Feline Panleukopenia Virus (FPV)
FPV infection results in the disease known as Feline Panleukopenia (FP) among cats and kittens. Like many other viral diseases, FP has no cure, is rapidly fatal and is highly contagious.
Young kittens, sick cats, and unvaccinated animals are the most vulnerable to FP. This disease is most commonly seen in 3 to 5-month-old kittens, with death being more common at this age.
FPV can be found everywhere in the environment, so nearly all cats and kittens become exposed to the virus at some point in their lives. FPV is resistant to many cleaning agents and can persist in an environment for about a year.
Signs and Symptoms of FP
FP symptoms are very generic, which can make confirming the disease tricky. Cats or kittens with FP may show any or all of the following:
- appetite loss
A veterinarian will consider the age of the cat as well as its vaccine status. If you have an unvaccinated cat under a year of age showing any of these signs, FP will be suspected.
Unfortunately, no cure for FP currently exists. Treatment of FP involves keeping the cat alive using supportive care. Supportive care allows the cat’s immune system to fight off the infection and recover. Typically, this means the cat will need to be hospitalized for intravenous (IV) fluid therapy to prevent dehydration. Additionally, the cat will have to receive antibiotic medication through IV to help fight off bacteria that infect the intestines.
While hospitalized, the sick cat will need monitoring of blood sugar plus pain control. Other supportive care a hospitalized cats will receive include medications for controlling pain and nausea. Experienced veterinarians suggest cats with FP have little chance of survival without hospitalization.
One caveat is that even with aggressive treatment, a cat may still not survive FP. Fortunately, FP is easily prevented by means of vaccination.
As mentioned, a vaccine is available to prevent your cat or kitten from falling victim to FP. This same vaccine will also protect against common respiratory viruses (Rhinotracheitis and Calicivirus) so that your feline family member will have less risk of developing other diseases.
Kittens are typically given a series of vaccines at 8, 12, and 16 weeks of age.
After the initial kitten vaccines, adult cats get booster shots once per year to maintain their protection.
Written by: Seneca Animal Hospital
- Brooks, Wendy. “Distemper (Panleukopenia) in Cats.” Veterinary Partner. 25 May 2018. Retrieved from: https://veterinarypartner.vin.com/default.aspx?pid=19239&id=4952250
- “Feline Panleukopenia.” American Veterinary Medical Association, 2019, Retrieved from www.avma.org/public/PetCare/Pages/feline-panleukopenia.aspx.
- Squires, Richard A. “Feline Panleukopenia.” Merck Veterinary Manual. Retrieved from: www.merckvetmanual.com/cat-owners/disorders-affecting-multiple-body-systems-of-cats/feline- panleukopenia?query=panleukopenia%2Bvirus%2Binfection.