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The Core vaccines are recommended for all cats.
FVRCP protects against three common, severe to debilitating diseases of cats:
Feline Herpes (Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis) and Feline Calicivirus: these viruses are spread easily between cats – they are highly contagious, and can be spread via ocular, nasal, and oral secretions and discharges. Environmental contamination is also a huge problem – cats shed the virus into the environment, and it persists on water bowls, litter boxes… trees, your clothing… Some cats carry these viruses and shed them without becoming ill or after recovering from illness. The viruses cause upper respiratory signs such as bouts of sneezing, runny nose, and runny eyes, as well as lethargy, fever, depression, loss of appetite, ulcers in the mouth or on the eyes, and drooling.
Panleukopenia (Feline Distemper): caused by the feline Parvovirus, which is so resistant that it can survive up to one year in the environment. It can be carried by all felids and raccons and their relatives. This is a highly contagious and often fatal virus. Spread is via infected feces, secretions, or fomites (like shoes, clothing, bedding, bowls…) Treatment is very difficult, and if infected cats recover they can continue to spread the virus. Signs of disease include sudden death in a seemingly healthy cat; fever, depression and anorexia; vomiting (unrelated to eating) and diarrhea.
The Rabies vaccine is considered a core vaccine for both dogs and cats. Rabies is almost always fatal, and is easily transmitted to humans.
The Non Core vaccines are recommended depending upon lifestyle and risk factors.
Feline Leukemia (FeLV): this virus is second only to trauma as the leading cause of death in cats, and is especially dangerous to young cats. Up to 85% of persistently infected cats die within 3 years. It can cause anemia and cancer (lymphoma, leukemia) in infected cats, and contributes to other infectious diseases by suppressing the immune system and infecting the bone marrow. Transmission is mainly via mutual grooming and fight wounds (salivary transfer), however urine and feces can also serve to transmit the virus. Infected cats can also share the virus via nose-to-nose contact, and through shared food and water bowls and litterboxes. Kittens can contract the disease in utero or through the milk of an infected mother. Apparently healthy cats can spread the disease. Signs of feline leukemia include weight loss, fever, infections, anemia, immune-mediated problems, reproductive problems, gastrointestinal problems, neurologic disease, blood disorders, lymphadenopathy, cancer, respiratory problems, eye or oral disease.
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV): in the same virus family as FeLV, FIV is spread mainly through bite wounds; free-roaming male cats are the most frequently infected. Sexual transmission is possible, but uncommon due to the scarcity of unneutered cats. Mother cats can spread it to their kittens during passage through the birth canal and via infected milk. Infected cats may appear normal for years, and may never become ill, but still spread the disease. Signs of disease include recurrent minor illnesses such as upper respiratory infections, gastrointestinal disease, diseases of the eye, bacterial or fungal ear and skin infections, oral disease, kidney disease, and cancer. All cats should be tested for FIV (and FeLV) and have a microchip implanted prior to vaccination. After being vaccinated against FIV, cats test positive for the disease, so it is vitally important to know their FIV status before vaccinating. Microchipping is also important – if a cat is brought into an animal shelter and tests positive for FIV, it will be euthanized unless it has a registered microchip.