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C2004-16

Dear Christopher Cat

My veterinarian vaccinates my cats annually, but my friend’s vet vaccinates her cats every three years. Is a three-year vaccine available?

Christopher Responds

If your cats live indoors and are not exposed to other cats, they need the rabies vaccine and the FVRCP vaccine.

Rabies is boosted one year after the initial vaccination. Thereafter, a three-year vaccine may be given.

The FVRCP vaccine protects against Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (caused by feline herpesvirus-1), Calicivirus and Panleukopenia. These common, contagious viruses cause problems ranging from upper respiratory infection to vomiting and diarrhea to death.

Until recently, the FVRCP vaccine was given annually, and the package inserts that accompany these vaccines still recommend annual administration.

Mom has always vaccinated us annually, but my sister Claire, who doesn’t like needles, is hoping she will reconsider in view of a study published recently in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

The study reports that in most cats, antibodies to all three viruses persist up to – and sometimes beyond – four years. Similar findings were reported a few years ago.

So some veterinarians administer the FVRCP vaccine to previously vaccinated adult cats every three years, following the recommendations of the American Association of Feline Practitioners and the Academy of Feline Medicine Advisory Panel on Feline Vaccines.

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