Feline distemper is one of the worst diseases your pet can catch. Especially young cats are affected, so make sure your kittens are vaccinated. Distemper in cats is highly contagious and often fatal.
When people speak about distemper in felines they usually mean an illness called feline infectious enteritis (FIE). This is also known as feline panleukopaenia (FPL). Let’s keep it simple: in this article we call it feline distemper.
The illness is caused by a virus. It is spread by direct contact. Kittens are vulnerable and live together until they go to a new owner. That makes it very easy to catch viral diseases. Distemper in kittens is a nightmare if you just have a new litter.
IT CAN TAKE UP TO TEN DAYS BEFORE THE FIRST FELINE DISTEMPER SYMPTOMS DEVELOP.
Typical signs are: loss of appetite, depression, fever, vomiting and diarrhea. This is followed by dehydration, pain and – in many cases – death.
There are cases known of kittens that died from distemper even before symptoms were developed.
The best way to prevent this feline disease is vaccination.
A FIRST DISTEMPER VACCINE CAN BE GIVEN WHEN YOUR KITTEN IS EIGHT WEEKS OLD.
A second dose may be necessary a few weeks later. Many veterinarians recommend annual vaccination.
If your cat is pregnant, tell the vet before she is vaccinated. She should receive only dead distemper vaccine.
Despite the number of vaccinations, feline distemper is still common throughout the world.
So what should you do if you suspect distemper in your cat?
- Isolate it to prevent spreading of the virus.
- Give it fluids to fight dehydration. This is best done by the vet.
- Medication. There are several possibilities: a vaccine virus, antibiotics against secondary infections, a serum to provide antibodies. Again, your vet should know what is best.
BE ALERT: ADULT CATS CAN GET FELINE DISTEMPER TOO.
Older cats may have some degree of immunity to the disease. But this is no guarantee. So do not stop vaccination.
Adult cats have a better chance to recover from feline distemper than kittens. Unfortunately they may be prone to diarrhea for the rest of their life.