Cat Panleukopenia

"Cat panleukopenia is a contagious viral disease that is seen all over world. A type of parvovirus causes this disease. It is very resistant and may persist for months in the environment. Feline panleukopenia is more common in unvaccinated cats, and may cause symptoms such as fever, depression, vomiting and anorexia (loss of appetite). Clinical abdominal pain and dehydration will also occur. Nervous signs, such as tremors (muscle movement) and ataxia (lack of muscle coordination) are common in severe cases and most cats that have recovered . Diagnosis is made upon completion of a clinical examination and serological lab testing. A patient is isolated from other cats and treated with vigorous fluid therapy, followed by a symptomatic treatment plan, Vaccinating healthy cats with modified live vaccine can prevent feline panleukopenia viruses, and is considered to be very effective."

Causes of Cat Panleukopenia

Panleukopenia is a condition caused by “Feline Panleukopenia Virus” (FPV); which is a type of parvovirus. It is considered to be very resistant in that it is hard to kill in the environment. Recovering cats can shed virus particles in feces which can spread in the environment through contamination and fomites (touching any contaminated object). The virus can survive for months in the environment and can infect any unvaccinated cat, resulting in a passing of the disease.

The urinary system of a cat has vital importance in maintaining the health and physiology or the normal functioning of a cat’s body. The Kidney, Ureter, Urinary bladder, and Urethra are some important organs in this system; each plays its own role in excretion (removing waste from the body such as urine). Some glands are associated with these organs in terms of regulating the entire process.

Pathogenesis of Cat Panleukopenia:

Roaming cats and young kittens are more susceptible to cat panleukopenia. Exposure to secretions (neg; urine), feces and fomites (anything that can carry disease) of diseased and/or carrier cats can cause infection in healthy cats.

Feline Panleukopenia Virus (FPV), after entering into the body, destroys dividing cells in the bone marrow, lymph tissues, epithelium (outer layer) of the intestine etc, thus severely depriving the immune system of the body. In pregnant queens, the virus can pass through the transplacental barrier and may cause abortion, mummification and/or still birth.

The incubation period of the virus is 2–7 days, after which clinical signs are documented.

Signs and Symptoms of Panleukopenia

Kittens and unvaccinated cats are more susceptible to feline panleukopenia, making the disease “sub clinical”. Kittens may die suddenly, without revealing any signs in acute cases, which are cases that come on suddenly.

Fever (104–108 Degree Fahrenheit), depression and anorexia (loss of appetite) are common signs of feline panleukopenia. Affected cats may vomit or tend to vomit, after the onset of fever. Vomiting is unrelated to food intake. Diarrhea may or may not be noted, but dehydration develops rapidly. On palpation (feeling a cat's abdomen), cats may experience abdominal pain and the abdomen appears relatively stiffer than normal.

In the end, affected cats appear hypothermia (low body temperature) and shock may develop within 5–7 days of the onset of the disease onset.

Diagnosis of Cat Panleukopenia:

Clinical signs, vaccination history and serological tests in a laboratory can confirm cat panleukopenia. Decreased levels of WBC (white blood cells) in the serum are noted, and Total WBC count; which is less than 2000 cells per ul, is considered as a “Poor Prognosis”. FPV antigen in samples, can confirm panleukpenia viruses.

Differentiation of panleukopenia in cats from Feline Leukemia, Sallmonellosis and feline immunodeficiency is necessary to treat the condition effectively.

Treatment of Cat Panleukopenia:

Fluid therapy and supportive nursing in isolation can effectively treat acute cases of cat panleukopenia. Disturbances in the electrolyte balance will occur; therefore, close monitoring and extreme care are necessary.

5% Ringer’s lactate combined with potassium supplements and Vitamin B complex should be administered at once, and in some cases where secondary bacterial infection is detected, broad-spectrum antibiotics can be added to the infusions. Veterinarians will rehydrate the cat to normal before administering antibiotics.

Antiemetic (stops vomiting) drugs, such as metoclopramide can help in restoring gastrointestinal physiology, thus enabling cats to intake soft foods. In severe cases, intravenous administration of nutrients is usually required.

Additional support can be provided with the homeopathic product Panleuk-Free Panluek-Free. IT helps to protect the cat's immune system when virally compromised.  This approach when used with conventional "base" treatments can potentially help to reduce the severity of symptoms and help with a faster recovery.  See the manufacturers site for clinical support and more details.


Modified live vaccine can prevent the lifelong occurrence of cat panleukopenia if administered at age 6 – 9 weeks, repeated 3 weeks apart. Live vaccines are never recommended for pregnant queens and immune suppressed cats, therefore inactivated modified vaccines are preferred.

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The Merck/Merial Manual for Pet Health