Recently there was an outbreak of panleukopenia after a cat show. A small number of cats got sick. This is frightening, as this is a deadly virus. It is in the same class of viruses as canine parvo virus.
Yes, there is a vaccine. And, while no vaccine is perfect, there are critical factors that affect how vaccines work. First, and foremost are the maternal antibodies kittens receive from their mothers. There can be little protection in place or a lot. These antibodies interfere with a vaccine. Hence, if the kitten has a high level of maternal antibodies present in its immune system the vaccine may not protect the kitten from disease. And, when the antibodies run out, the kitten is susceptible.
The puzzle is- when do the maternal antibodies go away? That’s the million dollar question. Recent research indicates that in some cats it is after 20 weeks of age! This resulted in advisory committees making changes to their recommended vaccine schedules for kittens. After the recent outbreak, I reviewed the recommendations of both the American Animal Hospital Association and the American Association of Feline Practitioners along with a veterinary virologist on the Veterinary Information Network. I wanted to be SURE iCandy kittens and cats are protected.
So, what is my vaccination schedule these days for panleukopenia? iCandy RagaMuffins are vaccinated at 8, 12, 16, and 20 weeks. In some instances, I may add a 24 week vaccine for insurance. Most of these kittens will leave iCandy after their 12 week shots. It is up to their new family veterinarian to make recommendations at that point. The RagaMuffins that stay here will be boosted at 15 months ( same time as their rabies booster) and then every 3 years. As a veterinarian, I have seen cats die from this awful disease. I am determined my cats will not suffer this fate.