Feline Distemper: Causes, Symptoms, Treatments

Feline Distemper

Feline distemper, also known as feline panlekopenia (FPV), is an infectious disease that affects cats.

It is an intestinal tract disease that destroys your cat’s GI tract, which results in bacteria entering your cat’s bloodstream and can lead to death, if left untreated. There is currently no cure.

This cat health problem should be taken very seriously, as it is highly contagious and requires immediate treatment.


Feline distemper commonly affects cats in the warmer months of the year. Direct contact is not needed in order to spread the disease. This illness can be transmitted if your cat uses a contaminated item, such as bedding and furniture that an infected cat has used. It can even be transmitted through fleas and other insects. To find out more about effective flea treatments read Cat Flea Treatment: How To Get Rid Of Those Pesky Fleas.

Kittens are much more susceptible to this type of infection due to their weaker immune systems. There have even been cases where female cats have transmitted the disease to their kittens.


Symptoms of feline distemper include high fever, loss of appetite, dehydration, vomiting and diarrhea. Your cat may also appear to be in pain or weak, and may remain in a hunched over position. Your cat may also experience feline depression, which may result in a reduction of their appetite and as a result weight loss. In some cases an appearance of the third eyelid may appear. If you notice any of the above symptoms take your cat to the veterinarian.

In situations where this disease is the result of a fatality, it is usually because of a combination of reasons: dehydration, septicaemia and PH imbalance.

Symptoms usually appear within 10 days of infection. Some of the symptoms of this illness are the same as other cat illnesses, which is why receiving a diagnosis from your veterinarian is so vital.


Feline distemper is diagnosed by your cat's veterinarian through a series of blood tests and a review of your cat’s medical history, including his or her vaccinations.

Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for feline distemper, but antibiotics and fluids can be administered to your cat to help with recovery. Although It is possible for an infected cat to survive this disease, keep in mind that your cat may still be considered contagious for about four months, even if he or she seems recovered.

It is essential to ensure that any other cats in your home avoid contact with an infected cat and that all items that were used are washed and disinfected, this included, bedding, cat accessories, litter box and furniture, to minimize a potential outbreak in the home.

It's important to know that this illness is resistant to many household disinfecting chemicals, so ask your vet what he or she recommends in disinfecting your household, but that is still cat friendly. It is also recommended to take any other cats in the household to the vets for a check up once it's been confirmed that an infected cat is in the household. It is also possible for the infection to remain in your cat’s living area for up to a year.

For cats that have not been affected by this disease, prevention is key. Vaccinations typically begin at 6 to 8 weeks and are administered again at 12 and 16 weeks. Your cat should receive an annual booster shot to maintain their immunity to feline distemper.

Kittens are extremely susceptible until they have received both the first and second part of the shot. It's best to keep your kitten out of boarding and reduce, even eliminate interactions with unfamiliar cats until they have received the full vaccine. When bringing new cats home, isolate them first, and take them to the vet for a check-up as soon as possible to ensure they are healthy

Feline distemper can be a frightening illness, especially since it can result in death very soon after infection, although not curable, it is treatable.

If you suspect that your cat is ill or is showing any of the above symptoms of feline distemper, the best advice we can offer you is to bring your cat to a veterinarian right away.

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