Feline Panleukopenia (Cat Distemper)


Feline Panleukopenia is a serious infectious disease. It is relatively common in unvaccinated cats and is often fatal, especially for young kittens. The feline Panleukopenia virus, also known as FPV, is easily spread by contact with a diseased animal or its secretions. Panleukopenia is often referred to as feline distemper because it produces symptoms similar to those displayed in dogs with distemper. These two diseases are different, however, and are not caused by the same virus. Who's at Risk? Any cat or kitten that has not been vaccinated against feline Panleukopenia is at risk. This is a hardy virus that can lurk in carpets and upholstery for years.

Cats can be infected by litter boxes, food bowls and even toys and clothes. Therefore, introducing an unvaccinated cat to a surroundings previously inhabited by a sick cat, puts her at great risk. Kittens are especially susceptible to feline distemper because their immune systems are often underdeveloped and cannot fight off the infection. In fact, kittens can be infected in utero or during birth. Mortality rates for this form of neonatal Panleukopenia are extremely high. Survivors of the infection may suffer cerebella damage.


Symptoms of feline distemper usually show up within a week and a half of exposure to the virus. Sick cats often run a high fever, accompanied by apathy and loss of appetite. Vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain may also be present.


If you suspect that your cat may have feline Panleukopenia, get it to the vet immediately. Early detection and treatment is crucial for the cat's survival and recovery. Your vet will probably perform a blood test and begin immediate treatment.