Symptoms of distemper in cats


Disease feline distemper It is also known as feline panleukopenia and feline infectious enteritis. We speak of a particularly serious disease, because there is a very high risk of mortality among individuals who suffer from it, hence the importance of vaccination, especially in puppies and in those cats that present risk factors.

In this Animal Expert article we will talk in detail about distemper in cats, the usual forms of infection, the most common symptoms and the treatment that the specialist in the veterinary clinic will suggest. Fortunately, the number of cats with distemper has decreased considerably in recent years thanks to the prevention and development of Cat distemper vaccine, which has proved very effective.

The distemper disease in cats

Feline panleukopenia is a contagious viral disease of a serious nature that especially affects puppies or young cats and which, in most cases, is fatal. The term "panleukopenia" refers to an abnormally low level of white blood cells in the blood.

The causative agent of feline infectious enteritis is a DNA virus of the genus of Parvoviruses (of the Family Parvoviridae) that requires cells with great mitotic activity to replicate. It grows at a great speed, in the kidney cells of the cat, which causes intranuclear inclusions in them.

We talk about a virus especially tough and stable, it can survive more than a year indoors at room temperature. It also resists freezing and treatment with various types of disinfectants, including ether, chloroform, alcohol, phenol, trypsin, iodinated organic diluents and quaternary ammonium compounds. However, it can be destroyed in one minute at 100 ° C.

exist 2 forms of infection of feline panleukopenia:

  1. Systemic infection: It replicates during the first 18-24 hours and from the seventh day it spreads throughout the body. It can affect various tissues, such as lymphoid tissue, intestinal tract or bone marrow. It damages vital areas for organic defense, which makes it susceptible for individuals suffering from it to also experience a secondary bacterial infection.
  2. Uterine and nervous system infection: when it occurs during the first third of pregnancy it can cause early fetal deaths, resorption and birth of dead animals. When it occurs in the second or third third of pregnancy it can cause hydrocephalus, cerebellar hypoplasia and lesions in the retina and optic nerve.

Contagion of the distemper in cats

Feline panleukopenia develops mainly in domestic cats, although there are other animals susceptible to it. While it can affect cats of all ages, young cats are the most vulnerable, especially from three months old, at which time they stop receiving the necessary antibodies provided by the mother's colostrum when breastfeeding.

Feline infectious enteritis virus is present in all secretions of sick animals, including saliva, feces, vomiting and urine, especially during the early stages of the disease. It can also be located in the blood of the infected animal.

The routes of infection of feline distemper They are:

  1. Direct contact between sick cats and susceptible cats.
  2. Contaminating material in food, beds, cage, clothes.
  3. Transmission by vectors, such as fleas and ticks.

In addition, the recovered cats they can transport the virus into their tissues for months, becoming subclinical carriers, while eliminating the remains of the virus in feces and urine for up to 6 months. Cats infected from birth may contain the feline distemper virus in the kidneys for more than a year.

Risk factors of feline panleukopenia

Especially vulnerable are those felines that live in shelters or shelters, where the transit of animals is very high. So are those cats that live in homes with various pets and those that have outside access and can come into contact with infected felines.

Is distemper in cats spread to dogs?

Although the terms used are similar, canine distemper and feline distemper are not caused by the same virus. Therefore, the distemper virus in cats dogs are not spread. In addition, the human being is not spread either. However, the fact that feline infectious enteritis is the virus from which the canine parvovirus developed is still being discussed. It also has a great similarity with the mink enteritis virus.

Symptoms of distemper in cats

There are several symptoms that may indicate that something is wrong, so we will review the most common feline panleukopenia symptoms. However, remember that these symptoms may also occur in other of the most common diseases of cats.

The distemper symptoms in cats They are:

  • Fever: the cat may experience a fever between 40 ° C and 41 ° C for 24 hours. It usually descends and goes back up.
  • Depression: We can see that the cat is apathetic, sad or discouraged.
  • Vomiting: At the beginning we will observe that the vomiting contains traces of food but, as the disease progresses, they will become foamy, white-yellowish vomiting.
  • Diarrhea: appears after exceeding the feverish period, two to four days later. We will observe liquid stools of black color, the result of digested blood. At this time the disease is in an advanced stage.
  • Dehydration and weight loss: caused mainly by vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Anorexy: the cat rejects any type of food.

We can also observe that the cat, as a result of pain and fever, adopts certain postures to be better, thus placing the abdomen on a fresh surface. Likewise, it is very likely to resist abdominal palpation, show the yellow gums (jaundice) and bloody diarrhea.

The presentation of one or more of the symptoms described are a reason for consultation, therefore, if you have noticed that your cat shows any of these signs, do not hesitate to go to the vet. Next we will talk about veterinary tests that can confirm the presence of feline panleukopenia virus.

