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Cat Distemper

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Cat Distemper (Feline Panleukopenia)

Feline Panleukopenia, often referred to as feline Panleuk, is a highly contagious virus of the parvovirus group which mainly targets kittens. It is most prevalent but not limited to areas with high populations of unvaccinated cats. It can survive at room temperature for years and withstand low temperatures too. Because of this, all cats are exposed to it during their first year of life. The Feline Panleukopenia Virus (FPV) attacks rapidly growing cells such as those in the bone marrow responsible for making white blood cells, digestive system, nervous system and lymph tissue.


Feline Panleukopenia is transmitted through contact with infected feces or urine. It is also passed from a mother to her unborn kittens in the uterus. Humans handling infected kittens can pass FPV to uninfected ones through hands, shoes and clothing. Sharing water and food bowls, litter pans and bedding are also leading modes of transmission. Fleas also spread the disease to other cats especially during their active stage.

Signs and Symptoms

Early symptoms of FPV are similar to other diseases and call for thorough examination by a veterinary officer. They include Cat Diarrhea, Cat Vomiting, lack of appetite, disinterest in water, depression, abdominal pain, appearance of haw in the inner corner of the eyes and a hunched over appearance. The coat looks dull and rough. The cat may become dehydrated due to diarrhea causing its body temperature to drop to very low levels. It may also develop a bacterial infection. Young, unvaccinated kittens are the most susceptible to the virus and hardly survive. Older cats usually survive, especially if they were exposed to the virus at an earlier age.

Pregnant cats that get infected may suffer stillbirths or abort, while kittens born of infected mothers may have nervous disorders.


A combination of symptoms, medical history, physical examination and laboratory tests are used to diagnose Panleukopenia. A physical exam will reveal Cat Fever, Cat Depression, Cat Dehydration, thickened intestines and enlarged lymph nodes.

Although not exclusive to Panleukopenia, lab tests will reveal a low count in the white blood cells. In some cases, there will be a reduction in the number of platelets. The virus is also found in the infected cat’s feces.

Treatment of FPV

Treatment seeks to alleviate symptoms such as vomiting and Cat Diarrhea. Sick cats are given fluids either intravenously or subcutaneously to curb dehydration. Medicine to stop vomiting is also provided. Antibiotics are given to prevent the cat from developing secondary bacterial infections. Severely sick cats may require a blood transfusion. As the cat slowly recovers, doses of vitamin B may be given. It is advisable to introduce food in small portions and frequently throughout the day. This should help to restore the cat’s immune system.

Prevention and Control

The most effective way of preventing Feline Panleukopenia is through vaccination. There are two basic types of vaccines – killed virus vaccines and modified live vaccines. Modified live vaccines work faster and are more effective. Killed virus vaccines are ideal for pregnant cats and kittens under 4 weeks.

Disinfect surfaces and dishes using a dilution of household bleach to keep the cats’ environment free of the virus. A ration of 1:32 is ideal.

Suggested Products Plantaeris for Cat Diarrhea

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