Parvo In Cats
Cats Can Catch The Parvovirus too
“Hi! I hope this isn’t a stupid question, but my friend just told me that I need to be careful about boarding my cat because she might get parvo. Isn’t parvo something that dogs get? Is there such thing as parvo in cats? Thanks!”

Well, hello. There is no such thing as a stupid question, so don’t worry.

Yes, cats can, in fact, get Parvovirus. The problem is that when talking about cats, Parvo really refers to Feline Panleukopenia. The dog version of Parvo can be spread to cats, but it is incredibly rare. Like, really, really rare.

The type Parvo that cats catch is referred to as the Feline Panleukopenia. Although both are caused by something called “the Parvovirus,” they are in fact completely different viruses from each other. Simply put, the virus that cats get is a different virus from the one that dogs get. Let’s go ahead and talk about that some more. 
What Is Feline Panleukopenia?
Feline Panleukopenia is a contagious disease caused by the Feline Parvovirus. Feline Panleukopenia is sometimes also referred to Feline Distemper. However, do not confuse these with the dog version of Parvovirus or Distemper. They are completely different viruses.

For a long while, Feline Panleukopenia was especially deadly for cats. However, a vaccine was found to prevent this disease, and now it is highly unlikely that your cat will catch it.

Despite the fact that the infection and fatality rate has dropped considerably from Feline Panleukopenia, the virus is actually EVERYWHERE. It just happens to live all around us. This means that no cat is actually ever safe.

The virus is found throughout all parts of the United States and most countries of the world. And, due to the high concentrations of potentially infected animals in one place, kennels, pet shops, animal shelters, unvaccinated feral cat colonies, and other areas where groups of cats are housed together are the most likely areas that a cat will catch Feline Panleukopenia. 
It Doesn't Matter Where You Live, The Feline Panleukopenia Is Lurking
What Types of Cats Need To Worry The Most About Catching Feline Panleukopenia?
Pretty much all cats and kittens are exposed to Feline Panleukopenia from the environment. Feline Panleukopenia is an incredibly resilient disease. While infected cats can spread the virus for a very limited amount of time when infected (only a couple of days worth of time), the virus can live for up to a year in the environment.

The virus comes from the cat’s urine, stool, and snot. When another cat comes into contact with these infected substances they are at risk for catching the virus. Additionally, if a flea has eaten off of an infected animal and then bites another cat, then that may pass on the virus as well.

Once the virus has latched on to an object, it is incredibly difficult to remove it. This means that cages, bedding, food bowls and water bowls, as well as the clothes of humans who handle infected cats, can still be able to transmit the virus for up to a year after coming into contact with an infected substance.

Worst yet, the virus is resistant to many disinfectants, and is incredibly difficult to destroy. This means that all cats may potentially catch this disease even though an infected cat has not been anywhere nearby in a long time.

Thankfully, as cats grow older, they develop stronger immune systems, as well as receive more vaccinations to help prevent catching it. On the other hand, kittens, cats with weakened immune system, and especially unvaccinated cats are the most susceptible for catching this disease. The younger the kitten the more likely it is that they will catch Feline Panleukopenia. In fact, this is when most cat deaths due to Feline Panleukopenia occur.

Once a cat has caught Feline Panleukopenia, it is at extreme risk as this virus is incredibly deadly. There is no cure, and so it is up to the cat’s natural immune system to fight it off. Supportive care is used to keep the cat hydrated and to provide proper nutrition while the cat fights for its life.
Kittens Are At High Risk Of Catching Feline Panleukopenia While Outside
The key to Parvo in cats is simply to prevent catching it. Keep your cat vaccinated, and far away from any other cats that have caught Feline Panleukopenia recently.

And as always, make sure to speak with your vet if you have any questions.
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