Feline Panleukopenia Virus (FPV) in Cats

Feline Panleukopenia Virus (FPV) in Cats

In this insightful blog post, we explore Feline Panleukopenia Virus (FPV). VSL veterinarian Dr. Seán details the virus’s impact on a cat’s immune system and highlights common symptoms, transmission methods, and the challenge of treating FPV.

With a survival rate of 20-50%, especially grim for kittens, prevention takes precedence as Dr. Seán emphasizes the effectiveness of vaccinations.

What is Feline Panleukopenia Virus?

FPV is a virus belonging to the parvovirus family, similar to the one that is seen in dogs. The actual definition of the term “Panleukopenia” refers to a decrease in the number of all the white blood cells in the body. This severely impacts the cat’s ability to fight off secondary infections. The virus replicates in rapidly dividing cells such as the intestines.

What are FPV symptoms?

Infected cats often adopt a characteristic pose in which they hang their heads over their water bowl but do not drink from it.

Some other common symptoms are:

  • Depression
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea/Bloody diarrhoea
  • Dehydration
  • Sudden death

Multiple other symptoms may occur because of secondary infections due to a weakened immune system. Recognizing these symptoms is crucial for early detection and prompt veterinary intervention.

How does this virus spread?

FPV is present in all bodily secretions of infected cats, mainly faeces. Susceptible cats can become infected from direct contact with a sick cat but also from contaminated surfaces such as water and food bowls, shoes, and clothing.

The time between the susceptible cat coming in contact with the virus and showing clinical signs is usually 3-5 days but in some cases can be even longer.

The virus is resilient, capable of surviving for a year or more in certain environments, and can only be effectively eliminated by using appropriate disinfectants. Preventative measures, including vaccination and maintaining good hygiene practices, are essential to curb the spread of FPV.

How to treat FPV?

Unfortunately there is no easy cure for FPV. AFntibiotics are not effective against a virus, however they are given as a means to control secondary bacterial infections. Treatment for FPV consists of supportive therapy and intensive care to help the cat to fight off the virus. Survival rate is 20-50% with hospital care, kittens below 8 weeks of age have a much poorer prognosis.

Until a kitten is fully vaccinated, it is recommended to take precautions and avoid areas or situations that could potentially expose the kitten to the virus. Early detection, supportive care, and preventative measures are key in managing FPV.

Prevention is better than Cure

Preventing Feline Panleukopenia Virus (FPV) involves a combination of vaccination, hygiene practices, and careful management. Here are key strategies for FPV prevention:

  1. Vaccination: Ensure that cats receive the full course of vaccinations against FPV. Vaccines are highly effective in providing immunity and preventing the onset of the disease. Consult with a veterinarian to establish a suitable vaccination schedule.
    • FPV vaccination single dose (incl. consultation): 44$
    • Full primary course cat vaccinations (incl. FPV): ~115.50$ (2-3 appointments required)
    • Annual pet health plan (including vaccinations/boosters): 22$-28$ per month
  2. Isolation of Infected Cats: If a cat is diagnosed with FPV, it’s crucial to isolate the infected cat to prevent the spread of the virus to other cats in the household or community.
  3. Hygiene and Disinfection: Maintain a clean environment for cats, paying special attention to litter boxes and areas frequented by cats. FPV can persist in the environment for an extended period, so regular cleaning and disinfection with appropriate disinfectants is essential.
  4. Quarantine for New Cats: When introducing a new cat into a household or community, consider a quarantine period to ensure the newcomer is not carrying the virus. This is particularly important in multi-cat environments.
  5. Avoid High-Risk Areas: Until kittens are fully vaccinated, it’s advisable to avoid areas with a high risk of FPV transmission. This includes facilities where groups of cats are housed together (e.g. boarding/shelters), and places where stray or unknown cats may frequent.
  6. Consult with a Veterinarian: Regular veterinary check-ups and consultations are essential for monitoring a cat’s health and ensuring timely vaccinations and preventative measures.

By incorporating these preventative measures, cat owners and caregivers can significantly reduce the risk of Feline Panleukopenia Virus and contribute to the overall well-being of feline populations.

What’s next

Book your consult (33$) with Dr. Seán or his colleagues at VSL:

Visit us at our BKK1 location (St. 334 #33, Corner St. 63). We are open every day:

  • Monday – Saturday (9am – 7pm)
  • Sunday (9am – 5pm)

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