Feline Distemper (FVRCP)
This disease, also known as panleukopenia, is caused by a virus that spreads easily in groups of unvaccinated cats, affecting young kittens most severely. The virus can enter the body by being inhaled or swallowed, or it may enter through flea bites. It then attacks the intestine, causing vomiting and diarrhea. It can also enter the bone marrow, causing decreased numbers of white blood cells in the blood stream and as a result decreasing the cat’s ability to fight infection. This disease can progress rapidly to shock and death. The feline distemper vaccine is very effective in preventing this disease. Like the canine distemper vaccine, the feline distemper vaccine is a combination vaccine and includes vaccines against Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis and Calicivirus.
Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis and Calicivirus
These viruses cause diseases of the upper respiratory system of cats. FVR causes sneezing, runny eyes and nose and may cause pneumonia and death in kittens. Calicivirus causes ulcerations in the mouth and nose. Both of these viruses may cause chronic, recurring disease.
Feline Leukemia (FELV)
This viral disease can present with many different signs including runny eyes and nose, difficulty breathing, weight loss, lack of appetite and depression. Though often fatal, cats may be infected for long periods of time without showing signs of illness. The virus may be detected easily using a readily available blood test. Though vaccinations provide good protection against FELV, they are not 100% effective at this time. FELV positive cats should not be housed with healthy cats, even if they have been vaccinated against FELV. Because FELV affects a cat’s immune system, FELV positive cats often develop opportunistic infections to which healthy cats are resistant. It should be noted that an FELV-positive cat may not be protected against other infectious diseases, including rabies, by vaccinations.