Bubba is a young male cat that shares his home with two other cats. They are all indoor only and had been quite healthy until Bubba suddenly became lethargic and stopped eating. About 24 hours later he was drooling, sneezing and had excessive tearing of his eyes. When he came to see me he had 104 degree fever and ulcers on his tongue. He had to be hospitalized for 36 hours with intravenous fluids, pain control, and antibiotics until he started eating on his own again. It took 2 weeks for him to fully recover.
This condition is caused by the calici virus and can be prevented in the majority of cats with the FVRCP vaccine. No vaccine is 100% effective but it will at least reduce the severity of the symptoms should they occur.
So the question remains “why do I need to vaccinate my cats if they never go outside or have contact with other cats?” The upper respiratory viruses (feline rhinotracheitis virus, calici, panleukopenia) are all highly contagious and can be spread without direct contact. You can pet an infected cat (even before they are showing clinical signs) and bring the virushome to your own cats on your hands and clothing. It’s the same as us getting the common cold or flu from being in public areas and then passing it around to everyone in our homes.
After the initial series of vaccines it only needs to be given every three years. The risk of getting the vaccine is far outweighed by the risk of contracting the virus leading to secondary complications and very expensive vet visits. Don’t let your kitty end up like Bubba, please call Cat Hospital of Portland to schedule an appointment and stay up to date on the FVRCP vaccine!