Cat Vaccines

VACCINATIONS: Many serious diseases can be prevented by vaccination. Vaccination is inexpensive protection against costly medical treatment or the premature loss of your cat. Please discuss the following vaccines with one of our Veterinarians.

FVRCP VACCINE – The so-called “distemper/upper respiratory” vaccine, protects against 3 different infectious diseases: panleukopenia (feline distemper), feline viral rhinotracheitis and calcivirus. Panleukopenia causes severe vomiting and diarrhea, and is usually fatal. The other diseases cause severe, debilitating respiratory symptoms. We recommend vaccinating kittens every 3-4 weeks between the ages of 6 and 14 weeks of age; older cats should receive two initial vaccinations 3-4 weeks apart. Remember: after initial immunity is established, regular FVRCP boosters are required to maintain immunity. Recommended for all cats, even those that live only indoors.

RABIES VACCINE – Required by law for all cats 4 months of age or older, even if housed strictly indoors. Cannot be given before 3 months of age. Must be administered under supervision of a licensed Veterinarian. The first vaccine is good for one year; subsequent boosters are then given at three-year intervals. Owners must be able to produce a valid certificate of rabies vaccination. Rabies is a fatal disease, which both people and animals may contract through skin wounds.

FELINE LEUKEMIA VACCINE – Feline leukemia is a contagious virus spread by direct contact between cats, and is transmitted by body fluids, usually through fighting and mating. It can also be transmitted from a mother to her kittens, either in the womb or through nursing. It is one of the leading killers of cats today. It depresses a cat’s immune system and can lead to a variety of secondary infections and cancers, including leukemia. It is incurable, and usually fatal. If your cat goes outside, or will be exposed to other cats that do, you are strongly urged to vaccinate your cat against this disease. Two vaccinations 3-4 weeks apart are administered to cats over 8 weeks of age to establish immunity; annual boosters are the required to maintain immunity. We also recommend that all cats be feline leukemia tested prior to vaccination, since the vaccine will be of no benefit to cats already infected with the virus.

FIP – “Feline infectious peritonitis” is a poorly-understood viral disease of cats which causes a variety of symptoms and is usually fatal. Cats at most risk are outdoor cats and those that live in multiple cat households. There is currently no reliable test for this disease. Diagnosis is made by evaluating sysmtoms and ruling out other causes. A vaccine exists, but has fallen out of favor with most veterinarians and is, thus, no longer offered at our hospital.

FIV – “Feline immunodefienciency virus”, has been labeled as “the cat AIDS virus” because of its similarities to human immunodefienciency virus (HIV). In cats, the virus is thought to be spread by blood to blood contact, primarily through bite wounds. It is not transmissible to people or other animal species. Its incidence is highest among outdoor cats (especially male) that engage in fighting. Like AIDS, it depresses a cat’s immune system, making the cat susceptible to many secondary infections. There is a reliable blood test for FIV that can be done in combination with the feline leukemia test. A vaccine also exists, but has been slow to gain acceptance by veterinarians because it can interfere with the blood test. Keeping your cat indoors is its best protection against FIV and many other diseases.