DELAYED, prolonged vaccine reaction

Elvisrocks

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Hello everyone, I cannot tell you how grateful I am to have found this post! My 7 y/o neutered cat, Jack, was vaccinated on Feb 1 for both distemper and rabies. All good until a week later when my normally food obsessed cat lost his appetite and started sleeping in the same spot round the clock. He would get up briefly to use the litter box and eat/drink. I noticed he was very stiff and his feet seemed extremely sensitive and he didn't want them to touch the floor. Not sure if links work here but I am including a little clip I took of him trying to sit down. Because my normal vet was backed up for appointments I took him to a different vet and they did a senior blood panel, urinalysis, and fecal test. All show he should be in perfect health but he obviously isn't. He also lost nearly 1/4 lb. in the two weeks since having the shots. He is a big cat but at a healthy weight. The vet was stumped but suggested trying pain meds for a week to see if it was an arthritis issue. So far the pain meds have not made a difference.

I have been scouring the internet for anyone whose cat has had these symptoms and here all of your cats experienced nearly the exact same thing. It has given me so much hope that he could recover! While his appetite hasn't been great it is has improved a little in the last day and he seems a bit perkier (but not by much yet). Thankfully he has been drinking a lot so he seems well hydrated. I contacted my normal vet via email tonight and I am hopeful they will believe me and consider submitting this to the vaccine manufacturer.

I am taking it day by day but his small improvements are very encouraging. There has been no other change to diet or environment that would have caused any issue. My main fear was something with his kidneys but the testing has ruled that out. The only thing that was different were the darn vaccines! My second cat had a reaction to the distemper vaccine several years ago and barely moved for 24 hours but that was immediately after the vaccine and she looked really sick so I just didn't put it together when Jack started showing these strange symptoms. He has seemed in good spirits and doesn't look sick, just tired. Thank you again for all your stories. I am hopeful Jack will make a full recovery and am anxious to hear what my vet will say. I also want it documented so that I can have a medical reason for not vaccinating my cat in the future.
Oh poor baby! I wish you the best of luck. I was one of the previous contributors to this thread. My cat had a terrible time. I figured it out myself that it was the vaccines and found a vet that didn't dismiss the delayed vaccine theory. No more vaccines for my kitty!! Hang in there!
 

Lunalessy

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Hey all, glad to have found this thread. I think my 13 yr old "Grandpa" is going through this right now. 4 days after vaccine, wasn't quite right (low energy) and by day 6 wouldn't drink water at all, had a really poor appetite, lethargic and was limping. He received both rabies and the 4 in 1. I know the manufacturer says 7 days post vaccine, but I wondered if the double vac made things happen faster.
He's a HCM kitty so it's too risky to give fluid or steroids because of the risk to his heart. Vet recommended we give pain meds so He took Buprenorphine on day 11, and was almost 100% on day 12. Took him of the Buprenorphine, and on day 13, he's again lethargic and appetite is not as good. I hope my guy makes it through. I asked both the vet and kitty cardiologist if the vaccines would be ok and they said it would be fine, but I wish I had asked more about the risks. I wish we hadn't vaccinated, or had just done one at a time. 😢
 

Elvisrocks

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Hey all, glad to have found this thread. I think my 13 yr old "Grandpa" is going through this right now. 4 days after vaccine, wasn't quite right (low energy) and by day 6 wouldn't drink water at all, had a really poor appetite, lethargic and was limping. He received both rabies and the 4 in 1. I know the manufacturer says 7 days post vaccine, but I wondered if the double vac made things happen faster.
He's a HCM kitty so it's too risky to give fluid or steroids because of the risk to his heart. Vet recommended we give pain meds so He took Buprenorphine on day 11, and was almost 100% on day 12. Took him of the Buprenorphine, and on day 13, he's again lethargic and appetite is not as good. I hope my guy makes it through. I asked both the vet and kitty cardiologist if the vaccines would be ok and they said it would be fine, but I wish I had asked more about the risks. I wish we hadn't vaccinated, or had just done one at a time. 😢
Is he on mirataz for his appetite? If not you should ask your vet. It comes in a cream you put on their ear every day. It helped my kitty with eating when she was going through this with vaccine reactions. It took about a month for.her to get back to normal so sometimes it can take awhile so hang in there. What about gabapentin for pain? Can he have that with his condition?
 
