The facts about feline panleukopenia


What was once the leading cause of death in cats has come under control through effective vaccines. Some vets don't vaccinate for panleukopenia any more because there hasn't been a reported case in their area for years. But that is not the case every where, even though the vaccines are effective, not every cat gets vaccinated and the potential for spreading this deadly disease is still a problem. It is very common amongst outdoor cats, strays and feral cat colonies.

Feline panleukopenia (sometimes called feline infectious enteritis or feline distemper or feline ataxia) is a highly infectious disease that can infect your cat even without close contact with a diseased cat. The virus stays alive and active in the blood, stool, or even the fleas from infected cats. But the biggest threat is the virus can be transmitted to your cats from bedding, cages, clothing or even if the cats dig in the same soil as an infected cat.


Feline panleukopenia attacks rapidly dividing cells, such as in bone marrow, intestines and in a developing fetus. The bone marrow is responsible for red and white blood cell production - lack of red blood cells causes anemia and lack of white blood cells compromises the cat's immune system. A lack of cells in the intestinal walls will mean the cat's digestion system is weakened and they will not be able to eat or drink properly. Often they will vomit or have a bloody stool. If the cat is pregnant and survives, the kittens will likely develop Cerebellar Hypoplasia. An infected cat will become anemic and the immune system will be weakened. This means that the cat will become infected with other illnesses so the symptoms of feline panleukopenia are hard to identify.

If you see any of the following symptoms in your cat, get him to a vet as soon as possible. Often cats can hide their illnesses so by the time you notice anything is wrong, it could be too late to save your cat. But watch for these signs:

fever, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, nasal discharge, dehydration

When a cat comes in contact with the virus that causes feline panleukopenia the result is usually death. Preventing the infection is far more effective than treating an infected cat so get your cats vaccinated against feline panleukopenia.

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