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Cat Parvovirus Symptoms

As a pet owner, you feel responsible when your cat is ill. It can even be overwhelming if they contract a potentially fatal disease like parvovirus. Find out all the facts about parvovirus from our vets in Mooresville and how to protect your cat.

What Is The Cat Parvovirus?

Parvovirus in cats is also known as feline distemper or feline panleukopenia. Feline parvovirus attacks the cells in your cat's intestines. This can lead to diarrhea, vomiting, and difficulty eating and drinking. It also affects the bone marrow, causing a shortage of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.

At birth, kittens are protected by antibodies in their mother's milk, but this protection wears off between 4 and 12 weeks.

Parvo is widespread in most environments, and almost all cats will be exposed to it during their lifetime. Apart from young kittens, sick or unvaccinated cats are the most likely to contract the disease.

How Parvovirus Attacks Your Cat's Body

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

In kittens, parvo also attacks the bone marrow and lymphopoietic tissues that play an essential role in your cat's immune system, and the virus often affects 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 be weaned, their immune systems weaken, and the young kittens become vulnerable to the disease.

Veterinarians strongly advise pet parents to start vaccinating their kittens against parvo from the age of 6 weeks, when the kitten begins to be weaned, and the mother's antibodies are no longer available to protect the kitten.

Only when the young cat has received all three vaccines will it be protected against the disease. It's between weaning and full vaccination that kittens are most likely to catch parvo.

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. Contact your nearest emergency vet if you see the slightest sign of any of these symptoms.

Treatment for Parvovirus in Cats & Kittens

Although there is no cure for parvo in kittens, your veterinarian will provide supportive treatments to manage symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea. Ensuring your kitten is sufficiently hydrated and well nourished is essential to facilitate its recovery from parvovirus. Sadly, it's important to note that kittens have a particularly high mortality rate after contracting this disease.

As secondary infections are common in Parvo kittens (due to a weakened immune system), your vet will monitor your kitten's health and may prescribe antibiotics to help fight any bacterial infection that may begin to develop.

If a veterinarian treats your kitten and survives the first four days after the onset of symptoms, there's a good chance she'll recover from the disease.

Preventing Parvovirus in Cats

Never let your kitten spend time with cats that have not been fully vaccinated against parvovirus. Ask your vet about the best way to protect your cat.

Be sure to follow your vet's advice and have your kitten vaccinated against parvovirus, rabies, and other potentially serious diseases in accordance with the kitten vaccination schedule in force in your area.

The prognosis for Cats With Parvo

Feline parvovirus used to be a major cause of cat fatalities. Thanks to the preventive vaccine, this is no longer the case. However, if a cat contracts parvo, the survival rate is low.

Adult cats have a better chance of survival than kittens. Additionally, cats who receive veterinary care for their parvo have a higher chance of survival than those who do not. In general, up to 90% of cats who contract parvo and do not receive treatment will die.

We strongly recommend that every pet owner vaccinates their kittens and cats and follows up with booster shots throughout their cat's life. Preventive measures are always more beneficial than the cost and worry associated with treatment once your cat is already ill.

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 Mooresville vets or your nearest 24-hour emergency vet to get them urgent care.

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Lake Norman at Mooresville Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our veterinarians are passionate about improving the health of cats, dogs and exotic pets. Book your pet's first appointment today.

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