Pretty much all cats and kittens are exposed to Feline Panleukopenia from the environment. Feline Panleukopenia is an incredibly resilient disease. While infected cats can spread the virus for a very limited amount of time when infected (only a couple of days worth of time), the virus can live for up to a year in the environment.
The virus comes from the cat’s urine, stool, and snot. When another cat comes into contact with these infected substances they are at risk for catching the virus. Additionally, if a flea has eaten off of an infected animal and then bites another cat, then that may pass on the virus as well.
Once the virus has latched on to an object, it is incredibly difficult to remove it. This means that cages, bedding, food bowls and water bowls, as well as the clothes of humans who handle infected cats, can still be able to transmit the virus for up to a year after coming into contact with an infected substance.
Worst yet, the virus is resistant to many disinfectants, and is incredibly difficult to destroy. This means that all cats may potentially catch this disease even though an infected cat has not been anywhere nearby in a long time.
Thankfully, as cats grow older, they develop stronger immune systems, as well as receive more vaccinations to help prevent catching it. On the other hand, kittens, cats with weakened immune system, and especially unvaccinated cats are the most susceptible for catching this disease. The younger the kitten the more likely it is that they will catch Feline Panleukopenia. In fact, this is when most cat deaths due to Feline Panleukopenia occur.
Once a cat has caught Feline Panleukopenia, it is at extreme risk as this virus is incredibly deadly. There is no cure, and so it is up to the cat’s natural immune system to fight it off. Supportive care is used to keep the cat hydrated and to provide proper nutrition while the cat fights for its life.