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Cat Parvovirus Symptoms

Pet owners always worry when their beloved pets fall sick. However, some cases are more serious, such as when a cat suffers from parvovirus. Our vets in Concord discuss the impact of parvovirus on your cat's overall health, the common symptoms your cat may experience, and the best treatments to help your feline friend recover.

What is Parvo in cats? 

Parvo, also known as feline distemper or feline panleukopenia, is a serious condition in cats. Feline parvovirus causes the attack on cells in their intestines, leading to diarrhea, vomiting, and difficulty eating and drinking. The virus also attacks the bone marrow, leading to a shortage of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.

Kittens aged three to five months are most at risk of developing this condition. When puppies are born, they receive protection against the demise through antibodies from their mother's milk. However, this protection decreases as they grow older and wean from their mom.

Although parvovirus is common, it can be fatal for cats, particularly senior cats and those with underlying health conditions. Most cats will likely come into contact with the virus at some point in their life, so it's important to be aware of the symptoms and take preventive measures.

How Parvovirus Affects Cats

Parvovirus in cats is a disease that primarily impacts the stomach and small intestines. That's when the virus begins destroying the cat's gut barrier by attacking healthy cells and blocking the absorption of essential nutrients.

Parvo also attacks the bone marrow and lymphopoietic tissues in kittens, which play essential roles in your cat's immune system. The virus will often affect the heart.

How do cats get Parvo?

Most environments have widespread Parvo, and nearly every cat will encounter it during its lifetime. Young kittens, sick or unvaccinated cats, and even dogs are most susceptible to contracting this disease.

Cats can contract parvovirus through direct contact with an infected cat, contaminated objects, or exposure to infected bodily fluids. The virus spreads through oral and nasal routes and other secretions, including urine and feces, making close contact, shared litter boxes, food bowls, or grooming tools, and potential transmission sources.

The Risk Factors For Parvo

A cat fully vaccinated against this disease can protect her kittens during the first few weeks of their life.

However, as the kittens begin to wean, their immune systems weaken, and the young kittens become susceptible to the disease.

Vets urge pet parents to begin vaccinating their kittens against parvo at six weeks of age, when the kitten begins to wean and the antibodies from the mother are no longer available to protect them.

Your kitten will need all three available vaccines to be considered fully protected against parvovirus. Kittens will most likely catch parvo during the gap between weaning and complete vaccination.

What are the symptoms of Parvo in cats?

One of the main considerations with parvovirus is that cats will only begin to show the symptoms once they have been infected for some time. Here are some of the most common symptoms of parvovirus in cats:

  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Weakness
  • Watery nasal discharge
  • Fever in the early stage followed by low body temperature
  • Lethargy and depression
  • Inability to eat
  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting or frothing at the mouth
  • Dehydration

Not only are kittens super fragile, but this disease can also progress very quickly and lead to death if not caught right away. If you see the slightest sign of any of these symptoms, contact your nearest emergency vet immediately.

Treatment Options For Parvo in Cats

Parvovirus is a severe disease affecting kittens; unfortunately, there is no cure for it. However, your vet can help manage symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea with supportive treatments. It is crucial to ensure that your kitten is hydrated and well-nourished to aid in their recovery from the illness. Sadly, kittens that contract parvo have a low chance of survival.

Kittens with parvo have weakened immune systems, making them susceptible to secondary infections. Therefore, your vet will monitor your kitten's condition and prescribe antibiotics to combat any bacterial infections that may develop.

To increase your kitten's chances of survival, it is essential to take it to the vet within the first four days of showing symptoms.

How to Prevent Parvovirus in Cats

Never allow your kitten to spend time around cats that have not been fully vaccinated against parvovirus. Speak with your vet about the available options to help protect your feline friend.

Be sure to follow your vet's advice and have your kitten vaccinated against parvo, rabies, and other potentially serious conditions based on a kitten vaccination schedule for your area.

The Outcome of Cats With Parvovirus

Before the currently available vaccines, parvo was one of the leading causes of death in cats. While this is great news, it is still important to remember that the virus cannot be treated once your cat is infected.

Adult cats who get parvo have a better chance of surviving than kittens. Cats who receive veterinary care for their parvo have a better chance of surviving than those who do not. Overall, up to 90 percent of cats who get parvo and are not treated will die.

We strongly urge every pet owner to get their kittens and cats vaccinated and follow up with booster shots for the entirety of their cat's life. Preventive measures always outweigh the cost and worry associated with treatment once your cat is already deathly ill. Save them from the discomfort and high mortality rates associated with parvovirus.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. Please visit your vet for an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition.

If your cat is showing signs of parvo. Contact our Concord vets today or your nearest 24-hour emergency vet to have your cat treated immediately.

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Four Corners Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about caring for the health of your precious companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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