Feline Parvovirus

The feline parvovirus causes a devastating disease known as distemper or panleukopenia. Although the feline version shares the same name as the one that affects their canine counterparts, the two conditions aren’t the same. They aren’t caused by the same virus and can’t be passed between the two types of pets.

Feline Parvovirus

Feline Parvovirus

Parvo is a virus that can easily be kept at bay with proper vaccination. This is the main reason why the disease is no longer as widespread as it once was. However, it can still be problematic for cats that are unvaccinated in the wild. Those who are infected usually have less than a 50% chance for survival.


Usually, young cats are infected with the virus. However, adults can also be infected if they haven’t been vaccinated. The cat parvovirus is very capable of surviving in the environment for long periods of time. In fact, it can survive for about a year. This is the reason why cats are usually infected by coming into contact with infected areas rather than infected cats.


Parvovirus in felines is especially bad since it destroys the white blood cells. This leaves your cat vulnerable to a wide range of other illnesses. Once signs appear, you’ll quickly see that it’s time for a trip to the veterinarian.

A high fever will develop. Lethargy and depression will likely occur too. Since the digestive system is especially targeted, cats will have bloody diarrhea and signs of malnutrition and dehydration. Severe cases of the condition can result in sudden death.


Of course, the veterinarian will discuss your cat’s medical history and do a physical exam. The exam may show that the abdomen is swollen, and maybe painful to the touch. The lymph nodes may also be swollen and clearly show that there is some type of problem. To diagnose the disease, the vet will have blood tests done, which will show the low levels of white blood cells. Inflammation of the small intestines will also point to parvo.


There is no cure for feline parvovirus. Only supportive care can be provided for the disease itself. However, other conditions may take the opportunity presented by your cat’s weakened immune system. Antibiotics may be prescribed to stave them off. Cats that are having seizures may need to be given medications to prevent them.

As you read earlier, this virus is capable of surviving in the environment for a long time. It is vital that you disinfect anything that your cat has come into contact with. This includes toys, sleeping/travel cage, and food and water bowls. You can use a solution of bleach and water to kill the virus. Don’t panic if you have dogs in the house since they won’t be affected by this particular virus.


Parvovirus in cats has a high mortality rate. Young kittens can easily succumb to the disease. If they’re able to survive for four to five days with supportive care, they have a much higher chance of surviving. However, the road to recovery will be a long one, often taking a few weeks.


There is no reason to deal with this horrible disease as vaccination can easily prevent it. Have your kitten vaccinated when they’re two to three months of age, complete with the required followup shots. After these vaccination shots, there should be no reason to worry about feline parvovirus for the rest of his life.