For cats, core vaccines are the basic distemper shot (FVRCP) and rabies vaccine.
What is FVRCP?
FVR: Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis
Just like the human common cold, the virus that causes this upper respiratory tract infection is easily transmitted from one cat to another, so vaccination is imperative if your pet will come in contact with other cats. Its symptoms may take the form of moderate fever, loss of appetite, sneezing, eye and nasal discharges. Kittens are particularly affected but this disease can be dangerous in any unprotected cat, as effective treatment is limited. Even if a cat recovers, it can remain a carrier for life.
This virus is another major cause of upper respiratory tract infection in cats. Widespread and highly contagious, its symptoms of fever, ulcers and blisters on the tongue and pneumonia (inflammation of the lungs) can range from mild to severe, depending on the strain of virus present. Treatment of this disease can be difficult. Even if recovery does take place, a recovered cat can continue to infect other animals, as well as experience chronic sneezing, runny eyes and severe gum disease. Vaccination is therefore tremendously important.
Sometimes known as feline distemper, this disease is caused by a virus so resistant, it can survive up to one year outside a cat’s body! Therefore, as most cats will be exposed to it during their lifetimes and infection rates in unprotected cats can run as high as 90% to 100%, vaccination against this potentially fatal disease is absolutely essential. Symptoms can include listlessness, diarrhea, vomiting, severe dehydration, fever and death. Happily, the vaccine itself is very effective in preventing the disease, as treatment is very difficult.
FVRCP should be given to your kittens between 6-8 weeks of age and then every 3-4 weeks until 16 weeks of age. A booster vaccine is given at 1 year of age and then every year thereafter.
What is Rabies?
This incurable viral disease affects the central nervous system of almost all mammals, including humans. It is spread through contact with saliva of infected animals (which can include skunks, foxes, raccoons and bats) through bites or any break in the skin. Vaccination will provide cats with a much greater resistance to rabies if they are exposed to the disease. You must be aware that there is no cure once it occurs. For this reason, many municipalities absolutely require that all cats receive rabies vaccinations on a regular basis. Plus, you will definitely have to provide vaccination records if you ever want to travel with your cat across the country or around the world.
The Rabies vaccine is given when your kitten is 3-4 months old and then every year after that.
FeLV (Non-Core Vaccine)
Infection with the Feline Leukemia Virus can result in a multitude of serious health problems for your cat – everything from cancerous conditions such as leukemia to a wide range of secondary infections caused by the destruction of the immune system. In fact, it is a leading cause of death in North American cats. After initial exposure to the virus, a cat may show no symptoms for months, if not years. Testing is available to determine the FeLV status of your cat. If he or she has not yet been infected, but is likely to come in contact with cats that are, vaccination against this potentially fatal disease is highly recommended.