Feline panleukopenia, symptoms, causes and diagnosis

Feline panleukopenia (FPV), is also known as Feline Infectious Enteritis. This disease is caused by a virus known as Feline Parvovirus. It is a very resistant virus to the environment because it can survive for a long time and stay in places such as the bed, feeder, and toys of a cat that has been infected. It tends to affect newborn cats or young cats that have not yet been vaccinated more. And it’s generally feared by any vet because it can be fatal in most cases.

Symptoms of feline panleukopenia

The first symptoms that appear in a cat infected with feline panleukopenia are diarrhea, vomiting, tooth decay and depression, loss of appetite, fever of up to 40 degrees. Subsequently, due to these digestive problems, they start to suffer from anemia, hemorrhagic diarrhea, extreme dehydration, and also anorexia.

It can even affect neurological functions. Because if the virus affects the cerebellum, it can cause Ataxia, which is a lack of balance and coordination in muscle movements.

If the virus is contracted from a gestational cat, this condition could affect the neurological functions of the offspring. They would have been born with ataxia problems.

Causes of feline panleukopenia

Feline parvovirus, the virus that causes feline panleukopenia is very dangerous and resistant to the environment, as it can stay alive for up to a year. In most cases, cats are usually infected when they have some contact with the stools of other cats who already have the disease. Because once the virus is contracted, it can be excreted in feces, urine, or any other fluid produced by the infected cat’s body. However, this is not the only means of contagion. The virus can also be acquired in a contaminated environment. In other words, the virus can be present anywhere a cat has been infected. Because as soon as a kitten begins to lick itself or lick something in an environment that is in these conditions, it ingests it.

The virus, after being ingested by the cat, begins to multiply in the digestive tract and bone marrow, thus spreading throughout the body and is usually fatal as the cats most affected are kittens, which do not yet have a strong immune system to fight it.

Diagnosis of feline panleukopenia

To make a diagnosis of this disease, the first thing to do is to take your cat to the vet immediately if you see that he has any of the symptoms mentioned above. Diarrhea, vomiting, weakness, and fever. There, the medical expert will use different methods to establish an accurate diagnosis such as:

Complete hematology

During a blood test where the red blood cells, leukocytes, and platelets are examined and their relative proportions, the veterinarian will be able to detect that the patient has this virus, even if the test is done at an early stage of the disease. This test checks for the presence of leukopenia (decrease in leukocytes in the blood) which, in severe cases, gives 50 to 3000 leukocytes and, in milder cases, 3000 to 6000 leukocytes.


By performing an ALT ALT test, to rule out liver damage. ALT is an enzyme that helps the liver convert food into energy. And when an increase in this enzyme is detected, the liver can be damaged.

Coprological examination

Coprological samples would be taken from the stools of the sick cat and immunochromatographic examinations (migration of a sample through a nitrocellulose membrane) or ELISA (enzyme immunoassay). These tests could give 5 types of results:

  • Positive for unvaccinated cats
  • Positive for vaccinated cats, as the vaccine may not have been applied correctly.
  • A negative result, Even if the test gives a negative result, it does not necessarily mean that there is no infection with this virus. The disease may have reached another stage and no longer passes the virus in the stool.
  • A negative result, If the test is done at the first stage of the disease, it may not yet be developed and manifest irregularly.
  • Negative result. The cat is not a carrier of the feline panleukopenia virus (FPV).

Treatment for the feline panleukopenia

There is no specific treatment to combat this disease. The main thing to do is to immediately take your cat to the vet for examination and diagnosis later.

In most cases, the doctor will try to increase the patient’s immune system with immunomodulatory treatment. So that the immune system of the affected cat begins to fight the virus from the inside.

As for the digestive affections produced by the virus, they can be treated by means of the contribution of certain antibiotics. Another essential part is to rehydrate the patient’s body as severe levels of dehydration can occur due to vomiting and diarrhea.

However, despite the actions taken by the veterinarian on the affected cat if it does not have an immune system with high defenses, the disease can be fatal. This is why most of the victims are young cats or babies.

Finally, we want to remind you of the importance of giving your kitten all the vaccines, because it is the most effective way to prevent a disease as serious as feline panleukopenia.

This article is informative and if any warning signs are detected, we recommend that you visit your veterinarian so that they can perform the appropriate tests to detect this disease, as well as evaluate and apply the appropriate treatment.

If this article has helped you learn something new about this disease, please share it on your social networks.



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