Vaccinations for kittens should begin as early as age eight weeks and the core vaccines consist of a rabies vaccine and a single combined FVRCP vaccine shot which protects against FVR (Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis), FCV (Feline Calicivirus) and FPV (Feline Panleukopenia Virus – Feline Distemper). 

Your trusted veterinarian will advise the sequence of vaccinations that are required in a timely manner so kitty’s shots are all covered.

Below is a more detailed info of each virus that the vaccine covers and how detrimental it is to kitty if the shots are not given.

FVR (Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis)

Caused by Feline Herpesvirus Type-1

Can infect cats of all ages

Not contagious to humans

Major cause of upper respiratory and common cause of conjunctivitis (inflammation of the tissues surrounding the eye, especially the lining of the lids and the third eyelid)

Virus is spread through saliva and discharges from the eyes and nose of an infected cat

FCV (Feline Calicivirus)

Upper respiratory infection

Can affect cats of all ages

Not contagious to humans

Common symptoms with FVR so a more detailed test is usually done but if ulcerations are found in the mouth, usually FCV is diagnosed

Infected cats show signs of acute fever, conjunctivitis, nasal discharge, sneezing, ulceration of the mouth. Pneumonia may develop with secondary bacterial infections

FPV (Feline Panleukopenia Virus)

Also called Feline Distemper or Feline Parvovirus

Kittens mostly affected compared to adult cats

Not contagious to humans

Infects and kills cells that are rapidly growing and dividing, such as those in the bone marrow, intestines, and developing fetus

Unvaccinated cats, sick cats and kittens of 3-5 months of age are most susceptible to this virus and kittens of this age don’t usually survive

First visible signs a cat owner will notice is loss of appetite, severe diarrhoea, high fever, lethargy, nasal discharge, vomiting and dehydration

After reading the above, it is most important your kitten’s or cat’s vaccinations are up to date to avoid any issue and also, it is also the responsibility of being a pet parent.

There are other viruses listed below to take note of which you can ask your trusted veterinarian:

FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus)

Known as Feline Aids

Not contagious to humans

Infected cat transmits to another cat through a deep bite wound where the virus in the cat’s saliva enters the body tissue

Infected cats can live with other cats sharing water bowls, food bowls, and litter box. Very low chance of transmitting provided they don’t fight that leaves with a deep wound and knowing how territorial cats are, there’s bound to be a “nasty” fight at times which is why it is highly recommended when FIV+ cats are found especially during rescuing and put up for adoption, newly cat parents are sought after

FIV and FeLV (Feline Leukaemia) are sometimes mistaken for one another although the viruses differ in many ways. Genetically shape wise also different. Although many of the diseases caused by FeLV and FIV are similar, the ways in which they are caused actually differ. Also, while FeLV may cause symptomatic illness in an infected cat, an FIV infected cat can remain completely asymptomatic its entire lifetime.

FIP (Feline Infectious Peritonitis)

Caused by an infection with a virus known as feline coronavirus

Infect the upper respiratory tract or gastrointestinal tract

No relation to humans and not contagious

Clinical signs are fluctuating fever, lethargy, accumulation of fluid within the abdominal cavity or chest cavity resulting in breathing difficulties, inflammation of blood vessels (called Vasculitis) which results in fluid leaking from the blood into the abdomen or chest

FeLV (Feline Leukaemia)

This virus commonly causes anemia or lymphoma as it suppresses the immune system, it can predispose cats to deadly infections

Cats who encounter FeLV not necessarily go through the death sentence, instead, they are able to resist the infection or eliminate the virus on their own

Not contagious to humans or dogs as it only affects cats

Transmitted to one cat to another through saliva, grooming, blood and to some extent urine and faeces. Grooming and fighting are the most common way of infection

Outdoor cats have a higher chance of contracting FeLV compared to indoor cats

Symptoms are pale gums, yellow colour in the mouth and white of eyes, weight loss, loss of appetite, fever, diarrhoea, breathing difficulty, enlarged lymph nodes, stomatitis (oral disease that includes ulceration or gingiva)

Cats don’t actually have nine lives, so as a cat pet parent you need to do what you can to protect them. The key? The right vaccinations advised by your trusted veterinarian. Always remember that the shots protect your cat from diseases caused by viruses and bacteria. They can also strengthen their immune system.

Images courtesy of Mama Rose and her children Poppy, Yoda and Snowy.
Content courtesy of Pet Parent, Meem Siah.

Veterinary Nursing 2nd Edition – Edited by D.R. Lane & B. Cooper

This article is courtesy of Pets Corner Sdn Bhd. For more pet care tips, visit