It is only fair that since we go into some detail explaining the symptoms, remedies and inhibitions associated with major disorders in dogs, against which vaccines exist, we should (must ) do the same for pet cats in many, many households.
PANLEUKOPENIA FELINE (FPL), also known as Feline Infection Enteritis.
Q: How serious and contagious is this feline disease? Is it caused by a virus?
A: FPL is a highly contagious and widespread viral disease worldwide. The virus also attacks wild cats – whether the habitats are the savannahs or the jungle. Unvaccinated kittens are particularly vulnerable to this. The mortality rate is high. My own experience is that when a “wave” of FPL is circulating through Guyana and the Caribbean, we veterinarians, exchanging reports, know full well that FPL is swelling; and, of course, we advise our clients, who may have fallen in the vaccination schedules to bring in their feline wards for vaccination. Over recent years, veterinarians have not experienced massive outbreaks of this disease – perhaps because of the effectiveness of our vaccination programs.
NB Alternatively, I should mention that many people call FPL: “Feline Distemper”. FPL is in no way related to the virus that causes Canine Distemper.
Q: How is the disease transmitted?
A: (i) Through actual contact with an infected cat or faeces / secretions.
(ii) Exposure to contaminated food equipment and litter boxes, even through the Clinic’s clothing and hands and household personnel.
(iii) Through bites of fleas and other external parasites.
(iv) The disease can infect the kittens, even when they are still in their mother’s womb.
(v) To a lesser extent, this virus can be transported in air.
Q: What are the symptoms?
A: (i) The virus is often in the cat well before the symptoms start to show.
(ii) Signs of illness appear 2-10 days after exposure / contamination.
(iii) The first sign tends to be incompetence (loss of appetite).
(iv) Fever (as high as 105 ° F / 38 ° C).
(v) Lack of inventory.
(vi) Repeated vomiting (wet, yellow in color).
(vii) Thirst – but seems unable to drink even water.
(viii) Display of pain (crying) even as the cat is in his / her food / water bowl. Pain expression is usually displayed if the cat’s abdomen is touched, no matter how tender it is.
(ix) Diarrhea which can usually develop later (but sometimes even at the onset of the disease). Sometimes there are bloody stripes in the soft / watery stool.
• Sometimes the onset of FPL disease is so sudden that even the caregiver does not recognize that the cat / cat is ill.
Q: Treatment?
A: This is one disease where it is best to NOT err on the side of caution. Most clients think the cat / kitten has swallowed poison – but in fact the FPL virus causes the listlessness and vomiting. Consult your veterinarian immediately. The vet will deliver intensive care, namely:
(i) Replace Fluid (drip) with B – Vitamins in the infusion.
(ii) Antibiotics (against secondary bacterial infection).
(iii) Therapy aimed at improving the vitality and strength of the weak cat / kitten. The veterinarian may have to feed special concoctions that have proper nutritional value, through a stomach tube.
• Despite the veterinary therapeutic intervention, many cats die.
• Cats recovering from FPL infections can have brain damage, which causes disproportionate movement (sudden gait).
• Improving cats may be permanently / partially sighted.
Q: How effective is prevention
A: One aspect of prevention is to keep the immediate environment as clear as possible. Note that the FPL virus is durable and robust and can withstand variations in temperature. Also, it can exist for a long time in dry fecal material in the outside environment and also (in the house) in carpets, chair cushions, floor cracks and crevices – for as long as one year.
I always suggest as a preventative undertaking – once you’ve decided to own and care for your pets – that you clean the cat’s bowls and instant grooming equipment with a 1:30 household bleach solution (6% hypochlorite solution), or 4% formalin solution for about 10 minutes. During the cleaning, keep the cat in its cage. Simple sweet smelling disinfectants are not good at killing viruses in a kennel or cat.
Also, keep your cats free of external parasites. Your vet will advise you what to use. The second option, by far the most viable option, is to vaccinate your kittens / kittens. Later, we will discuss the Vaccination Schedule). Inactive and modified – live virus vaccines, used by veterinarians, have proven to be particularly good, and provide long-lasting immunity. The versatile vaccine also includes other feline diseases as well.
NB • Before vaccination, you must tell your vet that your cat may be in the early stages of pregnancy. He / she will palpate the cat and decide not to vaccinate because if the cat is found to be pregnant, the cat will very likely abort the kittens shortly after vaccination. The cat could be vaccinated before it is bred.
• I was told that the cat may exhibit partial blindness after vaccination against the FPL virus. The manufacturers of the feline vaccines have not included this warning in their accompanying leaflets; and I have never seen this condition in cats after vaccination.
Stay Safe.

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