If you have a cat, there’s a chance you’ve heard of parvo. Parvo is a virus that can affect dogs and puppies, but did you know it can also affect cats? While it’s not as common in felines as in canines, it’s still something to be aware of. So, what is parvo in cats, and is it curable? Here are some important facts you should know.
What Is Parvo in Cats?
Cat parvovirus is also called feline parvovirus (FPV) or panleukopenia. It’s a highly contagious virus that can cause severe illness, particularly in kittens. The virus attacks the gastrointestinal tract and can lead to dehydration, vomiting, and diarrhea. In severe cases, it can be fatal.
The virus is spread through contact with infected feces. This can happen when an infected cat uses the litter box or if an infected animal comes into contact with cats through close contact or sharing food and water bowls. Kittens are particularly susceptible to the virus since they have not yet been vaccinated against it, and their immune systems are not yet fully developed.
Contrary to most beliefs, FPV is not airborne or cannot be transmitted by sneezing or coughing. The virus is very stable in the environment and can live in contaminated areas for long periods of time. This means that even if an infected animal is no longer present, the virus can still be spread to other animals.
Symptoms of Cat Parvovirus
Symptoms of cat parvovirus typically appear 3-10 days after exposure. The most common symptoms include:
- Diarrhea (often bloody)
- Loss of appetite
These symptoms can quickly lead to severe dehydration, which can be fatal. Kittens are particularly vulnerable to the virus and may die within 48 hours of showing symptoms. If you think your cat may have parvo, it’s essential to seek veterinary care immediately.
Is Cat Parvo Curable?
The good news is that FPV is curable. However, treatment must be started early to be effective. Treatment will typically involve fluids and antibiotics to help fight the infection and prevent dehydration. In severe cases, hospitalization may be necessary.
The following are the most common treatments for cat parvo:
- Fluids: Dehydration is one of the most common and dangerous complications of FPV. Intravenous (IV) fluids are often necessary to rehydrate an infected cat and prevent further complications.
- Antibiotics: Antibiotics may also be prescribed to help fight the infection and prevent secondary infections.
- Hospitalization: In severe cases, hospitalization may be necessary. This will ensure that your cat receives around-the-clock care and can be closely monitored for dehydration or other complications.
Cat parvovirus can be expensive to treat, so make sure your cat is up-to-date on its vaccinations. Even with vaccines, there is still a small risk of infection, but it’s much lower than the risk for unvaccinated cats.
That is why many pet owners opt to get their dogs or cats with a wellness care plan. This is a type of insurance policy that helps pet owners budget for routine and unexpected veterinary care. Visit this page for more info about how it works.
Prevention Is Key
As with any virus, prevention is key. The best way protection for your cat from FPV is to ensure they are up-to-date on their vaccinations. The kitten first vaccination is at 6 to 8 weeks, and a booster is at 12 weeks. After that, they will need an annual booster to maintain their immunity.
Cats that go outside or are exposed to other cats (such as at a boarding facility) may need more frequent boosters. Your vet can help you determine the best vaccination schedule for your cat based on their lifestyle and risk factors.
In addition to vaccinations, good hygiene practices can also help prevent the spread of FPV. This includes:
- Regularly cleaning litter boxes.
- Avoiding contact with other animals if possible.
- Disinfecting any areas that may be contaminated with the virus.
The Bottom Line
Cat parvovirus is a highly contagious and deadly virus, especially in kittens. However, it is preventable with vaccinations and good hygiene practices. If you think your cat may have FPV, it’s important to seek veterinary care immediately. With early treatment, most cats will make a full recovery.
Make sure to find a reputable vet clinic or hospital that offers other vet services, including veterinary dentistry, surgery, and more. This will ensure that your cat receives the best possible care if they ever need it. Plus, you know they are well-equipped and experienced.