Panleukopenia - My Experience Treating

casportpony

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Disclaimer:
I am not a vet, and this is not veterinary advice, it's a summary of my trip to the vet, my experience, what I've learned about panleukopenia over the last month, and what I would do differently if I could go back in time or if it happens again.

What is Feline Panleukopenia
Feline panleukopenia (aka FP or panleuk) is a preventable highly contagious viral disease that affects cats. It is also called feline distemper, although it should not be compared to canine distemper. It is also known as feline parvo, due to the fact that it is caused by a parvovirus and shares similarities with canine parvo.

Panleukopenia is considered one of the deadliest cat diseases in the unvaccinated cat population. Source.


There is a vaccine for the feline panleukopenia virus. In the future, I plan on vaccinating.


How it Started:

On Sunday, November 12th, 2023, I noticed that our kitten was not feeling well, he was crying when straining to pee & poop, & not interested in his favorite foods, so I took his temperature, and it was 104.1° f (normal is 100.5° to 102.5°). Within a few hours, his temperature rose to 106.1° f, and he started vomiting, so I took him to the emergency vet. Once we were in the exam room, the vet tech came in, asked a bunch of questions, said she thought it could be panleukopenia, and tested him for that.

Before going to this vet, Mike read reviews and told me people were saying how expensive it was, like a minimum of $2000 a day if you left your animal there, which was not an option for us.

The vet came in and said the kitten tested positive for panleukopenia and that the prognosis was poor - even for kittens in a hospital setting receiving IV fluids and medications. I explained that leaving him there was not an option due to the cost.

She started listing all of the medications that he would need. In the interest of saving money, I told her that I had fenbendazole and toltrazuril. She asked how many mg/ml they were and came up with an at-home plan (shown below). She also gave me the "consider his quality of life" speech, which made me think there was no hope. :(

The Safeguard (fenbendazole) dose she recommended was 100 mg/kg, which is twice what Plumb's Veterinary Drug Handbook says.
I didn't see it then, but I see it now, she calculated the Baycox (toltrazuril) dose based on a 5 mg/ml product, not a 50 mg/ml product, so I ended up giving him a 10x dose. Baycox comes in two strengths, 2.5% & 5% (25 mg/ml & 50 mg/ml).
I did the math for the Safeguard (fenbendazole) & Baycox (toltrazuril), and the doses seemed high, so I asked the vet tech to double-check that. I asked "Do you really want me to give 100 mg per kilogram" and she said yes.

Kitten's weight: 1.82 kg
Kitten's age: 14-15 weeks

Vet's Treatment Plan
  • Antibiotic -0.12 ml Cefovecin/Convenia (80mg/ml) once - 5.3 mg/kg. The vet tech gave the shot.
  • Fluids - 40 ml lactated ringers subcutaneously every six hours - 22 ml/kg
  • Antiemetic - 0.12 ml Maropitant/Cerenia (10 mg/ml) - 0.66 mg/kg - subcutaneously once a day for five days.
  • De-wormer - 1.8 ml fenbendazole (100 mg/ml) orally for three consecutive days - 100 mg/kg
  • Anti-protozoal - 3.6 ml toltrazuril (5 mg/ml) orally once - 10 mg/kg
  • edited_2023-12-09 10_59_54-2023-11-23 07_58_43-DSCN0363.png
    cropped_DSCN0362.JPG
My Treatment Plan:
  • The vet's treatment plan as shown above.
  • Weigh at least once a day.
  • Force feed a little every two hours.
  • Keep isolated in a crate in a warm room.
  • Food & water available in crate.
As soon as I got home, I gave him his fluids and have been giving them ever since. Luckily, I have my own fluids, syringes, needles, fenbendazole, and toltrazuril, which probably saved me at least $200 (this was the most expensive vet I've been to - they wanted $140 to give 40 ml of subcutaneous fluids).

For the next several days, he had bloody, mucusy diarrhea, was not interested in eating, and was losing weight.

For food, I tried to entice him with many types of canned food, Gerber's baby food, KMR (kitten milk replacement), and his favorite, cooked chicken breast, but he was not interested. So I had to force-feed.

The vet gave no instructions on how much to force feed, so I started with 12 ml every two hours until I found a chart that says a kitten's stomach volume is 4% of its body weight. That seemed like a lot, so I went with 30 ml per feeding 4-6 times a day. In the beginning, I started force-feeding with a 6 ml lure-slip syringe, but the food kept getting stuck, so I switched to a 60 ml catheter-tipped syringe, which worked much better. Several websites mentioned that hypoglycemia could be a problem, so I added a little corn syrup to his food.

All was going well until Saturday the 18th when he started vomiting again. My vet was closed, and I did not want to shell out more $$$ for more anti-nausea medication (would have cost $193 for another office visit plus the medication, which was $72 for five shots), so I searched the web and found that cats can have Kaolin and pectin, and Petsmart had one labeled for dogs, so I got that. It has the exact same ingredients as the ones labeled for cats, so I gave him 0.6 ml and the vomiting stopped. It seemed to help his stool firm up, too.

