Categories: Infection

Feline Distemper Symptom

photo by massdistraction

I’ll get straight to the point:

Feline Distemper Symptom

Acute illness is apparent very quickly and the course of the disease can be very short. From infection to death can be 3-5 days. Sometimes the person keeping the cat may not be fully aware that a kitten is ill before she/he dies as the disease acts so quickly.

Transmission of disease to kitten in the womb:

  • Kittens may develop cerebellar hypoplasia (underdevelopment of the cerebellum of the brain).

    The symptom of this is a loss of balance, head tremor (from 2 weeks of age). No cure but it doesn’t get worse. See video below.

In an adult who has caught the disease the early signs are:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Severe apathy
  • Extreme depression
  • Fever (105°F)
  • May give impression cat is poisoned

Symptoms include:

  • gastrointestinal symptoms:
  • Vomiting repeatedly and immediately after drinking (some cats do not vomit before death
  • Thirsty but unable to drink
  • Bringing up yellow stained bile that is frothy
  • Cat clearly suffering pain (crying in pain and crouching, with the head a few inches above the water bowl)
  • Anorexia
  • Dehydration (skin on back of neck doesn’t go back to previous position when pulled)
  • Vomiting blood suddenly happens sometimes
  • bone marrow severely depressed – lowering of white blood cell count

Later feline distemper symptoms:

  • Diarrhea – stools are yellow or streaked with blood or watery, copious and foul smelling (some cats do not demonstrate this feline distemper symptom before death
  • main cause of death for cats that are not treated is blood poisoning – bacterial infection of the blood stream (scepticemia)
  • another cause of death is dehydration (due to loss of fluid from vomiting and diarrhea)

Transmission of the Disease

This is a serious and widespread disease. The word “distemper” would seem to be misleading as there is no relation to distemper in dogs. It is a highly contagious disease and easily transmitted from cat to cat. It can be transmitted by people on their hands, clothing and feet. It is spread by direct contact with infected animals (cats, mink, ferrets, raccoons and wild cats) and their secretions (e.g. feces). As the virus is “hardy” it can survive in carpets, crevices and furniture for over a year.

The virus is more common in kittens before being vaccinated.

Although the virus can be killed by:

  • Sodium Hypochlorite (commonly called bleach) diluted 1 part bleach and 9 parts water
  • Disinfectants such as Virkon or Parvocide. These are both available at Aug. 2008 and of the two Virkon seems to be more easily obtainable


Intensive veterinary care. Important to diagnose the disease as early as possible. Measures include:

  • Fluid replacement (rehydration) to replace fluids lost by diarrhea and vomiting
  • Keep warm
  • Antibiotics
  • Blood transfusions occasionally
  • Supplemental nourishment

Kittens have a high death rate. Adults usually recover with prompt treatment. Adults can be carriers.


Vaccination is the most effective method.

  • first vaccination at 6-8 weeks
  • second vaccination at 10-12 weeks
  • annual booster vaccinations or bi-annually (there is post on cat vaccination recommendations)
  • for high risk kittens: vaccination at 6 weeks and every 2 weeks until 16 weeks
  • avoid introducing a kitten into a place where the disease has occurred until 6 months after the occurrence.

Other Names

  • Feline Panleukopenia (“Panleukopenia” means depression of the various kinds of white blood cells)
  • Feline Infectious Enteritis (FIE)
  • FPV
  • FIE

Photo – Feline distemper symptom : veterinarian’s surgery – published under a creative commons license – Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License

Feline distemper symptom – Sources:

  1. The Veterinarian’s Guide to Your Cats Symptoms – Drs Garvey, Hohenhaus, Houpt, Pinckney, Wallace and Elizabeth Randolph
  2. Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook – Drs Carlson and Giffin
  3. Wikepedia for definitions
  4. Veterinary Notes for Cat Owners – Dr Turner and Jean Turner VN

From Feline Distemper Symptoms to Cat Health Problems

Please comment here using either Facebook or WordPress (when available).
Michael Broad

Hi, I am 70-years-of-age at 2019. For 14 years before I retired at 57, I worked as a solicitor in general law specialising in family law. Before that I worked in a number of different jobs including professional photography. I have a longstanding girlfriend, Michelle. We like to walk in Richmond Park which is near my home because I love nature and the landscape (as well as cats and all animals).

Leave a Comment

Recent Posts

One cat and three dogs feed in perfect synchronization

This must be all about patient training and it sort of proves that cats can…

3 hours ago

Difference between Bambino and Sphynx

The difference between the Bambino and the Sphynx is that the former has short legs…

5 hours ago

Is it OK to feed feral cats during the coronavirus crisis?

Yes, of course it is. However it is a question worth asking if for no…

9 hours ago

How do I stop my cat from waking me up at 4 am?

Don't stop her. Let her do it and learn to enjoy it but read on...The…

12 hours ago

How do I stop my cat attacking me?

When in play this is a common problem because it is normal cat behaviour. Not…

14 hours ago

Cartoon Animals Complete List

This is a complete list of cartoon animals. They are listed alphabetically. This is a…

14 hours ago