Feline Infectious Enteritis

cat

This is a highly contagious disease which is sadly, often fatal, it is caused by infection with feline parvovirus, (FPV). Its primary effect is to decrease the number of white blood cells, so it is often known as feline panleukopenia. The virus attacks the gastrointestinal and immune system causing severe illness and often death, especially in kittens.

A pregnant cat infected with FPV can pass the virus onto her kittens in the womb so they may be born with brain damage resulting in balance and coordination problems (wobbly kitten syndrome), they usually learn to adapt well and live a happy life.

Feline Infectious Enteritis is spread through bodily fluids, faeces and fleas as well as contaminated items such as food bowls, bedding, floors, clothing and contact by hands. Cats infected with FPV can continue to excrete the virus for at least six weeks following infection.

The virus persists for extended periods on objects or in the environment, and must be destroyed with specific disinfectants.

Symptoms include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea (sometimes containing blood)
  • Fever (high temperature)
  • Lethargy (low energy)
  • Poor appetite
  • Stomach pain (hunching, growling, hiding away)

Contact your practice urgently if you suspect your cat has FPV, your cat’s chance of recovery is much higher if they receive immediate veterinary treatment.

There is no cure or specific treatment and often the symptoms progress very quickly so urgent veterinary treatment is vital.

Those cats that do recover from FPV tend to live a normal life, however, in some cases the intestines are so badly damaged by the infection that they never recover properly. These cats may have problems absorbing nutrition from their food and may not gain weight or have persistent diarrhoea.

The FPV vaccination is considered a "core" vaccine and is recommended for all domestic cats as even cats kept indoors can be infected from this disease. FPV is much better prevented than treated. Vaccination is highly effective at protecting your cat and the spread of this virus.