November 20 - First firm poop, but still covered in some mucus. Gave vitamin B complex injection subcutaneously (0.1ml).
November 21 - Started giving lysine.
November 22 - He started showing interest in food, and his poop was looking better.
November 23 - Ravenous! Ate at least 225 grams on his own.
November 24 - Still ravenous. Ate 75 grams for breakfast.
November 25 - Started weaning off the subcutaneous fluids.
December 9 - Still ravenous. Eating dry food and his favorite wet food, Sheba® Kitten Paté - Salmon. Has to be salmon, he won't touch the chicken.
1702146699461.png


What I would do differently:
If I could go back in time I would have had him vaccinated. The $418 vet visit could vaccinate at least 100 cats!
Since the vet & the tech didn't think he would survive, I feel like they sent us home with an incomplete treatment plan. I had so many questions and spent many hours searching for answers. If this happens again, I will have more questions for the vet:
  • If he doesn't eat on his own, how often should I force-feed?
  • How much should I force-feed?
  • How much weight loss is acceptable?
  • What should I do if he vomits?
  • How long before he starts eating?
  • Once he starts eating and drinking, how do I wean him off the fluids?
  • Are there any vitamins, amino acids, or minerals that could help, and what are the doses
Well, that's all for now, and I hope someone finds this helpful.


References:
kitten bottle feeding and stomach capacity chart.pdf (maddiesfund.org)
Panleukopenia – Fostering Cats
Miracle’s Story: Panleukopenia and Upper Respiratory Infection – Fostering Cats
How to Give Vitamin B Complex Injections – Fostering Cats
Treating Feline Panleukopenia – Fostering Cats
Identifying Feline Panleukopenia Symptoms – Fostering Cats
Survivability of Feline Panleukopenia – Fostering Cats
What is Feline Panleukopenia? – Fostering Cats
How to Clean and Disinfect after Panleukopenia – Fostering Cats
Using Tamiflu to Treat Feline Panleukopenia – Fostering Cats
How to Disinfect Everything After Panleukopenia – Fostering Cats
Resources on Panleukopenia Cleaning – Fostering Cats
How Long is a Cat/Kitten Positive for Panleukopenia? – Fostering Cats
When Should You Foster Again After Panleukopenia? – Fostering Cats
Feline panleukopenia | American Veterinary Medical Association (avma.org)
Successful Treatment of Feline Panleukopenia: A Guideline For Rescuers and Veterinarians, Part I | SciTechnol
Feline Panleukopenia: New Challenges of an Old Disease - WSAVA 2016 Congress - VIN
Feline Panleukopenia - Generalized Conditions - Merck Veterinary Manual (merckvetmanual.com)
Feline Panleukopenia Virus in Cats (Feline Distemper) | PetMD
Panleukopenia Test for Cats - Feline Parvo Rapid Home Testing Kit (takeandtest.com)
baxter iv solutions (atlanticmedsupply.com)
High Potency Vitamin B Complex Injection, 100 mL | VetDepot.com
Vitamin B-12 for Animal Use Generic (brand may vary) - Safe.Pharmacy|Vitamins | Livestock Rx | Farm (valleyvet.com)
Tanya's Comprehensive Guide to Feline Chronic Kidney Disease - B Vitamins, Including Vitamin B12 (Methylcobalamin) (felinecrf.org)
Thiamine Deficiency in Cats Signs and Best Supplements | Pet Care Advisors


Great videos!
 

Antonio65

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Thanks so much for this incredible post, I'm sure it'll be useful to lots of people.
Hopefully, people will read and memorize this post so to be promptly active when needed.

One question only:
Does a vaccine really cost as little as $4 in the US?
I live in a country where vet bills are notoriously inexpensive, but I never heard of a vaccine shot (RCP vaccine) at less than €25.
 
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casportpony

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Thanks so much for this incredible post, I'm sure it'll be useful to lots of people.
Hopefully, people will read and memorize this post so to be promptly active when needed.
You're welcome. Hopefully no one needs it, but if they do, they can use it as a guide.
One question only:
Does a vaccine really cost as little as $4 in the US?
I live in a country where vet bills are notoriously inexpensive, but I never heard of a vaccine shot (RCP vaccine) at less than €25.
We bought a pack of 25 for $99 plus shipping:
TruFel HCP+Ch Cat Vaccine Elanco Animal Health - Cat Vaccines | Vaccines | Pet (valleyvet.com)
1702155845870.png

Our local low-cost clinic charges this:
Zip code of 95020 was used:
Pet Healthcare Services & Pricing
1702155727009.png


Where I live, we cannot legally buy the rabies vaccine.
 
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casportpony

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Where I live (Italy) I'm not sure that someone who isn't a doctor (vet or human) can access any kind vaccine.
Most countries in Europe are like that I think.
 
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