Hank’s a survivor!!! I’m a survivor. I’m not gonna give up. I don’t know the words. She’s purring, she likes the song. On that note…hi, everyone! So this is Hank, and she just survived panleukopenia. One of the most deadly viruses that a kitten can get. So I wanted to make a video all about this virus to tell you what you can do to decrease the risk of panleukopenia in kittens, and what to do when it does occur. So, a fair warning: if you’re looking for a super cute video about kittens, It is not this. It’s not gonna be a super fun video, but it’s one that I hope can save a lot of lives, if there are people watching who are looking for this information. Okay, let’s begin. Panleukopenia is a disease caused by the feline parvo virus, It’s a horrible virus that primarily impacts immunocompromised cats, which is why it is most common in little kittens. This virus wreaks havoc through the GI tract. It can cause rapid decline in health. Panleukopenia kittens often do not survive the illness, and can die from dehydration, anemia, sepsis or other secondary conditions. But don’t give up hope! If you have a kitten that tests positive for panleukopenia, this is your chance to shine. I’m gonna teach you everything I know about how to be a panleukopenia super fighter! Kittens can survive panleukopenia, especially if it’s caught early, and if caregivers quickly put a plan of action into place for treatment, supportive care, quarantine, and sanitizing. That means the first step to fighting panleukopenia is monitoring your kittens for all of the signs and symptoms. So you can ensure that if any of these symptoms start to arise, you can act fast before it’s too late. Primary signs of panleukopenia are: lethargy, diarrhea, vomiting, fever, muscle wasting, and anorexia. You might notice that the kitten starts looking glassy eyed, listless, weak, or gaunt, like their face or limbs have lost their muscle mass. If you notice any of these signs, it’s important that you quickly get a panleukopenia test to rule out the virus. A Panleuk test will typically be conducted using the same test as the canine parvovirus. It’s a fecal based test that tells you if the kitten has the antigen in their body. On this test, C stands for control and the T stands for test. If both lines are visible after 10 minutes, that’s how I know the kitten has tested positive for Panleuk. If the kitten tests positive, you’re going to need to buckle in and commit to doing everything you can to get them through. This can mean five to seven days of intensive care, so get ready for a serious commitment if you’re going to take this on. Hopefully, by the end of the week, you’ll be celebrating your success. In this video, I’m going to share 9 tips for working with panleukopenia kittens. Please note that you do need to work with a veterinarian, who can diagnose and help come up with a treatment plan for your panleukopenia kitten. I’m not a veterinarian, I’m just sharing this information from my own experience to help others who are going through the same thing. So here are the 9 things you need to know when caring for a panleukopenia kitten. Number 1. First things first, you need to understand how to contain the virus. This means you’ll need to quarantine the kitten from other animals in the home, and keep them somewhere that their contact with outside objects is limited. Don’t panic about your personal pets. Healthy adult cats who have been vaccinated are pretty unlikely to get panleukopenia virus. But you still want to keep them separate from the kitten. Panleukopenia is extremely hardy, and it can live in the environment for a year or even longer. So you do not want panleukopenia kittens walking around on your carpet or furniture, or touching anything that can’t be thrown away or fully sanitized. I recommend using a metal kennel, since that can be bleached. Or if you only have a playpen, that’s okay too, as long as you can thoroughly sanitize it, or just toss it afterwards. Ideally you want to use gloves every time you’re working with the kitten, and think about everything you’re touching while you’re working with them. Most of us don’t keep disposable gowns at home, but you can put on a large old t-shirt that you can wear as a smock every time you work with them. This will help cut down on spreading the disease through your clothing. You really want to limit the ability of the virus to spread through your home. This also means not stepping inside the kitten space unless you have disposable booties or special socks or shoes that are for that space only. You want to be careful about any brooms or cleaning tools you’re using in that space, and not spread them into the rest of your home. And of course you want to be careful about your hands. Rigorous hand-washing with soap is great, but gloves are better. Also, note that hand sanitizer does not kill panleukopenia, hand-washing is better. The best way to stop the spread of the virus is to limit the direct contact between it and anything else in your home. Number two: You want to carefully monitor the kitten at least every three to four hours. I cannot over-stress the importance of making a monitoring chart. You really want to be able to monitor the kitten at all times, and writing it down is gonna help you track any changes and note how she’s responding to different aspects of treatment. Make a chart that includes the time, weight, temperature, her poop, her appetite, disposition, and treatment notes. Is she lethargic, active, asleep, listless? What about her weight? Is she gaining or losing weight? Temperature is something you only need to monitor if you’re really concerned about it, since taking their temperature can be a little bit traumatic to them. But it’s good to do with Panleuk kittens at least one to two times a day, since their temperature can drastically rise or fall with this virus. You also definitely want to note what their stool looks like. In Hank’s case it ranged dramatically, from white liquid all the way to dark black tar. It sounds gross, but the stool tells the story of what’s going on inside the body, and how they’re responding to the different things you’re doing. So you really want to write that down so that you can track it. Note if the kitten has any nausea and what her appetite is like. Did she lap up food on her own? Did she refuse to eat at all? Is there a specific thing that she is willing or not willing to eat? Of course, note any treatment or medication that you gave to them at that time. Keep the chart updated and try to really understand where the kitten is. The chart tells a story, and the better you can understand it, the faster you can help change the story’s course. Okay, number three: Let’s start talking about supportive care and fluid therapy. Surviving panleukopenia is all about helping the kitten survive long enough for the virus to pass. One thing you must do to help them survive is rigorous fluid therapy. Dehydration