Diagnosis of distemper in cats

In the veterinary clinic the specialist will perform the necessary tests to confirm the presence of the feline distemper virus. In addition to asking about the symptomatology of the animal, it will look at its appearance. It is likely that after symptom described the cat shows traces of stool and vomit in the mantle. Pale mucous membranes, sunken eyes, extreme dehydration, depression and even nasal secretion may also be observed.

To confirm that the cat suffers from feline panleukopenia, the most common is to perform a hematological analysis that helps measure red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. You may also request a biochemical analysis to assess normal serum protein levels, glucose levels or increases in ALT and AST enzymes. The least used diagnostic method for distemper in cats is serology.

Sometimes the ELISA test (common in the diagnosis of canine parvovirus) to confirm feline infectious enteritis. However, it should be taken into account that it is not specifically manufactured to diagnose feline distemper and that a false positive may occur after 5-12 days of cat vaccination.

Treatment of distemper in cats

We should know that there is no specific treatment to treat distemper in cats. The treatment focuses on alleviating the symptoms that the cat experiences and helping to expel the distemper virus. Usually the cat hospitalization infected, where the administration of intravenous fluids and supportive care is performed. It may also be necessary to use antibiotics to treat possible secondary bacterial infections.

Thus, there is no solution for distemper in cats that is direct and effective, but a series of intensive care is required to help the feline overcome the disease successfully.

Prognosis of feline panleukopenia

The prognosis can only be offered by a veterinarian And it is generally reserved. However, it is estimated that when an animal is able to survive more than five days the infection recovers. Even so, the convalescence of the feline can last several weeks and even months.

Mortality in adult cats older than 5 years is around 50 - 60% while in cats under 6 months it is around 90%. As we can see, it is a disease with a high mortality rate.

Home remedies for distemper in cats

Once the veterinary discharge is received, we can take the cat home, however, we must continue to offer certain care, with the aim of Improve your quality of life. Since there is no home treatment for distemper in cats, we will mention some natural remedies that can help you at this delicate time:

  • Slow down the fever: We can apply cold compresses on the belly of the animal or, directly, wrap it with a damp towel that is very well drained. We will leave it one or two minutes maximum. It will also be important to encourage him to drink to keep him hydrated, which in turn will help lower the fever.
  • Avoid dehydration: We will encourage you to drink, although not large amounts of blow. It may be interesting to buy a drink enriched with electrocytes (sold in pharmacies). If the cat refuses to drink we can use a syringe without a tip to slowly administer the drink in his mouth.
  • Control vomiting: after vomiting we will remove the food, at least, for 12 hours. Then we will offer you a soft diet, preferably veterinary prescription wet food.
  • Stimulate appetite: to stimulate the intake we can heat the food slightly, mix it with water or broth (without salt, onion or garlic) and spread small portions gently on your teeth to eat it. We can also try other foods that are more palatable, such as boiled meat and fish, always with caution to remove the bones or bones.
  • Improve your mood: We must dedicate it so that your mood improves and thus increases your well-being, which will directly influence a better recovery. We can caress him, massage his body gently or talk to him, in short, spend time with him.

Before applying any of the mentioned remedies we recommend consulting with the veterinarian to ensure that they do not affect in any way the treatment prescribed by the specialist.

How to prevent distemper in cats?

Prevention is key to preventing our feline from catching feline panleukopenia virus. The puppies cats who have not received the colostrum from the mother will not be protected, so it is advisable to isolate them from the outside and take extreme hygiene measures until the time to start the calendar of vaccines of the cat.

The first dose of the vaccine is inoculated at two months of age and then three reminders are made, although we must emphasize that vaccination can vary by country. From then on it should be vaccinate the cat annually to ensure that your body has the necessary antibodies.

Deworming the cat is another important prevention method when fighting feline distemper, as certain external parasites can act as disease vectors and transmit it to our cats. We will consult with the veterinarian to prescribe the most appropriate products.

Finally we want to offer you five basic tips What you should follow if you have a cat that is recovering from a feline panleukopenia box:

  1. Avoid introducing a second cat in the home for at least one year.
  2. Offer quality food that is easily assimilated.
  3. Leave fresh and clean water within reach. Do not forget to renew it regularly.
  4. Regularly clean the home and offer a comfortable and pleasant environment.
  5. Make sure you receive all the love and support you need at this time.

Would you add any more advice? Do you still have any doubts? If you are also going through this situation, do not hesitate to leave your comment and share your experience.

Is distemper in cats contagious to humans?

This virus is very contagious among cats, however, It is not transmitted to people or other animals, so we should not worry about suffering from FPV. We can manipulate our cat and offer the best care with the peace of mind that we are not going to get infected.

