Cat owners across Australia are being urged to vaccinate their pets against a rare and potentially deadly virus outbreak.

The highly-contagious feline panleukopenia virus, commonly referred to as feline distemper, has been confirmed in a handful of stray kittens in Victoria, prompting the RSPCA to urge cat owners to keep their pets’ vaccinations up to date.

“The virus is not contagious to humans or any other animals, however, it can be spread to other cats through the clothing and shoes of handlers or owners of infected animals,” RSPCA Victoria said in a statement on Sunday.

Australian Veterinary Association President Dr Paula Parker said routine vaccination of cats and kittens had seen the virus become an uncommon disease in recent years.

“Vaccination provides high immunity, which is why these recent confirmed cases of panleukopenia are cause for concern – and action,” Dr Parker told Yahoo7 in a statement.

“We suggest all cat owners contact their veterinarian to check the status of their cat’s vaccination. Vaccines prevent your cat from becoming ill and help to stop the spread of disease.”

Are you a cat or dog person?

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  • It’s scary to think this has come back again. I’m more of a dog person in my household but I do love cats as well.


  • Great and timely warning – you wouldn’t want your cat to be inadvertently infected.


  • I am both. We’ve had a few of both – always neutered. They have all been “rescue pets”.
    One saying about cats: I’ll come when you call if I want to.
    Dogs show more loyalty and affection than most cats do. Both know how to make their feelings known. They can both change the expression on their faces.


  • I am more of a cat person. Thanks for the update.


  • I’m a dog person although I grew up with many cats as pets. My concern is that people aren’t registering their pets, let alone vaccinating them. We do all the right things, and I had initially assumed everyone else does… only to learn that is not the case at all.


  • We have both and yes all their health records are up to date. We learnt the hard way when a home we owned had soil that harboured a disease and lost puppies too young to be vaccinated.


  • Goodness, thanks for sharing this information.


  • We rent our house and can’t have a cat or dog.


  • I wish they would bring the cost of vaccinations down.
    I know, I know… you should be able to support a pet if u have one but at the same time I don’t think any one realises how much a pet actually costs.
    The reason these viruses are re-emerging is because people can no longer afford to maintain vaccinations.


  • This is such a deadly virus and I can’t believe it has re-emerged after laying virtually dormant in Australia for nigh on 4 decades. Fortunately, my precious feline has routine vaccines and I urge all cat owners to have their pet/s checked. Feline panleukopenia is highly contagious, difficult to control and the symptoms are both horrid and often fatal.


  • I don’t have a cat, just a dog. Very important to keep vaccinations up-to-date indeed!!


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