Our vets have recently seen 2 unvaccinated kittens from West London, which were being rescued, which developed diarrhoea, and dehydration. Both kittens died rapidly. This was due to a viral infection called Feline infectious enteritis. There is no specific treatment available for this virus, and many cases will die despite supportive treatment with antibiotics and fluids, with severe bloody diarrhoea and vomiting. The virus (called a parvovirus) is highly contagious, is resistant to many disinfectants, and can persist in the environment for long periods, possibly years in some cases. If infected cats survive they can continue to be infectious for at least 6 weeks, excreting the virus into the environment, and so spreading the disease.
There is a similar virus (parvovirus) that can affects dogs, with very similar symptoms, which is also usually rapidly fatal. Each virus is species specific, so the cat virus will not infect dogs and vice versa. The canine parvovirus can also persist for long periods in the environment, and is resistant to many disinfectants.
Vaccination will protect against both fatal diseases, and we recommend all dogs and cats are vaccinated regularly (even indoor cats), to keep them safe. With more unwanted, unvaccinated and potentially infectious cats on the streets we are concerned we may see more of this fatal but preventable disease.