Nothing is scarier for a pet parent than witnessing their cat fall ill, especially when facing a life-threatening disease like parvo. Our vets at Clovis provide crucial information about parvovirus and guide you in ensuring your cat's safety.
What Is Parvo in Cats?
Parvo in cats, also known as feline distemper and feline panleukopenia, actively attacks your cat's intestines, leading to symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, and difficulty eating and drinking. Additionally, it targets the bone marrow, resulting in shortages of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.
This condition is particularly prevalent and severe in kittens aged 3 to 5 months. While newborn kittens are shielded by antibodies in their mother's milk, this protection diminishes between 4 to 12 weeks of age.
Parvo pervades various environments, and almost every cat will encounter it during their lifetime. Young kittens and cats that are sick or unvaccinated are at the highest risk of contracting this disease.
How Parvovirus Attacks Your Cat's Body
Parvo is a disease that affects the stomach and small intestines, where the virus initiates the destruction of the cat's gut barrier by attacking healthy cells and obstructing the absorption of essential nutrients. In kittens, parvo additionally targets the bone marrow and lymphopoietic tissues, crucial components of your cat's immune system, and frequently impacts the heart.
Why Young Cats Are Susceptible to Parvo
If the mother is fully vaccinated against parvo, she passes on antibodies to her kittens, safeguarding them from the virus during the initial weeks of their lives.
However, as the kittens start the weaning process, their immune systems weaken, rendering them vulnerable to the disease.
Vets strongly recommend that pet parents commence Parvo vaccinations for their kittens at 6 weeks of age, coinciding with the onset of weaning and the depletion of maternal antibodies.
Full protection against the disease is only achieved after the young cat receives all 3 vaccinations. It is crucial to note that the period between weaning and complete vaccination poses the highest risk for kittens to contract parvo.
Symptoms of Parvo
It is essential to understand that once your kitten begins showing symptoms, they are already very ill. Here are the symptoms you need to look out for.
- Bloody diarrhea
- Watery nasal discharge
- Fever in the early stage followed by low body temperature
- Lethargy and depression
- Inability to eat
- Weight loss
- Vomiting or frothing at the mouth
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 immediately if you see the slightest sign of these symptoms.
Treatment for Parvovirus in Cats & Kittens
Parvo in kittens lacks a cure, but your vet will provide supportive treatments to address symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea. Ensuring your kitten receives sufficient hydration and nutrition is crucial for overcoming parvovirus. Unfortunately, this disease carries a high mortality rate among kittens.
Because parvo weakens their immune systems, kittens often experience secondary infections. Your vet will closely monitor your kitten's ongoing condition and may prescribe antibiotics to counteract potential bacterial infections.
If your veterinarian treats your four-legged friend and they endure the initial four days after symptom onset, there is a promising likelihood that your kitten will recover from the disease.
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 protecting your new four-legged family member.
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 was once a leading cause of cat death. Thanks to the preventive vaccine, this is no longer the case. However, if your cat contracts parvo, survival rates are grim.
Adult cats stand a better chance of survival than kittens if they get parvo. Cats that receive veterinary care for their parvo are more likely to survive than those without treatment. In general, up to 90 percent of untreated cats with parvo will die.
We strongly encourage every pet owner to vaccinate their kittens and cats and to follow up with booster shots throughout their cat's life. Preventive measures always outweigh the cost and worry associated with treating a cat that is already deathly ill. Save your cat from the discomfort and high mortality rates linked to parvovirus.