Feline Distemper Complex Vaccinations

Feline distemper virus is a contagious infection that's transmitted to cat's though direct contact with contaminated sources. Since the virus is capable of existing in the surroundings for years, pets are susceptible to the disease and can succumb to it if not treated promptly. Apart from feline distemper, there are several other viruses that infect cats and kittens. Vaccines are usually administered at a very young age in order to protect pet's from life-threatening viruses. Vaccines are categorized as core vaccines and non-core vaccines. The core vaccines are those that should be administered to all pets. Non-core vaccines may be administered to cat's at risk of acquiring certain diseases.

Vaccinations Essential for Felines

  • Feline Panleukopenia
  • Feline Rhinotracheitis
  • Feline Calcivirus
  • Rabies

Infectious Diseases

Feline rhinotracheitis and feline calcivirus are contagious viruses that cause upper respiratory diseases and are hence termed as feline infectious respiratory disease complex. Kittens have the highest risk of contracting these diseases and pet's that are cured, become carriers of the virus for several years. In addition to these respiratory viruses, the feline distemper virus causes severe gastrointestinal disorders, permanent body damage and death. A vaccine known as FVRCP or feline distemper complex vaccine is administered to pet's to protect them from 3 serious viruses.

FVRCP Vaccine

The FVRCP vaccine is administered as early as 6 weeks of age. The vaccine is administered as a series of 4 shots at 3 week intervals. The cat will then be given a booster injection once a year as a preventive agent. It protects pets from feline distemper virus, feline calcivirus and feline rhinotracheitis. Pet owners should also vaccinate all newly acquired kittens in time and prevent unvaccinated pets from coming in contact with sick cats.

Effectiveness of Vaccines

The vaccines that are commonly used contain a killed virus or a modified live virus that stimulates the pet's immune system to produce antibodies that kill the virus. The vaccines are available in either injection or intranasal form. Although most booster shots are administered annually, many boosters are now administered after every three years. Modified live vaccines (MLV) are best for use in pets with strong immune systems and no underlying health concerns. Killed vaccines are safer for use on cats but aren't as effective as MLV. Pets that receive killed vaccines are also more susceptible to vaccine associated sarcoma. The vaccines for feline panleukopenia, feline calcivirus and feline rhinotracheitis should be administered at the specific vaccination site which includes the intranasal site or the right fore region.


  • Vaccines should be administered after careful evaluation of the pet's current health status and risk of exposure to viruses. Pets housed at boarding facilities or catteries are at high risk of contracting contagious disease and require repeated vaccinations.
  • In order to prevent vaccine associated sarcoma, the vaccine should be administered according to the guidelines of the AAFP (American Association of Feline Practitioners).
  • It's best to avoid vaccinating pets that are currently prescribed corticosteroid drugs as corticosteroids lower immune system functioning.
  • It's also important to avoid vaccinating pregnant cats to prevent any risks.

In addition to vaccinations, pet owners should keep the surroundings clean and disinfect food or water bowls and pet bedding. Children should also be taught appropriate hygiene after play with cats and kittens.