Friday, May 22, 2020

What is FVRCP?

We've shared many posts about the importance of taking your cats to the veterinarian at least once a year for wellness checkups. We even talked about the importance of vaccinations last year on our World Veterinary Day post. We'd like to share a little more detail about the most common vaccination - FVRCP. This vaccination helps prevent many viruses that may occur in felines.

What is FVRCP?

FVRCP is one of the vaccinations veterinarians will recommend as part of your cat's wellness examination. Even though your cat may not go outside, the FVRCP vaccination is an important part of your cat's core vaccine protocols. The FVRCP vaccination is a combination vaccination that helps protect against multiple diseases in cats.

What exactly do these letters represent and what do they mean? The FVRCP shot fights three feline viruses: rhinotracheitis, calicivirus and panleukopenia. The vaccination is named after the viruses: "FVR" for feline viral rhinotracheitis; "C" for calicivirus infection and "P" for panleukopenia (distemper). Knowing more about these illnesses, and the threats they pose to your cat, will illustrate why cats need protection from them. 

Brulee having her blood drawn for her semi-annual blood work

Breakdown of Viruses in FVRCP

Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis

Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis is also known as feline herpesvirus 1 or FHV-1. FHV-1 can lead to serious upper respiratory tract disease which includes rhinitis, sneezing, and conjunctivitis. Other possible symptoms that are less common include oral ulceration and primary pneumonia. This virus is similar to humans (cold sores) in that it can remain dormant in cats until they are stressed, which causes a flare-up of symptoms (Mitchell, 2019). A genuine concern of this virus is that it can impair a cat's pulmonary defense mechanisms, which can lead to secondary bacterial pneumonia of a co-infection with feline calcivirus.

Feline Calcivirus

Feline calcivirus (FCV) is similar to FHV-1 because it usually causes upper respiratory tract disease and oral ulceration. FCV can also cause chronic stomatitis, pneumonia, systemic disease, or lameness. Sometimes, a more severe strain, virulent systemic feline calicivirus (VS-FCV), can spread through a population of cats, which can result in more debilitating symptoms, as well as infection of the internal organs. Unfortunately, this more severe strain is frequently fatal.

Feline Panleukopenia

Feline Panleukopenia (feline distemper or FPV) is highly contagious with a high mortality rate. FPV causes anorexia, vomiting, fever, and severe diarrhea. This virus attacks the bone marrow and lymph nodes which leads to a low white blood cell count and prevents your cat from being able to trigger their immune system normally. 

All of these viruses are highly contagious. FVR and FCV are spread through sneezes, saliva, eye secretions, or the environment. FPV may be spread through the same bodily fluids, but is predominately spread through contact with contaminated feces (can live up to a year in the environment).

Brulee receiving her vaccination

Why is FVRCP Considered a Core Vaccination?

FVRCP is considered a core vaccination for cats because it helps protect them from "severe, life-threatening diseases that have global distributions (Day, Horzinek, Schultz, Squires; 2016)".  The Vaccination Guidelines Group (VGG) states that vaccines should not be given needlessly. "Core vaccines should not be given any more frequently than every three years after the 6- or 12-month booster injection following the kitten series, because the duration of immunity (DOI) is many years and may be up to the lifetime of the pet." The VGG continues to recommend that there should be regular (annually) health checks for cats, which may or may not require another core vaccination. 

Side Effects of FVRCP Vaccination

The majority of cats have little to no reaction to the FVRCP vaccination. Any reaction usually occurs within a few minutes to a few hours after the vaccination is given. Cats may develop hives, redness/swelling around the eyes or lips, or a mild fever. Some symptoms may include vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, and itchiness. It's important to note that reactions from vaccinations are RARE! Malignant sarcomas have also been linked to the FVRCP vaccine, but this is an extremely small percent of cats who received the vaccination. The VGG recommends that should an adverse reaction occur, veterinarians should "report all adverse events to the manufacturer and/or regulatory authority to help expand the knowledge that drives development of improved vaccine safety." 

It's important to know that the benefits of vaccinations greatly outweigh possible risks (AAFP, 2013).

Truffle and Brulee at Vet

Personal Experience

Before I tell you about my experience with this vaccination, I must tell you that I am in complete support of vaccinations for cats, unless there is a medical reason not to get them.

Truffle and Brulee visit the veterinarian for wellness checkups every 6 months. This checkup includes bloodwork, urinalysis, physical examination, flea treatment, and required/recommended vaccinations (FVRCP and Rabies). South Carolina requires the rabies vaccination each year and my cats receive their FVRCP vaccination every 3 years. 

