Protect your cats from the deadly panleukemia

To keep your kitten safe from FPL and other deadly diseases,  the kitten needs to be dewormed  4-6 weeks after birth. Your vet  will examine the kitten before deworming to determine  if he or she is fit for  deworming.  In the photo is  Nagui, a kitten left on the side of  the busy Naguillan Road in La Union. He was almost hit by a truck but was rescued by Save Animals of Love and Light (Save ALL).  Nagui, along with brother Lian, was  dewormed and vaccinated. 

There are many illnesses that cats can get on the streets or even at home, with humans as carriers of  the virus through their shoes or slippers.

Veterinarians  thus  always  urge  cat owners to have their pets  vaccinated.

One of the three deadly, highly communicable diseases is FELINE PANLEUKOPENIA VIRUS.

Feline panleukopenia virus (FPV) is also known as CAT PLAGUE,  feline infectious enteritis, feline parvoviral enteritis, feline distemper, or feline ataxia.

It is a viral infection  that affect both domesticated cats and wild feline species.

The cause is  feline parvovirus, a close relative of both type 2 canine parvovirus and mink enteritis.

It can be fatal to the affected cat and is highly contagious.


Panleukopenia is spread through contact with an infected animal's bodily fluids, feces, or other fomites.

It can also be spread through fleas, thus preventive spot-ons are also given to cats but only those formulated for cats.  Those formulated for dogs are a big No-No  for cats because these can cause damage to a cat’s organ (s)  or worse, lead to  the cat’s death.

It may also be spread to and by cats  through contact with beddings, food dishes, or even through the clothes and shoes of handlers of infected animals.

Humans will not get infected.


Like all parvoviruses, FPV is extremely resistant to inactivation and can survive longer than one year in a suitable environment. The virus primarily attacks the lining of the gastrointestinal tract causing internal ulceration.

This results in:

1.   profuse and usually bloody diarrhea,

2.   severe dehydration,

3.   malnutrition,

4.   anemia ,

5.   and often, death.

It causes a decrease in the cat's white blood cell, thus compromising the cat’s immune system. Typically, it also causes a decrease in hematocrit and platelet counts . This is often key in diagnosing panleukopenia.

Other symptoms include:

1.   depression,

2.   lethargy,

3.    loss of appetite,

4.   fever,

5.   vomiting,

6.   loss of skin elasticity due to dehydration,

7.   and self-biting in the tail, lower back and back legs.

Affected cats may sit for hours at their water bowl, although they may not drink much.   This  is one of the things you should not ignore and must report to your vet.

Amber, a stray kitten who was found in Pasay City by Save ALL admin Tani Benedito, was given the  tricat vaccine recently to keep him safe from three deadly diseases, including FPL, and Author  Doc Anthony Prado Basa plays with Val, another rescued kitten, during his weekly visit to the  care home for  rescued dogs and cats of  Save ALL.

Cats with terminal cases are hypothermic (low temperature) and may develop sepsis .

Most  panleukopenia deaths are due to secondary infections or dehydration resulting from diarrhea. This is because the virus affects the infected cat's immune system, leaving it vulnerable to secondary infection.

Feline panleukopaenia and canine parvovirus are closely related, but viruses can not be transmitted between dogs and cats.


Feline panleukopenia (FPL) requires aggressive treatment if the cat is to survive, as this disease can kill cats in less than 24 hours.

Treatment includes

1.   whole blood transfusion to improve pancytopenia,

2.   intravenous fluids as most cats are dehydrated,

3.   antibiotics,

4.   injections of vitamins to prevent septicemia which develops in most cats with feline panleukopenia if antibiotics are not used,  and

5.   hospitalization.


Complications are quite common in feline panleukopenia. The most prevalent one is dehydration, which develops in almost all FPL-infected cats who are clinically ill.


1. Deworming

2. Vaccination

3. Regular vet check-up

Cat owners are encouraged to always seek the help of a veterinarian in the proper care of their pets.

About the Author: 

Anthony Prado Basa, 34, graduated from Virgen Milgarosa University Foundation in San Carlos City, Pangasinan in 2008.  He is married to Married to Mariliza Basa  and  has been a practicing vet in Metro Manila for several years now. He is the head veterinarian at Sha Sha Veterinary Clinic, West Avenue, Quezon City.

Topics: Veterinarians , urge , cat , owners , vaccinated

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