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Does my cat really need an FVRCP vaccination?Does my cat really need an FVRCP vaccination?

The FVRCP vaccination is an important part of your cat's routine. It prevents three potentially deadly airborne viruses: rhinotracheitis, calicivirus and panleukopenia.

Rhinotracheitis is triggered by the common feline herpes virus. Symptoms include sneezing, a runny nose and drooling. Your cat's eyes may become crusted with mucous, and he or she may sleep much more and eat much less than normal. If left untreated this disease causes dehydration, starvation, and eventually, death.

Calicivirus has similar symptoms, affecting the respiratory system and also causing ulcers in the mouth. It can result in pneumonia if left untreated—kittens and senior cats are especially vulnerable.

Panleukopenia is also known as distemper and is easily spread from one cat to another. Distemper is so common that nearly all cats—regardless of breed or living conditions—will be exposed to it in their lifetime. It’s especially common in kittens who have not yet been vaccinated against it, and symptoms include fever, vomiting and bloody diarrhea. This disease progresses rapidly and requires immediate medical attention. Without intervention, a cat can die within 12 hours of contracting the disease.

These three viruses can be contracted by cats at any age. Kittens should receive their first FVRCP vaccination at 6 to 8 weeks of age, followed by three booster shots once a month. Adult cats should receive a booster once every year or two, according to your vet's recommendation. Adult cats with unknown vaccination records should receive a FVRCP vaccination, plus a booster. Because FVRCP is a live vaccine, it should not be given to pregnant cats.

Rarely, a cat may contract a disease from the vaccine or experience a side effect, such as fever or vomiting. These instances are an exception, and for the vast majority of cats FVRCP will not only protect against rhinotracheitis, calicivirus and panleukopenia, but may also help fight off other viruses as well.

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