This article is purely informative, at we have no power to prescribe veterinary treatments or make any kind of diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian in case he presents any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to The distemper in cats - Contagion, symptoms and treatment, we recommend that you enter our Viral Diseases section.

What is the distemper?

The distemper in cats is also known as Feline Panleucopenia, this is a disease transmitted by a virus found in the environment, so all cats have been exposed to this virusHowever, not everyone develops the disease, this will depend on whether or not they were vaccinated, even the state of their immune system can make the difference between being sick or not.

The distemper virus may enter the animal if it has maintained contact with blood, feces or nasal secretions from another infected cat, once inside the cat's organism, this virus start killing cells They divide rapidly like those of the intestine.

Symptoms of distemper in cats.

The reason why distemper symptoms in cats, presented in their initial stage, are usually ignored, it is because they tend to be confused with those of other diseases, such as poisoning or transient infection.

It is important to bear in mind that in the event of any strange behavior in our pet, the ideal is go to the vet Immediately, we should not wait for the symptoms to get worse in order to take action on the matter.

We must say that the first symptoms of distemper in cats may have the following signs.

watch out for behavioral changes

We can observe that the feces of our pet are loose or very frequent, we can even notice traces of blood on them. Diarrhea in cats can lead to dehydration, which could put the animal's life at risk.

A symptom of distemper in our pet is that throw up food digested next to the bile, in the same way as diarrhea, it is possible that these come with a trace of blood, so you have to be vigilant. Vomiting leads to dehydration, what is advised is to act in time before the life of the animal is compromised.


Seizures in cats can last up to five minutes, and can be identified by sudden mood swings, which are usually frequent, seizures and the noticeable loss of bodily functions. We can notice how the pupils dilate and the frequency in their breathing is altered, the severity of the seizures may vary, depending on the severity of the disease.

What is distemper in cats?

Panleukopenia is a disease that is transmitted by a virus that may be in the environment. This means that all cats are exposed to him. However, whether or not they are infected with the disease will depend exclusively on whether they have been vaccinated.

It will also have a lot to do with the animal's immune system, since if it is weak, microorganisms can enter and develop more easily in the body.

The distemper virus enters the animal through contact with fluids, nasal secretions, blood or feces of a sick cat. Once inside your body, it will attack the cells and will not allow them to divide and develop.

Panleukopenia affects both the nervous and digestive system and, sometimes, the bone marrow, so it severely compromises the animal's health. In severe cases and without treatment causes death.

What are the symptoms of distemper in cats?

One of the problems of this disease is that Initial symptoms may be confused with other pathologies or conditions., such as an infection or food poisoning.

During the first days after the virus is spread, the cat may suffer from lack of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, runny nose, apathy and reluctance. Also, since you will not want to drink water, you are likely to show signs of dehydration.

It is necessary to pay close attention to how your pet acts and, in the slightest doubt, take it to the veterinarian. If the virus continues to progress, the animal may manifest seizures or changes in its behavior, such as biting on different parts of the body (like the tail).

Is there treatment for distemper in cats?

As a first step, we must indicate that distemper in cats is prevented in a very simple way: with vaccination. It will not matter if the animal goes out, or if it has contact with other pets, because it is essential that it be inoculated against the virus.

Panleukopenia is more common in cats younger than five months, that is, when they have not yet been vaccinated. Those whose mother does not have antibodies to the virus are at greater risk of infection, felines born in the street or in a pet shelter are also more vulnerable.

It is important to know that So far there is no treatment that completely eliminates the virus once it has been installed. Veterinary care will basically be responsible for alleviating the symptoms, preventing the animal from becoming dehydrated and reducing damage at the nervous level.

People say that Once the cat has exceeded the first five days since the virus manifests, it is more likely to survive. But you should always be especially careful so that you do not have ‘relapses’.

The distemper will always be present in the animal's body, but it will depend on the care of its owners and doctor that the virus is weaker and the symptoms are milder.

You should keep in mind that Panleukopenia is only contagious among felines (domestic and wild), so there is no risk of family members or other pets, such as dogs.

But If you have more than one cat at home and one of them has been diagnosed with distemper, the first thing you should do is vaccinate others. Then we recommend that you isolate the sick animal for a few days. In this way, the risk of contagion with the rest will be lower.

As they say, The best remedy in these cases is prevention. As soon as a kitten comes home you should take it to the vet to give you the necessary vaccinations. This simple act can mean the salvation of your pet.

Causes of the cold in cats

When people catch a cold, it is usually due to a rhinovirus. Cats are not generally susceptible to the same viruses that affect humans, but they are affected by other viruses that produce almost identical symptoms. Most colds in cats are caused by a virus, either by feline calicivirus or by feline herpesvirus. The symptoms of the disease usually appear at any time from a few days to two weeks after the initial exposure.