is one of the common ways that kittens die due to panleukopenia. For this reason, I give subcutaneous fluids every eight to ten hours to keep the kitten hydrated. Every vet and every rescuer has a different way they dose their fluids, but for a kitten that has panleukopenia I typically do about 10cc per pound. Hank was about a pound while she was battling this; she got about 10 cc of fluids every eight hours. This is a skill set you can learn to do at home, but it’s best learned in person with a veterinary professional. So talk to your vet, or your rescue coordinator about learning this skill, it’s really gonna help. Number four: you want to get the kitten on an antibiotic. Getting an antibiotic onboard right away will help set up the body’s defense system. Hank was on Clavamox two times a day. But you’ll want to talk to a vet about getting a prescription that’s right for your kitten. This is so important because the body is gonna be extremely vulnerable to bacterial infection. So getting an antibiotic on board right away is gonna give them a fighting chance. Number five: you need to keep the kitten’s blood sugar up and make sure that they’re getting frequent feeding. Kittens may lose their appetite or fail to eat regularly while they’re going through panleukopenia. So you ideally want to make sure that some amount of food is getting into their body every two to four hours. Try different things, whatever is palatable to them. If they refuse wet food, try formula. If they refuse formula, try baby food. When Hank was going through her battle with panleuk, she only accepted a specific kind of formula mixed with a specific kind of wet food. So I tried a bunch of different things until I found something that worked for her. I recommend replacing the water content of your formula or food with pedialyte. Pedialyte’s gonna help keep the kitten hydrated and provide essential electrolytes. If the kitten doesn’t want to eat, you can try to get them to lap some up off a spoon or a gloved finger. In extreme cases, tube feeding can be necessary, but this comes with its own risks, and shouldn’t be done unless you’re trained and confident in tube feeding. Number six: you want to think about the kitten’s gut environment. One of the most deadly things about panleukopenia is that it tears at the epithelial lining of the gut, so it can cause ulceration, necrotizing of the tissue and even sepsis. The gut is so vulnerable at this time, so you want to do everything you can to make it a healthy environment. One thing you can do with the food is add small amounts of various over-the-counter supplements, such as probiotics, or other products recommended by your vet. With Hank, I was adding a pinch of unflavored Metamucil to her slurry, which helps firm up her stool and decrease diarrhea. I also like using a probiotic such as Bene-Bac or Proviable, which can help create a healthier GI environment. Kittens with severe ulceration of the gut can also be given a small amount of Pepcid AC. With Hank, who was about 1 pound, I gave her about 1/4 of a 10 milligram strength tablet twice per day while she was symptomatic. Number 7: vitamin supplements. B12 is a supplement that’s great for any sick animal. It can boost their energy and appetite. I generally give a small shot of B12 to any kitten who’s feeling unwell. I just give 0.1ccs per kitten. It’s water soluble, so excess amounts just exit the kittens body through their urine. If the kitten has a high amount of blood in the stool, you might also be concerned with anemia from blood loss. So an iron supplement can be helpful as well. For Hank, and for a lot of my kittens, I use a product called Hi-Vite, which is just a multivitamin that you can add to their food. Number 8: A vital measure that I recommend for panleukopenia kittens is to give them plasma. Plasma is a blood product that you’ll need to get from a donor cat. Some vets might not work with plasma, But some might keep it on hand or might be able to spin it from a donor cat, maybe even your cat. Plasma is a component of blood that contains some really important elements, including essential proteins, clotting factors, and immunoglobulins, which boost the immune system and help the kitten fight the disease. This is so important because your kitten might have no antibodies to fight the disease, so plasma can give them a lot of support and boost their immunity. Of course, it’s important to find a really good vet that’s comfortable using plasma, because there’s always a risk when you’re using blood products. And Number 9. My final tip is about sanitizing. Throughout this process you’ll want to be quarantining the kitten and sanitizing as much as possible. But after, you’ll need to do a major deep clean and sanitizing process in order to prevent this from happening again. The good news is that most kittens who survive panleukopenia will be immune for life. The bad news is that even though the kitten might be protected, the virus can still linger in the environment for a long time and be contagious to other animals. Anything that the kitten touched should either be thrown away or sanitized using a product that’s known to kill panleukopenia. Household bleach is a product that does kill panleukopenia, but it becomes inactivated by organic material. So it works best for metal surfaces, like your kennel or crate. If you’re using bleach make it fresh at a 1 to 32 ratio. For wood floors, carpet, plastic, and other porous surfaces, you’ll want to use something like Rescue, which performs better than bleach and can be safely used in a carpet cleaner. Ideally, you should toss anything that you’re not sure you can properly sanitize. Your laundry can be done using bleach, hot water, and a hot dryer, but it’s not totally guaranteed to kill the virus. In many cases, I feel that it’s better to just toss the bedding. So there you have it. I hope that this lengthy guide helps you and your kitten survive panleukopenia. Please know that if a kitten does pass away in your care, it’s normal to have feelings of grief and sorrow. It is important to know that many kittens will not survive panleukopenia, and that giving them a fighting chance is a great gift, even if they don’t make it. While nothing can make these situations better, my personal way of dealing with it is two things: one: to take a small break to grieve and honor the kittens life, and two: to try to learn as much as I can from the experience so that I can be a better advocate in the future. You learn so much from these experiences, and it helps you bring more tools to the table next time. So, no matter what happens, it’s important that you don’t give up and that you keep on fighting for the little guys. After all, those who have dealt with panleukopenia are those who are best suited to deal with it in the future. So I want to thank you if you’ve made it this far for being a superhero for kittens now and for years to come. Good job, Hankie!