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jstie

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Is he on mirataz for his appetite? If not you should ask your vet. It comes in a cream you put on their ear every day. It helped my kitty with eating when she was going through this with vaccine reactions. It took about a month for.her to get back to normal so sometimes it can take awhile so hang in there. What about gabapentin for pain? Can he have that with his condition?
Hey all, glad to have found this thread. I think my 13 yr old "Grandpa" is going through this right now. 4 days after vaccine, wasn't quite right (low energy) and by day 6 wouldn't drink water at all, had a really poor appetite, lethargic and was limping. He received both rabies and the 4 in 1. I know the manufacturer says 7 days post vaccine, but I wondered if the double vac made things happen faster.
He's a HCM kitty so it's too risky to give fluid or steroids because of the risk to his heart. Vet recommended we give pain meds so He took Buprenorphine on day 11, and was almost 100% on day 12. Took him of the Buprenorphine, and on day 13, he's again lethargic and appetite is not as good. I hope my guy makes it through. I asked both the vet and kitty cardiologist if the vaccines would be ok and they said it would be fine, but I wish I had asked more about the risks. I wish we hadn't vaccinated, or had just done one at a time. 😢
Hi - I am the original poster who started this thread, and I am so glad I did. It's been eye-opening for me to see how many cats seem to have this experience, and if our story helped anyone, I am grateful. It does sound like your "Grandpa" is having the same kind of problem. I, too, "stacked" the vaccines - gave Pawnee both the FVRCP and the rabies at the same time, and that may well have precipitated the reaction. Because she was young at the time and otherwise healthy, we could use the steroids to help tamp down her immune reaction - but other than that, we did fluids (both subcu and IV), buprenorphine, and appetite stimulants (mirtazepine / Mirataz) to keep her eating. She ran a significant fever throughout, and when the fever came down, it was a dramatic difference - she ate like a horse, moved around more comfortably. With your guy's HCM, and steroids and maybe fluids not safe to do much of, it may be harder. Maybe you could give small amounts of fluids subcutaneously at home? It might make him feel better, under your vet's direction. It's mostly just long, diligent nursing / supportive care. It took Pawnee about a month to recover, but she did - and of course, we never vaccinated her again. She then fought off a 6-month battle with histoplasmosis, and finally died of kidney failure at about 13 - her illnesses surely shortened her life, poor girl. We did everything we could for her, but I do think the immune reaction may have left her with immune system dysfunction that made her more vulnerable to the fungus. My vet believes that the Zoetis Felocel 4 vaccine may have adjuvants in it that are riskier, and so she uses all adjuvant-free vaccines - and has never seen this happen with them. Keep us posted on how he does. Good luck! - Julie and Angel Pawnee, Best Cat Ever
 

Lunalessy

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Thanks Elvisrocks Elvisrocks and jstie jstie for your replies! Grandpa ate his full breakfast today and had some water, so I am going to stay clear of mirtazepine unless he starts to become anorexic again. I do have a tube at home that they vet gave me so I can try it if needed, but I am so scared to put more medicine into this equation; I'm afraid of another 1% reaction! He still is not anywhere as energetic as he used to be, but can get up on the bed, sofa, and dresser, his favorite places, so I hope things are getting better. It sounds like we'll go through some up and down cycles though! I'll keep up the updates just in case someone with a HCM cat comes along and finds this thread.
 

Lunalessy

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Just to close the loop on Grandpa's story - he's been better for 3 days now. I ended up doing one dose of mirtazepine on day 23 post vaccine, and he ate more, and ever since that day he's steadily gotten better. He really did start improving on his 12th day after having the initial symptoms (anorexia, lethargic, limping, and fever), so I do really think it was the vaccine. He's mostly himself now; with a few altered habits (he will jump on furniture, but hasn't jumped on to the highest furniture he did before the shots). Amazingly, no limping now. Thanks for everyone's help and good wishes!
 

