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Can Cats get Parvovirus from Dogs?

cat and dog are sleeping

It is common to have health concerns when your pet cat is not as active as it used to be. One of the most common worries is the Parvo virus. It is a common question for cat owners can cats get parvo from dogs? If this question has brought you here, you are in the right place. To answer this, you need to start from scratch!

What is Parvo Virus? 

Parvovirus is a virus that causes diseases like diarrhea, fever, and vomiting in cats. This virus can show severe symptoms, especially in kittens. If your cat is showing such health issues, then you may want to know more because parvovirus can be fatal. Also, kittens are more vulnerable to this virus.

Did you know that Parvovirus, also known as Feline panleukopenia (FP), has historically been a leading cause of cat death? Thankfully, it is a rare disease in the current world. Nowadays, Parvovirus can be prevented in cats due to the expected availability and use of very effective vaccines. The disease is also named Feline distemper or Feline Parvovirus.

Quick fact!

The names Feline Distemper and Feline Parvovirus should not be confused with Canine Distemper or Canine Parvovirus. They have similar names but are caused by different viruses. These viruses do not infect humans. The feline Parvovirus in cats infects and kills rapidly growing cells such as those in the bone marrow, gut, and developing fetus.

Signs of Parvo Virus

Parvovirus in cats can be diagnosed through various deteriorating health signs such as: 

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Severe dehydration
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fever
  • Depression and behavioral changes
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargic behavior
  • Unusual weight loss

Due to the Parvovirus, the bone marrow is severely affected, which makes your kitten more vulnerable. When the bone marrow is affected, the body gets low on red and white blood cell counts.

Without enough white blood cells, your cat is at risk of further infections. Low white blood cell count is a crucial feature of the disease compared to other intestinal infections. Cat owners are always alarmed by the mentioned signs of Parvovirus. 

Common Ways of Contamination

The Parvovirus can spread through feces, urine, and nasal secretions in cats. Cats with this virus can contaminate cages, bedding, utensils, and the hands and clothing of those who handle them. Your cat can be infected by another cat that has Parvovirus.

Unfortunately, the virus can survive in the environment for months, which means your cat can contract the disease without coming into constant contact with a sick cat. Also, a pregnant cat with Parvovirus can give birth to kittens with damaged brains. Cat-to-cat contamination is more likely to happen in multi-cat households. Usually, cats living in animal shelters, pet stores, and other places where multiple cats live together are easily exposed to this virus. 

Can Cats get Parvo from Dogs?

To answer this question, you must know how Parvovirus differs in cats and dogs. Firstly, canine and feline Parvovirus strains show some crucial distinctions. Parvovirus is applied to the viruses that come under the umbrella of the Parvovirus taxonomic family. Cats and dogs have separate strains specific to their species. Feline panleukopenia virus is the name given to the cat strain that poses a severe threat to your pet within the feline population. 

Although it is uncommon, there is a possibility that your cat gets Parvovirus from dogs, given certain conditions. There’s a high risk of cross-contamination in places like animal shelters where cats can get infected from dogs with Parvovirus.


In return, cats become potentially contagious. In such cases, it is crucial to quarantine your cat from other animals for at least several weeks. On the other hand, Canine Parvovirus is commonly found in the dog population. The virus can be manifested in two of its kinds.

CPV-1 strain of Canine Parvovirus shows symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, and a significant loss of appetite. Another form of Parvovirus in dogs is CPV-2 which is also known as myocardium and causes heart inflammation. This particular strain attacks the heart mussels of canine fetuses and newborn puppies. In both cases, cats and dogs must be quarantined if infected by feline or canine Parvovirus.

Also, it is crucial to thoroughly disinfect all your pet’s belongings, including food and water trays, blankets, and toys. This can help avoid any further spread of the virus. Recovery of infected animals is critical, and precautions to prevent the spread of both viruses can help protect your pets from any fatal outcomes.

Parvovirus Diagnosis in Cats

Besides signs of bad health, there are several other ways through which Parvovirus can be diagnosed in your cat. Feline Parvovirus in cats can be hard to diagnose because its symptoms are similar to mild to fatal diseases.

In addition to the symptoms, a history of exposure can help your vet identify the virus. Additionally, the lack of vaccinations to prevent Parvovirus makes the diagnosis of the virus possible in your cat. Usually, vets order stool and blood tests to diagnose the disease. Laboratory tests may identify the virus in cat feces. Blood tests showing a decrease in the number of all cell types identify the presence of Parvovirus in your cat.

Parvovirus Prevention

Vaccination is the primary method to prevent Parvovirus in your cat. The vaccination given to newborn cats can be very helpful because kittens are most vulnerable to Parvovirus. Initial Vaccination sessions usually start at 8 or 9 weeks of age.

A second shot after 3 to 4 weeks can help your cat be strong against the diseases caused by Parvovirus. If you have an adult cat, then make sure that it receives boosters consistently. The advantage of FPV vaccines is that they are often given in combination with vaccines used to prevent other diseases, such as the feline flu virus.

Also, special considerations are important related to FPV vaccines for pregnant cats. Some vaccines may adversely affect unborn kittens. Good hygiene, isolation procedures, and special care must be provided to the infected cats to prevent the spread of the disease. Parvovirus can cause fatal diseases in your cat. For cat owners, it is essential to know the symptoms of the virus and take precautions like vaccinations to prevent diseases caused by it.

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