Feline Distemper Symptoms

Feline distemper symptoms can be difficult to spot, as many of them are also common symptoms of other cat illnesses.

The symptoms are variable and often depend on the age of the cat and its ability to fight the infection.

Kittens usually suffer the most severe form of the disease.

Feline / cat distemper is one of the most severe and serious forms of cat enteritis. It's also sometimes called feline panleukopenia or feline infectious enteritis (FIE).

The disease is caused by a virus that attacks the cat's gut wall and white blood cells, resulting in often severe digestive system problems and a reduction in the cat's ability to fight infections.

Sometimes in kittens, the disease is so rapid and severe, they can die before their owner even notices there's anything wrong.

The main symptoms of feline distemper are listed below.

Feline Distemper Symptoms

Initial symptoms include:

All of the above symptoms are often associated with other cat health problems, and owners may not recognize them as being those of cat distemper.Owners often mistakenly think their cat has been poisoned.

Cats displaying these symptoms should be taken to the vet without delay - whatever the cause, it will need prompt treatment. Later symptoms include:

  • Persistent diarrhea, often yellow, watery and blood streaked

  • Vomiting blood

  • Development of infections which the cat can't fight off because its immune system is so depleted

Death usually occurs as a result of dehydration and / or severe infection. In the less severe form, the cat may show mild or even no signs. In this case, the cat successfully fights the infection.

Symptoms In Kittens Infected In The Womb

If a kitten is infected with the cat distemper virus in the womb, it may develop cerebellar hypoplasia. The cat's cerebellum, which is the part of the brain that controls movement and co-ordination, is damaged.

Cats with this disease display jerky, un-coordinated movements and tremors, but they can still live a perfectly happy, healthy life. The video below says it far better than I can in words...

The sooner feline distemper symptoms are recognized and treated, the better the cat's chances of survival. These links provide more information on cat distemper and other forms of cat enteritis.

Go from feline distemper symptoms page to cat illnesses page

Go to Cat Behavior explained home page