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Thank you so much, this post calmed my nerves. My cat Pepper, who looks like your Pawnee (also P names!!) he is 5 years old roughly (probably by now) I do not know his birthday because he was a start who entered my life at the most unexpected time. I took him to the vet to be a good mom and get him a check-up, I took Pepper in on August 19th 2019 and he hadn't been to the vet since he joined that family,neutered, shots, etc. I took him on April 19th 2021 everything was great! pepper is very smart, playful, loves to chase his string around the apartment, loves sitting at the window enjoying the fresh air: He has not been doing any of this the past 4 days. The first couple of days I thought the weather was making him so sleepy, being so cloudy and gray. Now the past two days I have been growing a little worried. He is just super lethargic and tonight I noticed a limp by his back right leg. He got these shots two weeks ago and so this story has given me hope, so many similarities between our cats! I hope you are still active on this account.
Pepper Coffee table.jpeg
 

Karla_R

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Aw guys, my kitty is also going through a similar thing... and I live in Zanzibar, where access to vets is really difficult! We live in a very remote area and the nearest vet is about 2 hours drive via really bumpy roads and they don't even work weekends, so I'm frantically trying to find some help online.. We recently adopted two kittens, they came to our house, completely separately within just a few days apart and extremely bonded, so we decided to keep them both. We already have two cats and two dogs, so last week we called the vet to check up on all six of them.
The vet service here is very basic, but they all got de-wormed, one of the cats got neutered (yes... it was on a garden table just outside of our house, this is the kind of service provided here) and the new kitties got checked and the vet suggested they get rabies vaccine as this is a standard here. So we didn't think much and got them vaccinated, wanted them to be safe - that was on Wednesday.
The male ginger kitty seems perfectly fine after the vaccine, but the white calico started acting strange on Thursday evening. She would normally be very active, miaowing, playful, likes to go outside, she uses the cat litter box, very clean. On Thursday evening she became very lethargic, wouldn't play at all, was lying down all the time and would rather hide, she didn't each much either, just a little bit.
We thought she maybe ate something and felt unwell, but on Friday it was even worse - she would just sleep all day, she would eat a bit, she would move a little bit but would have to lie down after a few steps, she seemed like she wasn't fit enough to walk much. She lied on her bed, then she'd get up, pee in it, and lie down on it again...as if she didn't have the strength to move to the box. She ate a bit of plain chicken, but then she wasn't even interested. Not much changed today and it's already Saturday evening and the vet doesn't respond nor pick up his phone. I am really worried by now and I really hope she will recover or at least hang on until we can get her to the vet on Monday. Is there anything I can do to help her meanwhile?
 

fionasmom

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You only gave her the rabies vaccine? That is probably a good choice to have made if there is any danger of rabies in Zanzibar, so don't beat yourself up for having done that. Rabies is a one way street....once it is contracted, that is it. It seems to me that the reaction to the vaccine, if it is that, is very strong which is concerning. Yes, cats and dogs can have very adverse affects to vaccines, but most do not. I have an very elderly, sick dog with a compromised immune system and I am still required to give him the rabies vaccine. His vet told me that is is one of the safest ones to give.

What Are the Side Effects of Rabies Vaccines in Cats?
Fortunately, reactions to vaccines are very uncommon in cats. In fact, side effects of rabies vaccines in cats are very rare. When they do happen, they include slight fever, lethargy, decreased appetite and a localized swelling at the vaccine site.

These rabies vaccine side effects usually disappear within a few days.

In extremely rare cases, cats may develop an allergic reaction to the vaccine, which includes hives, swelling of the face and itchiness.

Severe reaction can include weakness and collapse. Keep in mind that these reactions are extremely rare; allergic reactions occur in fewer than 10 cats out of each 10,000 cats vaccinated. (from PetMD)

Your cat was dewormed, neutered, and given the vaccine on Wednesday and this is now mid day Saturday. If you have not seen improvement, even if it is all a reaction to the procedures done, I would continue to try to get to the vet. He has to eat and remain hydrated and you may need support for that. Do you have anything like electrolyte water that you can give her in the meantime? She sounds as if this is getting worse and not better.
 
