What Can You Do for a Cat With Distemper?


What Can You Do for a Cat With Distemper?
Distemper in cats, also known as panleukopenia or feline distemper, is an extremely deadly and contagious viral disease. Unfortunately, there is no known cure for feline distemper. The disease has a high mortality rate without treatment. But feline distemper is preventable through vaccination. It is a common disease that almost all cats encounter at an early age.

About Feline Distemper

Cats of all ages are vulnerable to the feline distemper virus. But unvaccinated cats and kittens with a poor immune system face a higher risk of contracting the virus. This leads to severe and potentially fatal gastrointestinal complications. The panleukopenia virus spreads through contact with infected:
  • Urine.
  • Blood.
  • Feces.
  • Nasal discharge.
  • Saliva.

Diagnosing Feline Distemper

The symptoms of panleukopenia are not specific to this virus. For this reason, your vet will have to perform comprehensive tests to assess your cat’s condition.

CBC Test

This involves checking your pet’s platelets and blood cells. An infected cat has low platelets and blood cell levels. On the chemistry panel, your cat may exhibit a decrease in the albumin levels and an increase in liver enzymes. Low albumin levels are often an indication of severe harm from the infection. Cats with these signs are at a greater risk of death from the disease.

Other Tests

Parvovirus Test – Other in-clinic tests for the disease involve testing the fecal matter. Sometimes, the virus levels may be too low to detect within a couple of days. For this reason, you must go for the test as soon as you notice the symptoms.
PCR Test – Your pet doctor tests your feline’s fecal material and blood. This is important if your furry friend has been sick for a few days.
Serology – This is a test that looks for antibodies. But vaccines can cause the antibodies to rise, thereby affecting the results.

What Can Vets Do?

As mentioned earlier, there is no known cure for feline distemper. Its treatment often involves supportive care. This could be through:
  • Hydration through intravenous fluids.
  • The use of antibiotics. They treat secondary infections, reducing the risk of septicemia.
  • The use of anti-nausea medications. These include metoclopramide or maropitant.
  • Caloric support through feeding tubes.
  • Blood transfusion if necessary.

What You Can Do at Home?

You can take your cat home to continue their healing process. This is possible once your furry companion can hold water, food, and medication. Vets recommend feeding your recovering cat small, frequent meals.

Bland-diet meals are preferable as they continue taking their anti-nausea medications. Continue giving your feline friend the full course of the prescribed antibiotics, even though they seem cured.

The Takeaway

The most effective defense against feline distemper is vaccinating your cat. Note that cats with distemper shed this highly contagious virus all over their environment. So, if you have other cats or are planning to get a new one, talk to your vet about the precautions you need to take. They recommend quarantining or disinfecting surfaces with bleach. Yet, preventive vaccination remains the best solution for fighting the virus.

For more on dealing with a cat with feline distemper, call Highland Veterinary Clinic at 812-710-4300 to reach our office in Evansville, Indiana.