I've been very careful with vaccinations with both girls because Truffle's litter mate developed a sarcoma (Feline Injection Site Sarcoma - FISS) from his first kitten vaccination and unfortunately died on the operating table during the removal of the tumor. This type of reaction is extremely rare, especially in a kitten so young (11 weeks) and as aggressively as it grew. My veterinarian is aware of this and even has the lab results of the tumor in Truffle's file. Brulee received her first 3-year FVRCP vaccination two years ago and was one of the rare (1-10 of every 10,000 vaccines administered) cats who developed a severe reaction from it. She spent 3 1/2 days in the emergency animal hospital with a high fever and difficulty breathing. Our veterinarian has agreed that Brulee will no longer receive the FVRCP vaccination. 

Both girls will turn 10 years old this summer and are now considered senior cats. I will discuss the possibility of a titer test to determine their immunity at their next wellness visit in a couple of weeks, because Brulee does get severe respiratory infections and Truffle is also older. titer test is a simple blood test that measures a cat's antibodies to vaccine viruses (or other infectious agents).


AAFP Feline Vaccination Advisory Panel members, (2013). Vaccinations for Your Cat: Pet Owners Guide. CatVets.comhttps://catvets.com/public/PDFs/ClientBrochures/ClientHandoutVaccination.pdf.

Cornell Feline Health Center (January 2018). Feline Vaccines: Benefits and Risks. Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. https://www.vet.cornell.edu/departments-centers-and-institutes/cornell-feline-health-center/health-information/feline-health-topics/feline-vaccines-benefits-and-risks.

Day, M. J.; Horzinek, M.C.; Schultz, R.D.; Squires, R.A. (January 2016). Guidelines for the Vaccination Guidelines Group (VGG) of the World of Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA),  Journal of Small Animal Practice, Volume 57. https://wsava.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/WSAVA-Vaccination-Guidelines-2015.pdf

Mitchell, Sandra, DVM (June 27, 2019). What is the FVRCP Vaccine? PetMDhttps://www.petmd.com/cat/wellness/what-fvrcp-cat-vaccine.

Stewart, Tom (2016). Do Cats Need a FCRVP Vaccination? Animal Planethttp://www.animalplanet.com/pets/cats-fvrcp-vaccination/

Would you like to comment?

  1. It's so important for wellness visits and vaccinations. We always made sure our babies were cared for as you do your babies.

    Thank you for joining the Feline Friday Blog Hop.

    Have a purrfect Feline Friday and weekend. ♥

  2. Excellent post. I adopted Polar Bear off the street and he has Feline herpes.

  3. Great information and we really didn't know all of that stuff.

  4. Ugh, I'm due for all that this summer, along with my annual therapy cat wellness and behavior checkup. And my human is loathe to have me do this with the quarantine restrictions. I know I'll do okay if it's necessary (it's not until August, so we'll see), but we both would much rather have her with me.

  5. This is great information. Our vet doesn't like to vaccinate cats over 10 (Lexy) or cats with chronic respiratory issues (me.) Our mom is going to read all of this info again and discuss with her when we go back at the end of the year.

  6. One can purchase this vaccine from Tractor Supply stores. Makes veterinarians cringe, but it's less expensive but effective!

  7. This is great information. The titer test is a great way to approach vaccinations, especially in an animal that has shown a reaction of any form to vaccinations in the past. My pup has always had a rough time with vaccines (nothing life threatening, but she usually gets quite sick from them). When we moved and switched veterinarians, I made sure to find one that was open to the concept of titer testing so that we can avoid putting her through that unless necessary to maintain her antibody levels.

  8. Great info ! Hope both your beauties are doing well !

  9. Great post and I do not remember doing all these shots for my cats when I had them years ago so it amazes me how far science has come

  10. WE are vigilant about makibng sure our Lucy gets the care she needs! Take care and have a lovely weekend!

  11. Thank you for reminding us of the importance of bringing your cat or any pet to the vet for well visits. It is equally important that we understand what vaccines are necessary. Plus what dangers they may hold. This post was very helpful to understand what the FVRCP is.

  12. It's so important to make sure your furbabies are checked at least once a year. Great job making sure they are protected.

  13. It's hard to believe that Truffle and Brulee are already turning 9! Can you believe that Manna will be 14 next month? Whew! It is so important to do what you can to prevent diseases in your cats. Once a cat is sick with some of these, there isn't much anyone can do to help. Of course, like any medical treatment, vaccines need to be carefully planned for each kitty.

  14. Our cats get an annual checkup and you nail the reasons why this is vitally important. It's not just humans that need monitoring or care Cats Do Too!!

  15. This is the first I remember reading about the FVCRP vaccination and it sounds like it is something that could be critical for cats, even if they are mostly inside cats. Titering for Truffle seems like a great idea, and it probably is not worth the risk for Brulee since she had a bad reaction to it.

  16. What beautiful babies! Thanks for the thorough explanation of why even inside cats need these vaccinations.

  17. I still don't know how I feel about combination vaccines. In general, I prefer vaccines individually, with at least a month in between.


By leaving a comment you are consenting to your email being collected for communication purposes only.

Thank you for visiting us today!