Do Cats Carry Parvo?

Feline enteritis is the most infectious and dangerous disease of cats. In an outbreak of the disease even with the most vigorous treatment, most affected cats die.

Can cats get parvo from dogs?

Can cats get parvo from dogs?

No, cats can not get parvo from dogs. Cats can get an illness called feline panleukopenia virus (FPV). The virus in dogs is called canine parvovirus, while the virus in cats is called feline parvovirus. Because they are so different, they cannot infect each other. Both of them are highly contagious and deadly diseases to both felines and canines, which is why it is important to know how to recognize the signs of both viruses and prevent their spread.

As feline enteritis is much older than the dog disease, it is quite likely that the organism affecting dogs is a variant of the cat virus. One of the features that makes feline enteritis such a difficult disease to eradicate is the ability of the virus to survive long periods in the environment.

Sick animals or carrier animals excrete the virus in the saliva, tears, vomitus, urine and feces. In moist shady areas, such as in the cracks of cat cages and floors the virus is capable of remaining infective for at least a year.

It can be seen why the owners of pet shops, catteries or organizers of cat shows should be aware of this property of the virus. The incubation period is quite short, usually less than one week.

What are the signs of cat parvo?

  • At first, the cat merely becomes very quiet, refuses all food and sits with its back hunched.
  • It soon starts to vomit a bright yellow bile-stained fluid.
  • It becomes progressively more depressed and tends to hide or sit with its head over its water bowl.
  • Diarrhea is usually not seen as the virus attacks the very early part of the small intestine.
  • Very young cats may appear sick one day and be dead the next which prompts the owner to insist that the cat has been poisoned.
  • The virus attacks the cells lining the anterior portion of the bowel.
  • It also attacks the bone marrow and infected cats very rapidly exhibit a marked lowering of their white blood cell counts. This robs the animal of much of its ability to fight infection.

Can you cure parvo without a vet?

There is no cure for parvo, but your veterinarian can offer supportive care to lessen the severity of the symptoms. It’s important to keep your pet hydrated and nourished while it waits to recover or if it is not expected to survive.

How do you treat a cat with parvo?

Treatment is difficult as there is no specific drug which acts on the virus.

Blood transfusions are often given to correct the low levels of white cells present in the blood. Fluids are given to counteract the severe dehydration that quickly occurs and antibiotics are administered to prevent secondary infection in the damaged tissues of the bowel.

In general, the younger the kitten the more acute is the form the disease takes. Older cats have a better chance of recovery but it should be remembered that recovered animals can remain carriers for long periods and may be responsible for successive waves of infection in cat breeding establishments.

The virus can cross the placenta and recovered females may give birth to kittens with considerable birth defects such as abnormalities of posture or balance.

Fortunately, there is a very effective vaccine. Kittens should be vaccinated at 6 weeks of age if they are living in a crowded situation, such as a cattery. Another vaccination at 14 to 16 weeks confers a strong immunity.

There is some difference of opinion amongst veterinary surgeons as to when subsequent vaccination should be given. There is good evidence to suggest that another vaccination a year later confers strong immunity for at least four years.

This may be so when the animal is being regularly challenged by the virus in the community in which it lives. On the other hand, many modern cats live very sheltered lives and rarely contact other cats, these animals may lose their immunity if not regularly revaccinated.

As feline enteritis is such a serious disease and as vaccination has no ill effects, it is wise to have all cats revaccinated every year or at least every two years.

How long does it take for a cat to recover from parvo?

The majority of cases take several days to a week before symptoms clear up. Recovery time varies greatly from cat to cat, depending on how severely the cat has been affected by the virus. In many cases, once the infection has run its course, cats resume normal eating habits. However, it can take weeks for them to recover their strength and build back up their immune systems.

Louisiana SPCA Offers Tips on Preventing Parvo

Hannah Elizabeth is an English animal behavior author, having written for several online publications. With a degree in Animal Behaviour and over a decade of practical animal husbandry experience, Hannah's articles cover everything from pet care to wildlife conservation. When she isn't creating content for blog posts, Hannah enjoys long walks with her Rottweiler cross Senna, reading fantasy novels and breeding aquarium shrimp.

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