What is Cat Distemper?
Cat distemper, also known as feline panleukopenia is a serious, highly contagious disease that affects cats and various forms of wildlife such as endangered large cats, minks, skunks, raccoons and otters.
The symptoms and signs usually emerge within ten days of infection and include:
What Causes Cat Distemper?
Cat Distemper is caused by the feline parvovirus which is present in things and places that have not been disinfected. This disease cannot be transmitted to dogs or people. It is spread through contact with an infected animal’s bodily secretions such as saliva, mucus, vomit, urine and feces. Feline distemper can be contracted through contact with infected cats, their food bowls, bedding and living area.
Humans can also infect their cats if their hands or clothes are contaminated with an infected cat’s fluids. Fleas and other insects can also transmit this disease. Unvaccinated cats, especially kittens are susceptible to cat distemper because their immune systems are weak.
However, cats of any age may become infected and the risk for developing the disease increases for those living in groups such as feral colonies, catteries, rescue facilities, animal shelters or pet stores. The distemper virus can survive indoors for a year and is also resistant to freezing conditions and disinfectants.
If your household has been exposed to the distemper virus, get rid of everything that cat infected or had contact with. Use a solution of bleach and water during ten minutes to kill the virus.
Cat distemper has the potential to be life-threatening. The virus kills off the white blood cells needed to fight off infection and causes ulceration in the digestive tract. As a result diarrhea and vomiting develops which leads to severe dehydration and secondary bacterial infections. If the virus strikes during pregnancy, the pregnant cat will lose her kittens.
If kittens survive, they may develop cerebellar hypoplasia, a disease which affects their central nervous system. Cerebellar hypoplasia can also develop because of vaccination during pregnancy. Although cat distemper cannot be cured, vaccinating your cat against this disease and practicing good sanitary habits can make a significant difference.
Diagnosing Cat Distemper
The diagnosis of cat distemper is based on the symptoms presented and review of your cat’s medical history. In order to confirm the diagnosis of distemper, it is necessary to rule out other diseases. Certain tests such as blood tests and taking a fecal sample may be performed to make a positive diagnosis.
Help for Cat Distemper
While there is no cure for cat distemper, treatment involves administering certain medications and supportive care to keep your cat alive. This is not a condition that can be treated at home and your cat should be admitted to a hospital. Antibiotics and intravenous fluids are given to treat "bacterial infections":cats-dogs-bacterial-infection-remedies.html and prevent dehydration.
Keep cats in a warm, well ventilated area, isolated from any other cats, during this period. Feed palatable, easily digestible, high calorie food in small amounts throughout the day– feeding them out of your hand is recommended as they may be very weak.
Remember to constantly shower your cat with love and attention and be sure to stroke and pet him as this will speed recovery. Make sure that you disinfect your hands and change your clothes before touching any unaffected cats.
Ensure that your kittens and cats receive the distemper vaccine – kittens should be vaccinated between 6 to 8 weeks and repeated again at 12 and 16 weeks. Adult cats should receive an annual immunity booster.
Natural and holistic remedies have a long history of providing overall immune support to both cats and their owners. Homeopathic remedies are safe and gentle for kittens, adult cats as well as pregnant queens.
Homeopathic ingredients such as Panleukopenia, Arsen alb., Phosphorus, Baptisia and Ferrum phos supports a compromised immune system and maintains gastrointestinal and respiratory system health. It also improves hydration, increases appetite and energy levels for ill cats.
More Information on Cat Distemper
Tips to prevent cat distemper
There are several ways to reduce the risk of your cat developing cat distemper and these include
- Feed your cat high quality commercial food or an all natural diet without additives, preservatives or colorants
- Provide fresh, clean water daily and encourage your cat to drink regularly
- Keep your cat healthy and fit by exercising him regularly
- Make sure that your cat’s vaccinations are updated regularly, especially if you intend breeding, showing or sending your cat to a boarding cattery
- Vaccinate kittens between 6 and 8 weeks old, and then repeat vaccinations as per your vet’s instructions
- Wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling your cat
- Maintain a hygienic environment – regularly disinfect your pet’s food and water bowls, sleep area as well as litter box
- Avoid contact between your cat and other strange cats
- Strengthen your pet’s immune system with immune-building supplements
- Visit your vet regularly for routine check ups to ensure overall health and wellbeing