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Feline Panleukopenia Virus in Cats (Feline Distemper)

5 min read



Affected cats will require immediate treatment, and often hospitalization. The first major goal of treatment is to restore body fluid levels and electrolyte balance. Specific treatment will depend on the severity of your cat’s illness, but it is likely to include in-hospital care for several days in an isolation room to prevent spreading it to other animals.


Good supportive care can mean the difference between life and death. Once your cat is home from the hospital, you will need to isolate her from other cats until all the symptoms have resolved and your veterinarian gives the okay. This could take up to 6 weeks.


This infection has a particularly depressing effect on a cat's physical and mental health, and your cat will need affection and comfort during the recovery time. Needless to say, you will need to practice strict hygiene, and keeping in mind that this infection can remain on surfaces, make sure to stay especially clean after coming into contact with your sick cat, so that you are not unintentionally spreading the virus to other cats.


If your cat is treated promptly and effectively, she may recover fully. It may take a few weeks for your cat to feel completely back to normal. Unfortunately, mortality is as high as 90 percent for panleukopenia.


Living and Management


Follow your veterinarian's guidelines as far as dispensing medication, household disinfection and the necessity for quarantine. If you have other cats, you will need to observe them closely for signs of illness. Consult with your veterinarian regarding the possibility of vaccinating other cats in the home.


Everything that your cat touched should be deep-cleaned. Anything that can be machine washed and dried should be, and anything that is dishwasher-safe should be machine washed. This includes bedding, toys, dishes and litter boxes.


Again, keep in mind that even then, you may not be able to remove all traces of the virus. While your cat will not be susceptible to reinfection after it has recovered, other visiting cats can still be infected by contaminants that have been left behind.


Vaccination is the most important tool in the prevention of panleukopenia. Before you bring a new kitten into your home, find out whether it has been vaccinated. Luckily, the vaccine is so effective that just one dose prevents most infections. Be on the lookout for any signs of illness, especially in young kittens, and have your veterinarian examine your pet as soon as possible if you notice anything of concern.