Pet Education

Browse our veterinary-reviewed Dog and Cat Illness Guide to learn more about pet health. Always talk to your veterinarian if you have a concern about your pet's symptoms or health.
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Feline Panleukopenia

Feline Distemper

Panleukopenia is a virus that decreases white blood cells, which normally fight infection. This causes the cat to be highly susceptible to other infections and can be fatal.

An infected cat sheds the virus in all secretions (feces, vomit, urine, saliva, mucus). A cat can contract the virus through contaminated objects or through direct contact with an infected cat.


Symptoms of other infections (like pus from the eyes and nose), because the immune system is suppressed

If you see any of the above symptoms, go to the vet immediately, because this virus can lead to collapse and death very quickly.


Many diseases show the same symptoms as panleukopenia, so your vet will do different tests to rule them out. Tests may include:


There is no specific treatment for panleukopenia, as with most viruses. The goal of treatment is to keep the cat alive until its immune system recovers enough to fight the infection. Supportive care will include:


There is a vaccine available and is recommended with the basic feline vaccinations.

Keep in mind that after a cat recovers, it will shed the virus for 6 weeks. Therefore, you should disinfect contaminated objects with a bleach solution.


Kittens less than 8 weeks old do not have a good prognosis, but if they do survive the infection, they will be immune to this virus for life.

Adult cats that have been vaccinated and receive medical treatment have a good prognosis.

Medically Reviewed by Sara Ochoa, DVM

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