In August there was a concern that cats in downtown Hamilton may have been poisoned. The SPCA had received several calls about sick and dying cats in this area. Some of the cats were sent to the University of Guelph for autopsy. It was discovered that these cats had died from panleukopenia virus infection.
The panleukopenia virus affects rapidly dividing cells such as the intestinal and bone marrow cells. This results in a lowering of the white blood cell count (the body’s immune system) and often diarrhea and vomiting. Cats infected with the virus can rapidly become quite sick and dehydrated. There is no direct treatment for the virus, but if the cat receives aggressive supportive care they may be able to survive.
Panleukopenia is a tough virus that can live in the environment for years. There are two ways your cat can catch this virus. One is by having direct contact with an infected cat. The other is being exposed to virus that has been carried into the house on items such as clothing or shoes. This means even cats that live only indoors can still become infected.
Luckily there is a vaccine for panleukopenia that is very effective. It is part of the core vaccination given to every cat at Mountain Animal Hospital. It is important to keep your cats up-to-date on these vaccinations to prevent them from becoming ill from this virus and others.
Please give us a call at (905) 385-5354 if you have any concerns your cat may be ill or in need of a vaccination