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jstie

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Hi - I am so sorry you are having this happen with such limited veterinary care. In our case, we did pretty lengthy supportive care: fluids, steroids, pain meds, and an appetite stimulant. Hydration is super important, especially with fever, so if you can syringe-feed (carefully) liquids (broth from plain boiled chicken or evem just water), that would help. And keep trying the vet - I would think they'd be able to provide at least a basic steroid med to tamp down the inflammation. It is not difficult to give fluids subcutaneously, so if your vet can give you the proper fluids, a line and some needles, and show you how to do it yourself, that would be enormously helpful. Try to keep him eating by any means possible, and hope for the best. It took our Pawnee weeks to recover, but she did and it was mostly the nursing care that just kept her going until her system settled down. Wishing you all possible luck in getting through this.
 

rebeccah

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Hi - I think I'm experiencing the same thing with one of my cats (Goose - 4 years old). He got his rabies and FVRCP vaccine on Oct 2 (saturday). He was fine for about 10 days, but on Oct 11 (Monday) I started noticing he was acting a bit lethargic. I thought maybe he was just tired, but the next day he was even more lethargic and I felt like something was wrong. He was still eating a little, but not nearly as much as usual. I brought him to the vet on Wednesday morning (Oct 13) and he had a 106 fever. His blood panel all came back fine, urinalysis and urine culture was normal, and his exam was "unremarkable". My vet said right away she thought it could be a delayed vaccine reaction (I had no idea this was a thing!). He was hospitalized for 3 days while they got his temp down using fluids and anti-inflammatories, and I was able to bring him home that Saturday (Oct 16). He had 1 good day of acting pretty normal before going back to being lethargic again and was limping a little but wasn't crying out and was still jumping up on the bed.

I brought him back on Wednesday, Oct 20 after he started acting a bit off again, his temp was in the 103 range, which she said wasn't uncommon for a stressed animal at the vet (especially since he was still recovering from the stress of being there for 3 days. The vet had asked to see him a week after he was allowed back home to recheck his blood panel and make sure nothing else had been brewing, so he went back this past Saturday (Oct 23). Temp again was in the 103 range and she said she wasn't worried. The goal was to keep him off the anti-inflammatories for about a week and get him started on steroids this Friday, since we think the likeliest cause is the vaccine reaction.

Last night, I noticed he hadn't been leaving the bedroom at all. When I fed him, I'd pick him up and put him in front of his bowl and he ate a ton, but I was still worried so I brought him to the emergency vet. He had a 104 fever so they gave him some sub-q fluids and showed me how to take his temp through his armpit so I could monitor him overnight. When we got home he seemed to have more energy - he was alert, purring, didn't seem to be limping, stretching out instead of just curling up. His temp was pretty normal all night (especially knowing that an armpit temp isn't the most accurate - but we used it to help show any trends in case he spiked again). Took him to see his regular vet this morning to have her look him over and his temp again was around 103, again she wasn't concerned. She's going to talk to one of the surgeons when they're in tomorrow about potentially doing a joint tap, to see if that might be why he's limping a little, but the goal is to get him on steroids in the next few days.

This has been such a stressful, exhausting ordeal. This message board has been helpful because there's so little information online about this type of thing! I'm really thankful my vet's first thought was the vaccine reaction, since it seems like a lot of other vets don't think it's a real thing. We're now at 23 days post-vaccine and on day 15 of symptoms, so I'm hoping we're coming close to figuring this all out.

Does anyone have any tips to share about how to get through it? Or any tips for picking up on high fevers besides just the general "lethargy"? One vet told me to look out for his ear tips and paws being bright pink/red, but I'd love more signs if there are any (I'm actually going crazy with all of this - poor Goose must think I'm losing my mind). It seems like most people here have had their cat come through okay, so I'm holding that close as we go through this. It sucks seeing him feel so bad and not being able to help him! I just wish he could tell me how he was feeling so I could try to comfort him a bit better.
 
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jstie

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I'm the original poster on this. So sorry to hear about yet another cat with this problem; it's scary and exhausting. It took our Pawnee just about a month to really recover. Just as with Goose, her state would get better, then worse, back and forth. Several days at the vet's getting IV fluids at intervals, fever would go up and down. When the temp would go up, she wouldn't eat, hobbled and limped; when the temp would go down, she'd eat like crazy, move around and look so much better. My vet gave a low dose of steroid (to tamp down the roaring immune response), an appetite stimulant (mirtazepine) to keep her eating, and an analgesic (buprenorphine) so she wasn't all achey. It just took a long time and supportive care till she got better. This is a *known* reaction to the Felocell 4 vaccine (about 1% of cats, most often kittens); also more common in cats who have had the rabies and the FVRCP on the same day. My vet also thinks it might be related not so much to the vaccine itself as the adjuvant ingredients, and she uses only non-adjuvanted vaccines... but I had been dumb and got the vaccines done at a different vet (long story). Luckily my regular vet suspected a vaccine reaction immediately, and treated accordingly. Good luck with your Gosling ;-) - keep us posted! Hopefully you're over the worst and he'll start improving more and more!
 

