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Feline Vaccine/Test Protocols

sedated seal-point himalayan cat, cream long poofy fur, mink brown face mask

Vaccines. What?

Vaccinations – Cats

“Honestly, I believe we give too many vaccines. If you never give a vaccine to your cat, I’d be supportive,” says Dr. Springer.

Panleukopenia (Distemper)

Panleukopenia (pronounced “pan-luke-oh-pee-knee-ah”) literally means all-white-none in blood.  Basically, this virus attacks rapidly dividing cells in the body, like the bone marrow cells that make your immune system’s white blood cells.

This deadly cat disease is called “kitty distemper” because the dog distemper vaccine terminology is well-known and it has been traditionally copied for the cats.  The feline paneukopenia virus is actually thought to have mutated from the dog parvovirus.  Both viruses attacking rapidly dividing cells in the body, including the bone marrow and the intestinal lining cells.

Hand-raised kittens should atrt their vaccines at 2-4 weeks old because they lack adequate immunity from mother’s milk.  Cat-raised kittens should start vaccines at 6-8 weeks old.

The kittens should continue receiving vaccines every3 to 4 weeks  until they are 15-16 weeks old.

Q: If my cat is always indoors, why does she need this vaccine?

A: Penlaukepenia is a fomite.  “What is a fomite,”  you ask.  A fomite is a disease which spreads through particles on your shoes or clothing.  You will bring kitty distemper nto the house with you when you come inside.  Even indoor only cats need full vaccination to protect from distemper.

Truli Quick Fact
In the 1970’s, before we knew about kitty distemper, 1,000’s of cats would be found dead in a city within a matter of weeks.  All killed rapidly by the virus spreading with almost 100% deadly effects.  People thought the cats were poisoned, but it was the panleukopenia virus.  Now, we have a vaccine that is nearly 100% effective at preventing this deadly disease.


Rhinotracheitis is caused by a herpes virus that causes respiratory disease in its initial phase. It can then become the cause of persistant eye irritation and corneal disease (cloudiness or blood vessel infiltration in the clear part of the eye). Due to the potentially chronic nature of this disease the vaccine is recommended for most cats.


Calicivirus causes respiratory disease with sneezing and conjunctivitis.  It can aslso linger and become a chronic infection in the body.  A chronic infection like kitty herpes virus, or calcivirus can re-appear during times of stress like moving, or if a family member moves in or out of the house, or if a cat experiences anesthesia.

Sometimes calicivirus causes cats to experience painful red, swollen gums in a disease called stomatitis.  There’s no cure and medications and regular dental cleanings can become expensive.  It’s better toprevent the virus in the first place.

All cats should be vaccinated against calicivirus yearly.  If a cat is elderly, sheltered, or challenged by any other health conditins, then the vaccine shold be reconsidered in that case.

Calicivirus Alert!

Calicivirus continues to mutate.  In recent years, new strains for which there is no vaccine have emerged.  Doc Truli personally knew of a hoarder’s house which had 70 dead and dying cats because a mutated strain of calici virus emerged in that household and killed nearly every cat.  The local municipality had to quarantine the house for fear of this virus – for which there was no vaccine – would kill hundreds or thousands of neighborhood cats.

When you come for your annual check-ups, we let you know if there are new viruses, disease trends, or new preventatives or nutritional information to make your cat as strong as possible.

Feline Leukemia

Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) requires direct contact with an infected cat in order to spread. Direct contact for this virus means hissing, licking, sharing water bowls, bite wounds, or sex.  The virus attacks the bone marrow and white blood cells in the body, hence the word “leuk” in the name, which means “white” in Latin.

The vaccine provides 75% protection.  It is started in a series of two vaccines, given at 12 and 16 weeks old.  An adult cat needs two boosters 3-4 weeks apart, then yearly.  The feline leukemia vaccine does not last longer than a year like some of the other kitty vaccines.

Feline Leukemia Fact

Cats over 1 year old are naturally 75% immune from feline leukemia virus.

The feline leukemia vaccine started the vaccine-associated sarcoma controversy in the early 1980’s.  After much research and controversy, it was discovered that the feline leukemia vaccine can cause cancer at the injection site in 1 out of 1,000 to 1 out of 10,000 cats.

Later, it was discovered the rabies vaccines which contained zinc flecks as the ingredient that helped the vaccine create a 3 year long immune response in the body (adjuvent) could also cause sarcoma.  These sarcomas are awful, nearly impossible to remove and cure, fast-growing, and painful.  We have since learned that it seems certain genetic pools of cats are more likely to get the cancers from the vaccines than others.

Because of the chances of a vaccine-induced sarcoma at the injection site, and because the virus does not travel on your shoes and clothing, the feline leukemia vaccine is only recommended for outdoor or lostly-outdoor cats.  Indoor cats who escape once or twice a year for 2-4 hours should not risk the sarcoma in an attempt to prevent leukemia.

Feline Infectious Peritonitis

This vaccine decreases illness, but does not prevent it.  It needs three boosters a year to be effective.  The disease depends on genetic predisposition to an abnormal reaction against a common corona (cold) virus.  This vaccine is not given by Dr. Springer ever.


We have not seen outbreaks of kitty chlamydia in Pinellas county.  We rarely, if ever, administer this vaccine.

Feline Vaccine/Test Protocols


1st FVRCP at 6-8 weeks old
2nd FVRCP at 9-11 weeks old
3rd FVRCP at 12-14 weeks old
4th FVRCP at 15-17 weeks old
Rabies at 12 weeks of age or older (1st shot is good for 1 year then 3 years after that)
1ST FELV at 12 weeks or older
2nd FELV at 3 weeks after 1st, then yearly

If kitten starts later than9-11 weeks f age than they will get a series of 2 FVRCP shots 3 weeks apart and Rabies at 12 weeks of age or older.

Cats of unknown vaccination history could receive the following:

These cats will get a series of 2 FVRCP vaccinations 3 weeks apart.
Rabies vaccine (1 year shot the first time, then 3 year shot thereafter.)
Felv/FIV test (all cats never tested before, of unknown status, or if cat has been in any fights a month ago or later)

FVRCP “Kitty Distemper” Vaccine Protocol Varies by Lifestyle

FVRCP vaccinations every year or every 3 years, depending on risks and benefits to your cat:

  • Indoor cat: every 3 years after initial kitten or cat series
  • Indoor/outdoor cat (supervised 100%): every 3 years
  • Indoor/outdoor cat (not supervised): yearly
  • Outdoor cat: yearly
  • Cats in a household with several other cats, if owner plans on adopting another cat, if owner takes care of strays outside, if some cats in house go outside: yearly

If you have a cat on a 3-year FVRCP schedule and any of the situations above change then your cat should come in for a FVRCP booster and go on a yearly schedule for FVRCP.  If your cat starts going outside, you need to call us for shots!

Did you know?

If your cat busts out of the house and is gone for a few hours and gets exposed to feline leukemia virus, it may take 30-60 days for the vrus to turn up positive on a blood test.  Get your cat tested right away, and 60-90 days later to be sure.

Feline Leukemia and FIV blood testing: Who to test and When?

  • Any new cat introduced to a household of Felv and/or FIV negative cats
  • Any cat with unknown Felv and FIV status
  • Sick cats
  • Prior to starting Felv vaccinations
  • At risk cats should be tested yearly (outdoor cats that fight)
  • All cats that go outside should be tested for fecals yearly. If a cat has been in a catfight then they should be tested for FELV/FIV in 1 month and again in 3 months after exposure.

Truli Holistic Veterinary Services

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Read more about Truli Holistic Dog Vaccine Protocols.

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