What Is a Distemper Shot for Cats?

Feline distemper is a highly contagious viral disease that is especially harmful to young kittens, who can die without warning from the infection. Because the virus that causes distemper is so widespread in the environment, the distemper vaccine is recommended for all catseven those who only live indoors. And its particularly important to protect young kittens as soon as its safe to do so, as theyre the most vulnerable to serious illness.

The AVMA says infected cats release the feline panleukopenia virus in their urine, poop, and nasal secretions. The Merck Veterinary Manual explains that most infected cats dont show any signs.

Fever Lethargy Loss of appetite Vomiting Diarrhea Dehydration Low white blood cell count (called leukopeniawhere the virus gets its name). If you have an adult cat, the proper time to vaccinate depends on variables like her age, health, and risk of infection. Lethargy is typically a positive sign because it means the body is really being stimulated to make antibodies against the disease-causing organism, he explains.

While lethargy and even soreness at the injection site (much like you might feel after a flu shot) arent a cause of concern, allergic reactions are.

Is a distemper shot necessary for cats?

Because the virus that causes distemper is so widespread in the environment, the distemper vaccine is recommended for all cats —even those who only live indoors. And it’s particularly important to protect young kittens as soon as it’s safe to do so, as they’re the most vulnerable to serious illness.

Why do indoor cats need distemper shots?

Vaccination against the feline distemper complex is important because these diseases can be deadly. These are hardy viruses that can be brought into the home on inanimate objects like clothes or shoes.

What are the first signs of distemper in cats?

Early symptoms of feline distemper infection are lethargy and loss of appetite then rapid progression to severe, sometimes bloody diarrhea and vomiting. These signs are very similar to other diseases, some serious, some not so serious.

Feline distemper, also known as feline panleukopenia, is caused by an extremely contagious and potentially fatal virus called feline parvovirus (FPV). Feline parvovirus is different than canine parvovirus and only causes disease in cats. Feline distemper is spread through any type of body fluid but most commonly by accidental ingestions of feces. Litterboxes, food bowls, and bedding of infected cats all have potential to infect healthy cats.

Modified live vaccines should not be used in pregnant cats because it can cause neurologic birth defects, such as those that occur with the real version of the virus.

Feline rhinotrachetis and calicivirus (feline herpes virus type I) are responsible for 80-90% of infectious feline upper respiratory tract diseases. Most cats are exposed to either or both of these viruses at some time in their lives. Once infected, many cats never completely rid themselves of virus. These “carrier” cats either continuously or intermittently shed the organisms for long periods of time — perhaps for life — and serve as a major source of infection to other cats. The currently available vaccines will minimize the severity of upper respiratory infections, although none will prevent disease in all situations. Vaccination is highly recommended for all cats.

It infects and kills cells that are rapidly dividing, such as those in the bone marrow, intestines, and the developing fetus. The first visible signs an owner might notice include generalized depression, loss of appetite, high fever, lethargy, vomiting, severe diarrhea, nasal discharge, and dehydration.

FP may be suspected based on a history of exposure to an infected cat, lack of vaccination, and the visible signs of illness. Once a cat is diagnosed with FP, treatment may be required to correct dehydration, provide nutrients, and prevent secondary infection. Adult vaccination schedules vary with the age and health of the cat, as well as the risk of FP in the area.

Distemper is an old-fashioned general term thats used to describe a serious infectious disease of dogs and cats that causes fever along with respiratory, gastrointestinal, and neurological symptoms.

The cost depends on your location and your choice of veterinarian: you should phone around your local area to discover the range of prices in the market place. All kittens and cats should receive initial primary courses of vaccination against Feline Distemper (Panleukopenia) because the viral particles are excreted from ill animals, and they can live in the environment for a protracted period of months or years.

This means that there is a risk of a human bringing the virus back to the house with them, which is why a basic level of protection is important for all cats, even if living indoors. In general, the primary series of vaccinations against FVRCP (which includes Feline Distemper) should be given to all kittens and cats. Other non-core vaccines that you may wish to discuss with your vet include Bordetella, Chlamydia, FIV and Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP).

Dr Pete Wedderburn qualified as a vet from Edinburgh in 1985 and has run his own 4-veterinarian companion animal practice in County Wicklow, Ireland, since 1991. Pete is well known as a media veterinarian with regular national tv, radio and newspaper slots, including a weekly column in the Daily Telegraph since 2007.

What Is Feline Distemper?

