Your Cat’s Vaccinations

The feline vaccines for viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus and panleukopenia are usually administered in a combination called FVRCP. This vaccine, used to immunize kittens, can also serve as a booster for adults. The vaccinations for feline pneumonitis, rabies and feline leukemia are given separately but also need to be included in the kitten series and then repeated as boosters.

Feline viral rhinotracheitis (FVR)

A highly contagious viral respiratory disease, FVR may cause fever, depression, sneezing, coughing, and loss of appetite. Vaccines are available in both injectable and intranasal forms.

Feline calicivirus

Another viral respiratory disease, this one not only may cause the same symptoms as FVR but also may produce painful ulcers in the cat’s eyes, mouth and throat. Vaccination may be given either by injection or by the intranasal route.

Feline panleukopenia

This highly contagious and often viral disease of cats is particularly deadly to kittens. Also called feline distemper or feline infectious enteritis, it usually causes fever, vomiting and diarrhea, resulting in severe dehydration. The virus also attacks the cat’s bone marrow and depletes immunity. Vaccination results in rapid and effective protection.

Feline pneumonitis

Some veterinarians also vaccinate for pneumonitis, another respiratory disease of cats. The vaccine may be given separately or in combination with the other feline vaccines.


There are approximately 200 feline rabies cases per year in the United States. The Calgary Humane Society saw two cases in the late 1980’s. Kittens should be vaccinated at three to four months of age and then one year later followed by annual boosters or every three years depending on the vaccine.

Feline leukemia

This virus can result in a variety of problems besides leukemia. Affected cats may develop anemia, solid tumour and impaired immunity. Cats with lowered immunity often develop other chronic ailments such as respiratory diseases and mouth infections.