rebeccah

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I'm the original poster on this. So sorry to hear about yet another cat with this problem; it's scary and exhausting. It took our Pawnee just about a month to really recover. Just as with Goose, her state would get better, then worse, back and forth. Several days at the vet's getting IV fluids at intervals, fever would go up and down. When the temp would go up, she wouldn't eat, hobbled and limped; when the temp would go down, she'd eat like crazy, move around and look so much better. My vet gave a low dose of steroid (to tamp down the roaring immune response), an appetite stimulant (mirtazepine) to keep her eating, and an analgesic (buprenorphine) so she wasn't all achey. It just took a long time and supportive care till she got better. This is a *known* reaction to the Felocell 4 vaccine (about 1% of cats, most often kittens); also more common in cats who have had the rabies and the FVRCP on the same day. My vet also thinks it might be related not so much to the vaccine itself as the adjuvant ingredients, and she uses only non-adjuvanted vaccines... but I had been dumb and got the vaccines done at a different vet (long story). Luckily my regular vet suspected a vaccine reaction immediately, and treated accordingly. Good luck with your Gosling ;-) - keep us posted! Hopefully you're over the worst and he'll start improving more and more!
Thank you for the quick reply! I've read your posts over and over because they honestly make me feel better knowing you went through this and Pawnee was okay! I have the Mirtazepine for Goose if he needs it, but the ER vet last night told me it could cause a little flare in a fever, so I'm trying not to use it as much. I had asked about some pain medication for the aching/limping, but they had recommended gabapentin, which would make him even more tired, which I didn't want.

I feel so awful because when I brought him for his vaccines the vet told me we didn't have to do the FVRCP one (I live in a city so he's completely indoors and has no interaction with any cats besides his brother), but I told her to do it anyway because I thought it would be better for him. I regret it so much because I probably could have avoided all this, but it's such a rare reaction that we obviously didn't know it was going to happen (especially because he had gotten it once before). He'll no longer get any vaccines moving forward, so we just have to get him through this without any major issues.

Again, really appreciate this whole thread - it's given me so much information and signs to look for while going through this, and with so little information online about these reactions, it's given me a lot of peace of mind that Goose can be going through this and will come out of it okay.
 

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Sorry you and Goose are going through this. Hopefully he'll start improving soon. If it were me I'd keep him home now unless there's an emergency. So much stress going to the vets, he might just need some down time at home, feeling safe to recover. What about Vitamin B drops to add to his wet food? That might help a bit too. Good luck and hope he bounces back soon!
 

rebeccah

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Thank you for the good wishes for Goose! I'm definitely trying to keep him home as much as possible, I'm just so traumatized by the 106 fever that I'm scared to let it get that high again! Now that I can at least keep track of his temp trending at home, I think I'll be less likely to freak out. It's so hard when they can't tell you what's wrong!

Thank you for the vitamin b recommendation - I'll ask his vet when I hear from her on the joint tap next steps (hoping we don't have to do the joint tap....just one more procedure to freak him out).
 

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That sounds ridiculously stressful! I'm glad your vet at least has a clue. I just wish more vets knew about it so they wouldn't give these two shots together. It makes me mad. Thinking good thoughts for Goose. :redheartpump:
 

fionasmom

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You could not have seen this coming unless you had known of this happening to someone before. My cat vet will only give two vaccines at a time. Very firm on that even if the owner has to make multiple trips back to the clinic; however, you only gave two. He had not reacted before when he was given vaccines. Please don't feel as if you did this to Goose.

I am careful about cat vaccines as my cats are indoor only as well. Years ago I had a cat who had a big reaction to Leukocell and it really scared me. She lived to be over 17 though, and had the vaccine when she was about 2....so she apparently survived.
 

FosterFurEver

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Two is too many, IMO. My cat got sick from 2. I totally agree about not causing it, and that there is no way to know until you run into it. Took me a while to even find this thread.
 
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