Could Your Cat Have Feline Distemper?

Feline distemper is a viral disease mostly occurring in unvaccinated kittens under the age of one. Older cats are less likely to contract this viral disease because of long term vaccine or natural immunity. Typical symptoms of feline distemper may include:

– Loss of appetite
– Vomiting
– Foul often bloody diarrhea
– Dehydration
– Lethargy

Unvaccinated kittens are at an increased risk of contracting distemper

The virus is actually more accurately classified as a parvo virus, and does not typically cause any changes in temperament in the cat as the name suggests. Most of the time feline distemper is contracted in unvaccinated kittens from contact of contaminated stools , or dirty, crowded stressful environments.

Diagnosis is usually based on clinical history of unvaccinated kittens with these signs and a stool test can also be done for the virus. There is no specific treatment for feline distemper virus, and is supportive consisting of IV fluids and antibiotics in the veterinary hospital environment for several days, and then slowly introducing bland diets and supplements such as probiotics like Fast Balance. While a certain percentage of kittens can be successfully treated, others can potentially die. Usually vaccination offers long term immunity to cats 14 weeks of age or older that is lifelong in most cases, making booster shots un-necessary in adult or senior cats.

Related Posts


  1. Vaccinating your newborn kitten is so important. At my veterinary clinic we stress the importance of kitten wellness programs to keep cats happy and healthy.

  2. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianNovember 3, 2011 at 8:20 pm

    Thank you for your comments. Newborn kittens are actually the most susceptible Too bad the early vaccinations dont really kick in due to maternal antibody interference, which does not wane until 10-14 weeks old.

Leave a Comment