Other possible causes may be a worm infection or allergic reaction.

Common cold symptoms in cats

If you want to know if your cat has a cold, stay alert to the following symptoms:

  • Sneezing. Sneezing is an involuntary reflex designed to expel foreign bodies and other invaders from the nasal system. It is usually the first and most important cold symptoms that you will notice in your cat.
  • Runny nose. A med> The following symptoms indicate that the infection has worsened beyond a common cold:

    • Cough. The cough usually indicates that the infection has spread to the lungs and is causing mucus production in them. This could indicate that the cat can get pneumonia.
    • Fatigue breathing. This goes beyond the typical respiratory distress associated with blocked nasal passages. A cat with fatigued breathing will seem much weaker, and you can see how the chest swells and decreases with greater effort. This generally means that there is an accumulation of liquid> First, and most importantly, you should never give your cat any medicine to relieve the cold formulated for humans, unless your veterinarian recommends a specific medication and provides you with adequate dosage information. In the same way, never administer medication for dogs to your cat. Any of these medications can cause serious illness or even death, so consult your veterinarian directly if you notice that your feline friend needs medication to relieve his symptoms.

      Med> The main treatment for cold symptoms in cats is to provide relief measures to help your cat feel better while his immune system is focused on fighting the virus. These measures include:

        Use a hum> Although there is no way to completely prevent your cat from catching a cold, you can help him boost his immune system so that he is better able to fight the virus once it has been exposed.

        Providing good nutrition is key to keeping the immune system in optimal condition. Always feed your cat with com>

      Loss of appetite

      When a cat is sick it is very likely that he refuses to eat for a few days, which causes get undressed and lose muscle mass quickly, it is there when we notice that our cat is very thin and they are also energy and with a noticeable deterioration.

      if in doubt visit the vet

      It is possible that the animal presents a fever between 40 ° C and 41 ° CWhat is a clear symptom of distemper in cats, fever usually goes down quickly before the death of the animal, so it is vital to pay attention to the appearance of symptoms.

      Bite yourself.

      In some cats the distemper causes them to wish bite themselvesIn many cases they can cause self-inflicted wounds, which can become infected if not treated in time. Both fever and seizures and biting themselves are symptoms of the terminal phase of the disease.

      What is the distemper?

      The distemper, known as feline panleukopenia, it is a disease transmitted by a virus that is in the environment, so all cats have been exposed at some point in their lives. However, not everyone will develop the disease: depending on whether they have been vaccinated or not, and even the ability of the immune system of each of them can be the difference between ending up sick or not.

      The virus can enter the animal's organism if it has had contact with blood, feces or nasal secretions from another sick cat. Once inside, attack and kill rapidly dividing cells, such as those in the intestine.

      What are the symptoms and their treatment?

      The most common symptoms are as follows:

      • Lack of appetite
      • Vomiting
      • Dehydration
      • Nasal secretions
      • Apathy
      • Fever
      • Acute or bloody diarrhea
      • Seizures

      If your cat has several of these symptoms, you must take it quickly to the vetto treat you with antibiotics in order to relieve you, because there is no specific treatment against distemper. But also, it will be very important that you give a lot of love to your cat, as this will give strength to your furry to fight the disease.

      Treatments and prevention.

      If your cat has vomiting and diarrhea that has already exceeded 24 hours, it is very important that the animal be taken immediately to the veterinary center, the distemper It is not a virus that disappears on its ownOn the contrary this is able to kill your pet quickly.

      The distemper is very common in puppies cats under 5 months, in the elderly, cats without the required vaccination and in the cats that are in shelters or shelters. There is no treatment To attack the distemper, however, symptomatic treatments focused on the relief or reduction of symptoms, as well as moisturizing the animal, can help in its recovery.

      A feline that has exceeded the first five days has a high probability of survival, so it is vital that before the onset of symptoms let's go to the vet, we cannot put the health of our pet at risk.

      We can prevent distemper if we keep the vaccination schedule of our pet a day, if there is an infected cat, we must quarantine it until the disease has been controlled efficiently.


      Many may not consider it important, but simply taking our cat or dog to the vet at least twice a year, not only saves us an amount considerable in medical treatments, but it helps us keep our partner in a good state of health and in optimal conditions, although your pet does not like the idea of ​​visiting the doctor, I assure you that this simple fact will be making him the best of the goods .

      Remember that pets are part of our family, we must take care of them and love them, respect them and above all have them under a lot of responsibility, since they depend on us for many things, responsible ownership is extremely important. Adopt don't buy!

      I hope you liked this article, I invite you to leave your comment and / or suggestion below and we will gladly take it into account, see you until a next post!