Feline Panleukopenia virus (FPV), also known as feline distemper, is a highly contagious virus that is debilitating and life-threatening in cats. It usually affects the cells of the intestines. If the unvaccinated cat lives through the ordeal, it will have a lifetime immunity to it, but many cats do not survive. It is vital to have your cat(s) vaccinated for it as soon as possible. It is worse in kittens, and pregnant and nursing feline mothers, because their immune systems are already frail.
According to the web site Pet 360, the symptoms are many and varied: vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, weight loss, high fever, loss of interest in food, to name a few.
It is always important to wash your hands in between handling different cats, but it is essential for keeping the spread of distemper at bay. It is highly contagious and the virus can last up to a year on surfaces. The virus is immune to disinfectants. Pet 360 recommends that if your cat does come down with distemper and survives it, you should throw away all of its toys, dishes, and bedding and start over. Additionally, don’t re-use these items with a newly adopted cat.
I have a story to tell that has a happy ending. One day my two cats, Nubie and Bunny, started having bouts of diarrhea. I felt bad for them, especially because they tried so hard to get to the litter box in time (they were successful). This was the only symptom I knew of for distemper and panicked that they had somehow contracted it. It was irrational, I know, because I thought they had been vaccinated for it years ago, but who knows? I rushed one cat to the vet and told him my diagnosis. He didn’t agree and asked if I had bought any cat food on sale recently. “Why, yes, I had,” said I. He then told me never, ever buy cat food that is on sale because it is old and the store is trying to get rid of it. Sometimes, the food in the can gets rancid with age and that is why both of my cats had diarrhea. Not sure I was convinced, I went home and threw out all the old cat food and put out newly purchased food. Problem solved. The drama was over. The cats were fine.
It is important to study up on cat diseases so you can jump into action if they get sick. Mostly, though, it all boils down to if your cat is acting differently than usual, you should take note. We can’t all aspire to be veterinarians, but we can be knowledgeable about what might afflict our pets like a human mother knows about childhood illnesses.
Our furry babies depend on us just as much. Do you have a story about when your cat started acting strange?
(Thanks to the Pet 360 web site for providing this information.)