Feline panleukopenia: causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment

Feline Panleukopenia (FPV) is also known as Feline Infectious Enteritis. This disease is caused by a virus known as Feline Parvovirus. This is a very resistant virus to the environment, since it can survive for a long time and remain in places such as the bed, the feeder and the toys of a cat that has been infected. It tends to affect new born or young cats that have not yet been vaccinated to a greater extent. And it is usually feared by any veterinarian, as 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, decay and depression, loss of appetite, fever that can reach a temperature of 40 degrees. Later, due to these digestive problems, they begin to suffer from anemia, bloody diarrhea, extreme dehydration and also anorexia.

It can even affect neurological functions. Since 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 by a pregnant cat, this condition could affect the neurological functions of the young. They would be born with Ataxia problems.

Causes of Feline Panleukopenia

Feline Parvovirus, the virus that causes Feline Panleukopenia, is a quite dangerous and environmentally resistant virus, since it can remain alive for up to a year. In most cases, cats are usually infected when they have some type of contact with feces from other cats that already have the disease. Since after the virus is contracted, it can be excreted through feces, urine or any 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. That is, the virus can be present anywhere a cat has been infected. Since the moment a kitten begins to lick or lick something in an environment that is in these conditions, it would be ingesting it.

The virus after being ingested by the cat begins to multiply within the digestive tract and bone marrow, thus spreading throughout the body and is usually fatal because the main affected are baby cats, which have not yet developed a strong immune system to fight it.

Diagnosis of Feline Panleukopenia

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

Complete Hematology

By carrying out a blood test where the red blood cells, leukocytes and platelets and their relative proportions are studied, the veterinarian will be able to detect that the patient is infected with this virus, even if the test is carried out in an initial stage of the disease.

This test checks for the presence of leukopenia (Decrease in leukocytes in the blood), which in severe cases will give a result of 50 to 3,000 leukocytes and in milder cases it will be 3,000 to 6,000 leukocytes.


By performing an ALT test, to rule out liver involvement. Since ALT is an enzyme that helps the liver convert food into energy. And when an increase in this enzyme is detected, it may be that the liver is injured.

Stool Exam

Stool samples would be taken from the feces of the sick cat and immunochromatography (migration of a sample through a nitrocellulose membrane) or ELISA (Enzyme-Linked Immunoassay Technique) would be performed.

These tests could give 5 types of results:

  • Positive result for unvaccinated cats.
  • Positive result for vaccinated cats, since the vaccine may not have been applied correctly.
  • Negative result. Even if the test is negative, it does not necessarily mean there is no infection with this virus. It may be that the disease has progressed to another stage and you are no longer shedding the virus in your stool.
  • Negative result. If the test is performed in the first stage of the disease, it may not have developed yet and it may appear irregularly.
  • Negative result, The cat is not a carrier of feline panleukopenia virus (FPV).

Treatment to combat Feline Panleukopenia

There is no specific treatment to combat this disease. The main thing you should do is take your cat immediately to the vet to be checked and later diagnosed.

In most cases the doctor will try to raise the patient’s defenses through immunomodulatory therapy. In order for the immune system of the affected cat to start fighting the virus from within.

As for the digestive disorders produced by the virus, these can be treated by giving some antibiotics. Another essential part is to rehydrate the patient’s body, because due to vomiting and diarrhea, severe levels of dehydration can occur.

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 that suffer from it are young cats.

Finally, we want to remind you of the importance of giving your kitten all the vaccines, as this is the most effective way to prevent them from suffering a serious disease such as Feline Panleukopenia.

This article is informative and in case of detecting any warning signs, we recommend that you go to your veterinarian so that it can carry out the appropriate tests to detect this disease, as well as evaluate and implement the appropriate treatment.

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