Contagious Feline Diseases

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PANLEUKOPENIA. Also known as Feline Distemper, this widespread disease is often fatal. The virus is readily spread from cat to cat via bodily secretions and remains viable for long periods of time in an infected environment. Clinical signs include fever, depression, loss of appetite, vomiting and diarrhea.

FELINE RHINOTRACHEITIS. This disease is the most severe and widespread upper respiratory disease in cats. In young, old or immune compromised cats this virus can result in death. Cats that do recover often become lifelong carriers of this Herpes virus exhibiting periodic episodes of clinical signs. Clinical signs may include fever, appetite loss, sneezing, tearing, purulent discharge from eyes and nose and open mouth breathing in the more severe cases. Rhino, as it is often called, can be spread via air borne dissemination and it is very contagious.

FELINE CALICIVIRUS. This virus also affects feline upper respiratory system. It accounts for about 40% of infectious respiratory disease in cats. The severity of clinical signs vary from mild to severe. The infected cat usually exhibits a fever and ulcers on the tongue that can be very painful and debilitating. Cats infected with this virus often become lifelong carriers with episodic recurrence of clinical signs.

CHLAMYDIOSIS. This disease, once known as Feline Pneumonitis, causes a relatively mild but persistent upper respiratory infection. It primarily affects the mucous membranes of the eyes resulting in inflamed tearing eyes but can also result in sneezing and nasal discharge.

FELINE LEUKEMIA. Currently researchers consider Feline Leukemia to be the #1 infectious disease causing death in cats. This virus attacks the immune system leaving the cat vulnerable to a host of secondary infections and cancer. The virus itself is thought to cause certain forms of cancer. Although infected cats can live a full lifetime most die within three years of clinical infection. Cats often show no clinical signs in the early stages of this disease, however, it can be readily detected with a screening blood test. This virus is transmitted cat to cat via blood and other body fluids. It is not viable for long periods of time in the environment. Thus, cats that live in unscreened multi-cat households or are allowed to roam free are at high risk for this disease.

RABIES. This virus attacks the nervous system resulting in a fatal disease. All mammals, including humans, are susceptible to infection. This disease is a major health hazard and in many areas vaccination is required by municipal law and for travel outside Canada. If required for travel the initial vaccine can be given at 12 weeks of age.

Baseline Feline Vaccine Protocol

Initial Vaccine Series Booster Interval Comments
8 wk 12 wk 16 wk 20 wk
Panleukopenia + + 12 months Highly recommended for all cats
Rhinotracheitis + + 12 months Highly recommended for all cats
Calicivirus + + 12 months Highly recommended for all cats
Chlamydiosis + + 12 months Based on lifestyle risk
Feline Leukemia + + 12 months Based on lifestyle risk




initially 12 then 36 months

Highly recommended for all cats