Before bringing home a cat, you should first know that there are many things you have to do for them. These include dental services (see restorative pet dental healthcare for more info), vaccinations, and more.
This is because cats can get sick, too, just like humans and other animals. And when they do, it’s important to know the symptoms and how to treat them. Parvovirus is one of the many common diseases that can affect cats.
Here’s what you need to know about parvovirus in cats, including its symptoms and treatment.
What Is Parvovirus in Cats?
Parvovirus or feline panleukopenia is a highly contagious viral disease that affects cats of all ages, breeds, and sizes. The virus attacks the gastrointestinal tract and causes severe diarrhea and vomiting.
It is transmitted through contact with contaminated feces, either directly or indirectly. It can also be spread through contact with contaminated surfaces, such as food bowls, litter boxes, and clothing.
The feline parvovirus is closely related to the canine parvovirus. The two viruses are so similar that the feline parvovirus can infect dogs, and the canine parvovirus can infect cats. These viruses originate from different animal species but can mutate and infect other animals.
Parvovirus is a severe disease that can be deadly in kittens and young cats. In fact, it is one of the leading causes of death in kittens worldwide. Older and adult cats can also be affected by the virus, but they are more likely to recover from it.
What Are the Symptoms of Cat Parvovirus?
The symptoms of parvovirus can vary from mild to severe. The most common include:
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Severe diarrhea
- Death (in some cases)
How Is Parvovirus Diagnosed in Cats?
A diagnosis of parvovirus is usually made based on the symptoms. Your veterinarian will also consider your cat’s age, vaccination history, and exposure to other cats. They will perform a physical examination to check for dehydration and other signs of illness.
Laboratory tests include:
- Blood tests
- Imaging tests (x-rays or ultrasounds)
- Fecal tests
How Is Parvovirus Treated in Cats?
There is no specific cure for parvovirus. Treatment focuses on relieving the symptoms and supporting the cat’s vital functions.
Dehydration is one of the most severe complications of parvovirus and must be treated immediately. Your cat will be given fluids intravenously to rehydrate them. They may also need antibiotics to prevent or treat secondary infections. Cats with parvovirus are usually hospitalized for several days to be monitored closely.
While some people question its morality, many vets euthanize cats with too severe conditions.
How Can You Prevent Parvovirus in Cats?
The best way to prevent cat parvovirus is to vaccinate your cat against it, just like parvo shots for puppies.
Kittens should be vaccinated at 8, 12, and 16 weeks. Adult cats should be vaccinated annually or every three years, depending on the vaccine used. Cats at high risk for exposure to the virus (such as those that go outside or live in shelters) should be vaccinated more often.
Here are some tips to prevent cat parvo:
- You can reduce the risk of exposure by keeping your cat indoors and away from other cats that may be infected. If you must take your cat outside, ensure they are up-to-date on their vaccinations.
- Wash your hands thoroughly after handling contaminated materials, such as litter boxes or food bowls.
- Always practice good hygiene.
- If you have multiple cats, keep them separate from each other. This will prevent the virus from spreading if one of your cats becomes infected.
Parvovirus is a serious disease that can be deadly, especially in kittens and young cats. If you think your cat may have parvo, take them to the vet immediately. The sooner they are diagnosed and treated, the better their chances of recovery.
Vaccinating your cat is the best way to prevent them from getting parvovirus. Be sure to keep up with their vaccinations and practice good hygiene to reduce the risk of exposure. Consider getting them a preventive care plan that covers vaccinations and other routine care if you can. This will help ensure your cat stays healthy and protected against deadly diseases like parvovirus.