments. Symptoms during a flare-up can include sneezing, nasal congestion, conjunctivitis, and discharge from the eyes and nose. Mild cases may recover with symptomatic treatment, but cats who experience frequent flares of disease may have to be on anti-viral medications long-term. Antibiotics are often given to prevent SECONDARY bacterial infections.

Calicicirus: Calicivirus is a common cause of upper respiratory tract disease in cats but can be more severe that FVR (described above). Calicivirus is spread through airborne secretions or from contaminated environments. Symptoms of upper respiratory tract disease include sneezing, nasal congestion, conjunctivitis,and discharge from the eyes and nose. Calicivirus also causes painful ulcers (open sores) on the tongue, palate, gums, lips or nose which can result in anorexia and profuse salivation. Mild cases may recover with symptomatic treatment at home, but more severe cases involving ulceration and anorexia may require more intensive inpatient management at a hospital. Antibiotics are often given to prevent SECONDARY bacterial infections.

Panleukopenia: Panleukopenia is caused by the feline parvovirus. The feline parvovirus attacks the gastrointestinal tract, bone marrow and lymph nodes. Feline parvovirus is highly contagious and is spread through contaminated environments or from bites by fleas who have fed on an infected cat. Initial symptoms include fever, lethargy, anorexia, vomiting, severe diarrhea, nasal discharge and dehydration. More advanced infection results in destruction of a cat’s white blood cells (making it impossible for them to fight off infections) and red blood cells (leading to anemia). Panleukopenia is often fatal, however some cases can recover if disease is caught early and cats are given intensive (and expensive) supportive care at an inpatient hospital. For more information, refer to the Feline Panleukopenia Brochure produced by the AVMA.

Why Should I Vaccinate my Cat with FVRCP?

  1. The viral infections that the FVRCP (“Feline Distemper”) vaccine protect against are highly contagious and potentially fatal. Even those viruses that are not fatal can be expensive to treat. The cost of vaccination (generally about $30.00 every three years for adult cats) far outweighs the risks of not vaccinating.
  2. Vaccination not only protects YOUR cat from contracting these diseases, it also prevents the spread of disease in general, which keeps our pet population healthier as a whole.