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Cat Parvovirus Symptoms

As a pet owner, it is natural to feel responsible when your cat falls ill, especially if they are suffering from a serious and potentially fatal disease like parvovirus. Our vets in Santa Clarita can provide you with all the essential information on parvovirus, including how to safeguard your cat against this dangerous illness.

What Is The Cat Parvovirus?

Parvovirus, also known as feline distemper or feline panleukopenia, affects cats by attacking the cells in their intestines. This can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and difficulty eating and drinking. It also affects the bone marrow, which leads to a shortage of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.

Newborn kittens are protected from the virus by their mother's milk. However, this protection wears off between 4 and 12 weeks of age. Parvo is widespread in most environments, and almost all cats will be exposed to it during their lifetime. Sick or unvaccinated cats, along with young kittens, are the most likely to contract the disease.

How Parvovirus Attacks Your Cat's Body

Parvo is a disease that affects the stomach and small intestine of cats. The virus targets the intestinal barrier and attacks healthy cells, which prevents the absorption of vital nutrients.

In kittens, the virus also attacks the bone marrow and lymphopoietic tissues, which are crucial immune system components. Parvo can also affect the hearts of infected cats.

Young Cats Are Susceptible to Parvo

If the mother cat is vaccinated against parvo, her kittens will inherit antibodies that protect them from the virus for the first few weeks of their lives. However, as the kittens start to wean, their immune systems weaken, leaving them vulnerable to the disease.

Veterinarians strongly recommend that pet owners start vaccinating their kittens against parvo at 6 weeks of age, as that's when the kitten starts to wean. The mother's antibodies are no longer available to protect the kitten.

Only after the young cat has received all three vaccines will it be completely immune to the disease. Kittens will most likely catch parvo between the weaning stage and full vaccination.

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

Parvovirus is a serious disease affecting kittens; unfortunately, there is no permanent cure for it. However, your veterinarian can provide supportive treatments to manage symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea. It's important to keep your kitten hydrated and well-nourished to facilitate its recovery from the virus. 

It's crucial to note that kittens have a high mortality rate after contracting parvovirus. Additionally, secondary infections are common due to a weakened immune system. Your vet will monitor your kitten's health and may prescribe antibiotics to help fight any bacterial infections that may develop. 

If a veterinarian treats your kitten and it survives the first four days after showing symptoms, there's a good chance that it will recover from the disease.

Preventing Parvovirus in Cats

It's important to keep your kitten away from unvaccinated cats. Consult your vet on how to protect your feline friend from parvovirus best.

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 was once a leading cause of cat deaths, but thanks to the preventive vaccine, this is no longer the case. However, if a cat contracts parvo, their chances of survival are low.

Adult cats have a higher chance of survival than kittens, and cats who receive veterinary care for parvo have a better chance of survival than those who do not. Generally, up to 90% of cats with parvo who do not receive treatment will not survive.

It is highly recommended that every pet owner vaccinates their kittens and cats and gives them booster shots throughout their 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 Santa Clarita vets or your nearest 24-hour emergency vet to get them urgent care.

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Sweetwater Veterinary Clinic is accepting new patients! Our friendly and experienced vets are passionate about the health of Santa Clarita companion animals and horses. Get in touch today to book your four-legged friend's first appointment.

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