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Parvovirus Symptoms in Cats

As a pet owner, you feel responsible when your cat is sick. It can even be overwhelming if they contract a life-threatening illness such as parvo. Find out all the facts about parvovirus from our Springfield vets and how you can keep your cat safe.

What Is The Cat Parvovirus?

Cats can develop a condition called parvo, which is also referred to as feline distemper or feline panleukopenia.The cells in your cat's intestines are attacked by feline parvovirus. Diarrhea, vomiting, difficulty eating, and difficulty drinking may occur as a result of this. The bone marrow is also targeted, resulting in a decrease in red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.

Kittens aged 3 to 5 months experience the most severe form of this condition. Kittens receive protection from antibodies in their mother's milk when they are born. However, this protection gradually diminishes between 4 to 12 weeks of age.

Parvo is found in many environments and almost every cat will come into contact with it at some point in their life. This disease is most likely to affect sick or unvaccinated cats, aside from young kittens.

How Parvovirus Attacks Your Cat's Body

Parvo is a disease of the stomach and small intestines. The virus begins destroying the cat's gut barrier by attacking healthy cells and blocking the absorption of essential nutrients.

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

Young Cats Are Susceptible to Parvo

If the mother is fully vaccinated against Parvo her kittens will inherit antibodies that will protect them against the virus for the first few weeks of their lives. 

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

Pet parents should start vaccinating their kittens against Parvo at 6 weeks of age, as this is when the kittens begin to wean and lose the protection provided by their mother's antibodies. Vets strongly recommend this proactive approach to ensure the health and well-being of the kittens.

The young cat will only be protected against the disease after receiving all 3 vaccinations. Kittens are most susceptible to catching Parvo during the gap between weaning and full vaccination.

Symptoms of Parvo 

It is important to understand that once your kitten begins showing symptoms they are already very ill. Here are the symptoms you need to look out for.

  • Watery nasal discharge
  • Fever in the early stage 
  • Low body temperature
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Weakness
  • 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.

Treatment for Parvovirus in Cats & Kittens

Your veterinarian will provide supportive treatments to manage symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea, as there is no cure for Parvo in kittens. Ensuring your kitten receives sufficient hydration and proper nutrition is crucial for their recovery from Parvovirus. Regrettably, it's worth mentioning that this disease significantly increases the likelihood of kittens not surviving.

Your vet will closely monitor your kitten's condition and may prescribe antibiotics to combat any bacterial infections that may develop, as secondary infections are common in kittens with Parvo due to their weakened immune systems.

If your furry companion is under the care of a veterinarian and manages to make it through the initial four days after symptoms show up, there is a promising possibility that your kitten will make a full recovery from the illness.

Preventing Parvovirus in Cats

Never allow your kitten to spend time around cats that have not been fully vaccinated against Parvovirus. Talk to your vet about how best to protect your cat.

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 Prognosis for Cats With Parvo

Feline parvo used to be a leading cause of cat death. Thanks to the preventive vaccine, this is no longer the case. However, once your cat gets parvo, survival rates are grim.

Parvo has a higher survival rate in adult cats compared to kittens. Cats that receive veterinary care for their parvo have a higher likelihood of survival compared to those that do not. In general, untreated parvo can result in a mortality rate of up to 90 percent for cats.

It is highly recommended that all pet owners vaccinate their kittens and cats and continue with booster shots throughout their cat's life. It is always better to take preventive measures rather than dealing with the high costs and stress of treating a seriously ill cat.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet,

Has your cat been showing signs of the deadly parvovirus virus? If so, contact our Springfield vets or your nearest 24-hour emergency vet to get them urgent care.

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Greenbrier-Springfield Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Springfield companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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(615) 643-7931