Feline distemper (also called feline panleukopenia, feline infectious enteritis, and feline parvo) is a disease caused by the feline panleukopenia virus. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the virus kills rapidly growing and dividing cells in the body, like those found in the bone marrow, lymph nodes, intestinal lining, and developing fetuses.

How Do Cats Get Distemper?

The AVMA says infected cats release the feline panleukopenia virus in their urine, poop, and nasal secretions. Unvaccinated cats who come in contact with these substances—either directly or through an object harboring the virus, such as bedding, food bowls, litter boxes, and the hands and clothing of people who’ve interacted with infected cats—can become infected with the virus. It can also be spread from a pregnant cat to her developing fetus via the placenta.Unfortunately, the virus is particularly difficult to get rid of and can survive in the environment for up to a year. As a result, virtually all cats and kittens are exposed to it at some point in their lives. People, however, are not at risk of infection.

Feline Distemper Vaccine

Feline distemper vaccine (feline distemper shot) is manufactured as a modified live virus vaccine or a killed adjuvant vaccine. Both are effective, although the modified live version works more quickly. Most distemper vaccines are combined with other types of vaccines in the same vial to allow for fewer injections. FVRCP is a common such combination vaccine which includes feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, and panleukopenia (i.e. feline distemper or feline parvovirus). FVRCP vaccines may also be called 3-in-1 vaccines or 3-way vaccines.

Do indoor cats need distemper shots?

The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) considers the distemper vaccine a core or necessary vaccine for all cats. This is probably because of how severe the infection is and how easily contagious it can be. Feline distemper can hang around the environment for a long time and can be easily carried from one place to another such as on your shoes or clothing.AAFP’s recommendation is to begin vaccinating a kitten for distemper as early as six weeks of age, boostering or repeating the vaccine every three to four weeks until the kitten is sixteen weeks of age, then boostering again one year from the last booster. After that, an adult cat should be boostered for distemper every one to three years. If the kitten series of boosters is missed, the cat needs two distemper vaccines, three to four weeks apart, then another booster one year later. Continue boostering every one to three years for the rest of the cat’s life.

What is the Distemper Vaccine for Cats?

The vaccine for Feline Distemper (Panleukopenia) is included in the standard combination vaccine that’s given to all kittens, otherwise known as the FVRCP vaccine.
This vaccine includes Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (caused by Feline Herpesvirus) and Feline Calicivirus, upper respiratory infections are known generally as “cat flu”, whose signs include sneezing and nasal discharge. These are all known as core vaccines, meaning that vaccinating all cats against these diseases is recommended under the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) and American Association of Feline Practitioners feline vaccination guidelines.

Distemper Vaccine Side Effects

Side effects to Feline Distemper (Panleukopenia) vaccination are rare and usually very minor. They include transient episodes of dullness, with mild fever.Occasionally, there may be minor swelling and discomfort at the injection site. As with any injected product, allergic anaphylactic vaccine reactions can occur, with more serious signs. This reaction, however, is extremely rare. As a veterinarian qualified for over thirty years, I have never witnessed this after a cat vaccination against Panleukopenia.

Do indoor cats need a distemper shot?

All kittens and cats should receive initial primary courses of vaccination against Feline Distemper (Panleukopenia) because the viral particles are excreted from ill animals, and they can live in the environment for a protracted period of months or years. This means that there is a risk of a human bringing the virus back to the house with them, which is why a basic level of protection is important for all cats, even if living indoors.

Can cats get distemper after being vaccinated?

Vaccination against feline distemper (panleukopenia) provides solid long lasting immunity against the disease, so barring exceptionally unusual vaccine failure, your cat will be fully protected against the disease.

What vaccinations do indoor cats need?

Cat owners should discuss their own cats‘ vaccine needs with their own DVM veterinarian, so that any specific risk of exposure to viruses can be identified and discussed. In general, the primary series of vaccinations against FVRCP (which includes Feline Distemper) should be given to all kittens and cats. Indoor adult cats may be given booster vaccinations every three years to maintain minimal immunity. Cats that go outside, mingling with other cats, or cats that go to boarding kennels or catteries, or to cat shows, may be given an annual booster vaccination, but again, this is a topic for discussion with your own vet.Rabies vaccine may need to be given, depending on legislation in your part of the world, and depending on travel plans that you may have for yourself and your cat. Rabies is considered to be a core vaccine in the United States.Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) vaccination should be discussed with your vet, but this illness cannot generally be passed on indirectly in the same way as other viruses, so may not be needed: this is regarded as a non-core vaccine.Other non-core vaccines that you may wish to discuss with your vet include Bordetella, Chlamydia, FIV and Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP).