Treating Feline Distemper With Fel-O-Vax

Feline distemper, or panleukopenia, is a highly contagious and life-threatening disease caused by a parvovirus. The virus is very prevalent, and almost all cats will be exposed to it at one point or another.

The most common places to find the virus are shelters, pet stores and feral colonies. Transmission occurs through direct contact with the cat and its feces or urine. The environment is also a major reservoir for the virus, as food dishes, cages, bedding, litter boxes and even soil can become contaminated. For this reason, it is one of the most highly recommended vaccines for pet cats.

Symptoms of Feline Distemper

Feline distemper can be somewhat hard to recognize, and the most common symptoms are very generalized, that can lead you to believe another condition may be present. These include:

  • Loss off appetite
  • Depression
  • High Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Dehydration

In young cats particularly, the presence of these symptoms should be met with concern, as feline distemper is more common in younger cats. The virus first attacks cells currently dividing, causing the generalized symptoms. In later stages, once the virus has begun to mangle your cat's internal environment, the virus attacks the lymph nodes, then the bone marrow. When it reaches the intestinal organs, the following symptoms will be noticed:

  • Excessive feces and urination
  • Salivation
  • Frothing at the mouth
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

All secretions from an infected cat are contaminated, and contact with these may lead to the contraction of the disease in another animal.

In the last stages of feline distemper, the virus will attack the cat's white blood cells, and effectively crush the immune system. As with most autoimmune diseases, cats die from a secondary bacterial infection or from dehydration, and not from feline distemper itself.

Treatment with Fel-O-Vax

Fel-O-Vax is the vaccine commonly used to prevent feline distemper. It is strongly encouraged that you administer this vaccine as soon as possible to all cats over 10 weeks of age.

If your cat is already infected with feline distemper, aggressive medication is necessary, as well as an anti-dehydration regiment if the virus has reached the intestines. The virus must be kept at bay until the immune system recovers and can throw off the infection itself. The cat can then be effectively vaccinated with Fel-O-Vax against future infections.

You should not use Fel-O-Vax on cats under four months, or in pregnant and nursing animals. Likewise, due to Fel-O-Vax's nature and the way it interacts with your cat's immune system, its use should be avoided in cats with a suppressed immune system.

Fel-O-Vax Side Effects

Cats inoculated with Fel-O-Vax vaccine often feel unwell for up to 24 hours after receiving a dose. This is common, however, and no medical attention is required unless the illness continues. Some cats, however, may have an allergic reaction such as anaphylaxis, which requires immediate medical attention and the administration of an antihistamine or corticosteroids as necessary.

Feline distemper is a very common and potentially deadly disease that almost all cats are exposed to at some point in their life. Vaccination is strongly recommended, as is medical attention at the first possible generalized signs of the disease. Even if it looks like a different disorder, an unvaccinated cat should be checked, as death from feline distemper can easily occur within a week.