VCA Animal Hospitals

What is feline panleukopenia?

Published: Jul 20, 2012

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Even those with little medical knowledge know white blood cells play a large role in the body's natural defenses and immunities. This is why it can be devastating when a disease lowers the count of white blood cells. Unfortunately, feline panleukopenia in cats attacks these healthy white blood cells and lowers a cat's ability to fight infection and diseases.

Feline panleukopenia virus (FPLV) is a virus that belongs to the parvovirus family and is similar to the virus which causes parvovirus in dogs.  Parvovirus in dogs is not contagious to cats, but much like other forms of parvovirus, FPLV is transmitted through the feces of a cat already infected with the disease. While this is more of a major issue for dogs, who are more prone to eating or coming into contact with feces than cats, it does happen.  FPLV may also live in water or on clothing and may be additional sources of infection for cats.

A cat infected by FPLV will likely display general listlessness, signs of dehydration, vomiting and diarrhea.  Affected cats may show signs of shock and might even collapse.  Pet owners should bring their cat to a veterinary hospital right away if these signs develop.

By severely lowering the white blood cell count, FPLV makes cats extremely susceptible to other diseases and infections. Conditions that would not normally affect a cat may soon become life-threatening. Many do not realize the body is actually fighting off infections all the time, but in many cases white blood cells are enough to combat infections without medication. With the white blood cells lowered due to FPLV, the feline's defenses are down.

FPLV is a highly-resistant virus and is difficult to treat once it is present. The cat will likely need intensive care to ensure it is not afflicted by other infections while the condition runs its course.

Fortunately, there are cat vaccinations for FPLV, making its occurrence limited mainly to kittens and strays who do not receive proper medical care. The vaccine should be included in the kitten's booster shots that a veterinarian will give during the first few months of life. It is important the animal gets two booster shots during this time so the FPLV vaccine is not blocked by the kitten's natural antibodies passed on by its mother.


General Practice

We have over 540 animal hospitals in 41 states that are staffed by more than 2,000 fully qualified, dedicated and compassionate veterinarians, with more than 200 being board-certified specialists. The nationwide VCA family of general practice hospitals give your pet the very best in medical care, providing a full range of general medical and surgical services as well as specialized treatments*: Wellness, Spay/neuter, Advanced diagnostic services (MRI/CT Scan), Internal medicine, Oncology, Ophthalmology, Dermatology, Cardiology, Neurology, Boarding, Grooming

*services may vary by location.

Our family of pet hospitals stands out by delivering the greatest resources in order provide the highest quality care available for your pets. By maintaining the highest standards of pet health care available anywhere, we emphasize prevention as well as healing. We provide continuing education programs to our doctors and staff and promote the open exchange of professional knowledge and expertise. And finally, we have established a consistent program of procedures and techniques, proven to be the most effective in keeping pets healthy.

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Specialty Care

Sometimes sick or injured pets need the care of a veterinary medical specialist. When that happens, VCA specialty hospitals work closely with the general practitioner veterinarians who refer cases to us in order to provide seamless veterinary care to your pet. When your pet is facing any kind of serious illness or injury, our specialty referral hospitals will provide the compassionate and expert care your beloved pet needs.

Our goal is to make sure that when you and your pet are in need that you have access to board certified specialists who are up to date on the very latest developments in their field. In our state of the art hospitals, our specialists also have access to the most sophisticated diagnostic and treatment tools and techniques from ultrasonography and endoscopy to CAT scans and even MRI.

We have twenty-eight specialty hospitals across the US so there may be one near you. Our specialized services include: cardiology, critical care, dentistry, dermatology, internal medicine, neurology, oncology, ophthalmology, radiology and surgery.

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Emergency Care

In case of emergency, please call us immediately. If it is after hours, check with a local animal hospital emergency clinic.