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Home » Symptoms of Parvovirus in Cats

Symptoms of Parvovirus in Cats

by Pets Sos

As a pet parent, it can be incredibly distressing when your beloved cat falls ill, particularly if they become infected with a serious and potentially life-threatening disease like parvovirus. We understand the concern and want to provide you with important information to keep your feline friend safe and well-informed. In this article, we will delve into the details of parvovirus in cats, its symptoms, treatment options, and preventive measures you can take to protect your furry companion. By staying with us for the next five minutes, you will gain valuable insights that will help you navigate this challenging situation and ensure the well-being of your beloved cat.

What Is Parvo in Cats?

Parvo in cats, also known as feline distemper and feline panleukopenia, is caused by feline parvovirus. This virus targets the cells in a cat’s intestines, leading to symptoms like 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.

The most severe cases of this condition are commonly seen in kittens aged 3 to 5 months. While newborn kittens are initially protected by their mother’s antibodies in milk, this protection diminishes between 4 to 12 weeks of age.

Parvo is prevalent in various environments, and nearly every cat is likely to be exposed to it during their lifetime. Kittens and unvaccinated or sick cats are at the highest risk of contracting the disease.

How Parvovirus Attacks Your Cat’s Body?

Parvo primarily targets the stomach and small intestines, where it damages the gut barrier and disrupts nutrient absorption. In kittens, it can also impact the bone marrow and lymphopoietic tissues, crucial for the immune system. Occasionally, the virus may affect the heart.

Why Young Cats Are Susceptible to Parvo?

Young cats are particularly susceptible to parvo due to their developing immune systems. While kittens receive some initial protection from their mother’s antibodies, this protection gradually fades as they begin to wean. As their immune systems weaken during this transition, they become more vulnerable to parvo.

To ensure the kittens’ protection, veterinarians recommend initiating the parvo vaccination at around 6 weeks of age when the kittens start to wean and the maternal antibodies wane. The vaccination process typically involves a series of three vaccinations, and it is only after completing the full course that the kittens attain full protection against the disease.

It is crucial to be diligent during the period between weaning and complete vaccination, as this is when young kittens are most at risk of contracting parvo. By following the recommended vaccination schedule and practicing good hygiene to minimize exposure to the virus, pet parents can help safeguard their kittens against this potentially life-threatening disease.

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
  • Weakness
  • 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
  • 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 Pets Vet.

Treatment for Parvovirus in Cats & Kittens

There is currently no cure for Parvo in kittens, but supportive treatments can be provided by a veterinarian to manage symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea. Adequate hydration and nutrition are crucial for the kitten’s recovery from Parvovirus. Unfortunately, kittens have a high mortality rate once they contract this disease.

Since kittens with Parvo are prone to secondary infections due to their weakened immune systems, the veterinarian will closely monitor the kitten’s condition and may prescribe antibiotics to address any potential bacterial infections.

If a kitten receives veterinary treatment and survives the first four days after the onset of symptoms, there is a good chance of recovery from the disease.

Preventing Parvovirus in Cats

It is important to prevent your kitten from being exposed to cats that have not been fully vaccinated against Parvovirus. Consult with your veterinarian to understand the best measures for protecting your new kitten.

Remember to follow your veterinarian’s guidance and have your kitten vaccinated against Parvo, rabies, and other potentially serious diseases according to the recommended vaccination schedule in your area. Vaccinations are crucial to providing essential protection for your kitten’s health.

The prognosis for Cats With Parvo

Feline parvo, which used to be a leading cause of cat mortality, is now preventable through vaccination. However, if a cat does contract parvo, the prognosis is often poor.

Adult cats generally have a higher chance of survival compared to kittens when it comes to parvo. Cats that receive prompt veterinary care for parvo have a better prognosis than those that do not. Without treatment, up to 90 percent of cats with parvo may not survive.

We strongly recommend that all pet owners ensure their kittens and cats are vaccinated against parvo and receive regular booster shots throughout their lives. Preventive measures significantly outweigh the costs and concerns associated with treating a severely ill cat. By vaccinating your cat, you can spare them from the discomfort and high mortality rates associated with the parvovirus.

How often should cats receive booster shots for the parvo vaccine?

The frequency of booster shots for the parvo vaccine in cats can vary depending on factors such as the specific vaccine used and local veterinary recommendations. Generally, initial vaccination against feline parvovirus is given in a series of doses during the kitten’s early months, typically starting around 6-8 weeks of age. These initial doses are usually given every 3-4 weeks until the kitten is around 16-18 weeks old.

After the initial series, adult cats typically receive a booster shot for the parvo vaccine around 1 year after the last dose of the initial series. Following the first booster, the frequency of subsequent booster shots can vary. Some veterinarians may recommend booster shots every 1-3 years, while others may suggest a longer interval of 3-5 years. It’s important to consult with your veterinarian to determine the appropriate booster shot schedule for your cat based on their individual needs and local guidelines.

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