Feline Distemper Symptoms

Feline distemper symptoms can come on very fast and be very severe. Most cat owners bring their cats into the vet thinking their pet must have somehow ingested something poisonous, because that's how an infected cat acts: as if it has been poisoned. Feline distemper, also called panleukopenia, is a serious pet health condition. It is highly contagious virus that can cause death if your cat is not vaccinated. If you suspect your cat has feline distemper, you need to get your cat to the vet immediately in order to get a proper diagnosis and supportive care.

Symptoms of Feline Distemper
The initial sign of distemper is severe lethargy. Your cat may be so exhausted that he does not have the will to drink water you bring to him, or to get up to get to the litter box. Most cats with feline distemper will act very sick within a few hours of contracting the disease. The most common symptoms are the following:

  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Seizures
  • Lethargy
  • Signs of severe dehydration

If your cat has feline distemper, your vet will provide IVs for hydration and nutrition, medication to slow the diarrhea and other basic life support. The sooner you get your cat in for attention, the better chance your cat will have to overcome this virus. If your cat makes it through the first five days, there is a very good chance she will survive if she continues to get good support.

Almost all cats are exposed to feline distemper virus at some point in their lives. This is because the panleukopenia virus can survive for years. The virus is shed in cat urine or feces, then is transmitted to a new host cat when the new cat comes in contact with anything that has been exposed to contaminated cat waste. Even the dust on your shoes may contain the panleukopenia virus. Because this virus is practically everywhere, it is essential that you get your kitten vaccinated against feline distemper as part of your basic pet health care program.

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