Can Cats Get Parvo? Here’s What An Expert Says

And is it preventable?

can cats get parvo

Parvovirus (aka parvo) in dogs is no joke since it can make pups really sick, so you’re probably wondering: Can cats get parvo?

We spoke with Ashley Callihan, a licensed veterinary nurse with DodoVet, to find out everything you need to know about parvo in cats.

What is parvo in cats?

Parvo in cats is an easily transmissible and potentially fatal virus.

“The feline parvovirus infects and kills cells that are rapidly growing and dividing, such as those in the bone marrow, intestines and the developing fetus of pregnant felines,” Callihan told The Dodo. “Parvovirus is more of a blanket term for a class of small viruses.”

Feline parvo is often also referred to as feline panleukopenia (FPL), which is sometimes also called feline distemper.

“Feline panleukopenia is a type of feline parvovirus that is incredibly contagious and severely decreases the number of white blood cells in the body,” Callihan said.

Can cats get parvo from dogs?

If you find out your dog — or a dog your cat was around recently — has parvo, you don’t have to worry about your cat getting it from him.

“There are different parvoviruses that affect different species,” Callihan said. “Felines only get feline parvovirus, dogs only get canine parvovirus, and humans only get human parvovirus.”

While that may be a relief, it’s important to note that it’s really easy for parvo to spread between cats, often through fecal matter.

“Though your cats aren’t likely to be eating stool, transmission does occur more easily than we would think,” Callihan said. “If you have a cat that has FPL, and they share a litter box with any other cat(s), the healthy cats will pick up virus particles on their paws in the litter box and will ingest them while grooming.”

Cats can also get parvo through other contaminated bodily fluids. The virus can be transmitted if your pet shares a food and water bowl, toy, or even a bed or blanket with an infected cat.

What do parvo symptoms in cats look like?

Parvo symptoms in cats include things like:

How do you treat a cat with parvo?

You can’t actually treat parvo in cats directly, so instead you’ll have to focus on treating your cat’s symptoms while you wait for him to recover.

“There are no medications that are able to kill the virus, so treatment is based on the present symptoms,” Callihan said.

To address those symptoms, your cat might need intravenous fluids or antibiotics — but always confirm with your vet because they’ll know what’s best for your cat’s case.

How to prevent parvo in cats

The most effective way to prevent parvo in cats is to get your BFF vaccinated.

“This vaccine is one of the core vaccines that is given to kittens when they are about 8 weeks of age, and then boostered throughout the rest of their life,” Callihan said. “Just like every other disease, prevention is always the best medicine!”

It’s also important that you thoroughly clean anywhere an infected cat’s been, because the virus is strong and persistent.

“Feline panleukopenia can survive even in the harshest environments and is killed by a few select disinfectant products,” Callihan said.

Now you know that cats can get parvo, but you also know how to prevent your BFF from getting infected and what to do if he does.