Can Cats Get Parvo from Dogs? The Parvovirus Signs & Symptoms

There are many misconceptions about parvoviruses when it comes to parvo in cats. This article will take a closer look at the disease while addressing many frequently asked questions and concerns in order to understand the nuances of the parvovirus as observed in cats and dogs. Can cats get parvo from dogs?

Continue reading for useful information, such as signs and symptoms of species-specific parvovirus strains, how to protect dogs and cats, and other helpful pet care tips.

Can cats get parvo from dogs?

Can cats get parvo from dogs
Can cats get parvo from dogs

Cats can contract parvovirus from dogs. Researchers discovered that canine parvovirus is contagious from dogs to cats and vice versa in a 2012 study of canine parvovirus in asymptomatic feline carriers. While it is uncommon and unlikely, it is possible.

For many years, it was assumed that dogs got canine parvovirus and cats got feline panleukopenia virus, a closely related and similar disease (FPV). New strains of canine parvovirus emerged and mutated over time, and scientists discovered it could infect the cells of cats.

Despite the fact that parvo could infect cat cells in a laboratory setting, it was assumed that this would not occur in the real world where dogs and cats coexist.

This perception shifted in 2012 when Simon Clegg and colleagues published their study titled “Canine parvovirus in asymptomatic feline carriers.”

In other words, scientists believe that cats can contract parvo from a puppy or a dog.

The study conducted the following research to reach this conclusion:

In an animal shelter that housed both dogs and cats, 180 fecal samples were collected from 74 cats.

Canine parvovirus was found in 34% of the fecal samples from the cats.

All positive samples contained viable, infectious virus, which was isolated in cell cultures of both canine and feline origin.

The bottom line is that parvo is almost always transmitted from dog to dog. However, based on the findings of this study, we should be more cautious about cats catching parvo from dogs, and consider it a real possibility rather than dismissing it out of hand.

*** Read more: Are Acorns Bad For Dogs? Symptoms Of Acorns Poisoning In Dogs

Recognizing virus strains

Recognizing virus strains
Recognizing virus strains

To understand how different parvovirus strains affect cats and dogs, we must first distinguish between canine and feline parvovirus strains. To clarify, Parvovirus is the umbrella term for all viruses in the Parvoviridae taxonomic family. Cats and dogs, on the other hand, have distinct parvovirus strains that are unique to their species. The cat strain is known as the feline panleukopenia virus (FPV), and it poses a serious disease threat to the feline population.

Furthermore, most studies show that FPV cannot be passed on to dogs. However, some research has shown that a mutated strain of the canine parvovirus (CPV) can infect cats. While it is uncommon, cats can contract parvovirus from dogs. For example, if a parvo outbreak occurs in an animal shelter, there is a risk of cross-contamination. As a result, if a cat has had contact with a parvo-infected dog, the cat should be considered potentially contagious and quarantined from other animals for at least several weeks.

So, what is the distinction between viruses?

According to veterinary and animal research, the DNA sequences of FPV and CPV differ by only 0.5 percent. Despite their similarities, each virus strain has distinct acute characteristics:

FPV (Feline Panleukopenia Virus): FPV, also known as feline distemper, feline infectious enteritis, cat typhoid, and cat fever, is a potentially fatal, highly contagious viral disease that is closely related to canine parvovirus. This aggressive virus attacks blood cells in the body, primarily those in the bone marrow, skin, and intestine. FPV essentially kills the body’s defense cells. Aside from anemia, this virus can put the cat at risk for other infections, both bacterial and viral.

Besides, it is a very resilient cat disease that can survive in contaminated environments for years. According to the ASPCA, feline panleukopenia is a highly contagious viral disease that affects cats worldwide. In young kittens, estimated mortality rates are 100 percent without treatment – and more than 90 percent with aggressive therapies. Older cats have a better prognosis, but many cats and kittens do not survive.” As a result, FPV vaccinations have proven to be the most effective method of prevention in the feline population.

The parvovirus signs and symptoms

# FPV symptoms

FPV symptoms
FPV symptoms

FPV symptoms include:

  •       Depression
  •       Anemia is characterized by a low red blood cell count
  •       Dehydration
  •       Diarrhea with bloody diarrhea
  •       Hiding
  •       Feverishness
  •       Lethargy
  •       Loss of food interest
  •       Excessive nasal discharge
  •       Neurological signs and symptoms (for example, a lack of coordination)
  •       Coat of rough hair
  •       Vomiting
  •       Loss of weight

It should also be noted that FPV damages the cells that line the intestines severely. Furthermore, it attacks the cat’s lymph nodes and bone marrow, resulting in a lack of all types of white blood cells (panleukopenia) and red blood cells (anemia). Kittens (between the ages of 2–6 months), pregnant cats, and immune-compromised cats are the cats most at risk of developing severe FPV symptoms.

# CPV symptoms

CPV symptoms
CPV symptoms

CPV symptoms include:

  •       Diarrhea with blood
  •       Bloating and abdominal pain
  •       Anorexia nervosa (no appetite)
  •       Dehydration
  •       Gums and eyes that are red
  •       Excessive weight loss
  •       Fever
  •       Thermia (low body temperature)
  •       Chronic fatigue and lethargy
  •       A fast heartbeat
  •       Acute septic shock
  •       Vomiting/nausea

While CPV can be found in almost any environment, not every puppy or dog who comes into contact with it will become infected. In fact, several factors contribute to a dog becoming ill, including his immune status and the number of viruses to which he has been exposed. In other words, the “perfect storm” of factors must be present for a dog to be affected by canine parvo. If this happens and the dog becomes infected, a series of events occur as the parvovirus attacks the dog’s body.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), feline distemper and feline parvo should not be confused with canine distemper or canine parvo; despite their similar names, they are caused by different viruses. Furthermore, viruses do not infect humans.

Canine parvovirus (CPV) infection: Canine parvovirus (CPV) infection is a highly contagious virus that affects the dog population. This viral illness, however, manifests itself in two different strains.

The more common of the two is CPV-1, a highly contagious gastrointestinal type of canine parvo with symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, and a severe lack of appetite (anorexia). The cardiac form of parvovirus in dogs is known as myocarditis, also known as CPV-2 or heart inflammation. This strain, which is often fatal, attacks the heart muscles of canine fetuses and newborn puppies. Canines are extremely vulnerable to both strains of CPV.

Most CPV cases involve puppies between the ages of six and twenty weeks, but older animals are occasionally affected. Fortunately, since the 1970s, when canine vaccinations and boosters for puppies became the norm, the incidence of canine parvo infections has been drastically reduced. It is therefore critical for dog owners to adhere to a basic vaccine schedule in order to prevent canine parvo and other dangerous diseases.

*** Read more: Are Hostas Poisonous to Dogs? Hosta poisoning Treatment

What to know about parvo in cats & dogs: Similarities & differences between canine and feline parvovirus

Similarities & differences between canine and feline parvovirus
Similarities & differences between canine and feline parvovirus

# Similarities

Although the feline and canine strains of parvo are not identical, the virus’s primary similarities for cats and dogs are twofold: how it is spread and the high infectious rate.

Canine parvovirus is highly contagious in dogs and spreads through a variety of routes, including direct dog-to-dog contact or contact with contaminated stool (fecal matter), environments, or people. Parvo in dogs is easily transmitted from place to place, and the virus spreads quickly: the majority of parvo-related deaths in dogs occur 48-72 hours after the onset of the symptoms listed above.

Panleukopenia (also known as feline parvo) is highly contagious in cats and can be transmitted from cat to cat in a variety of ways, including direct contact with another infected cat or through contaminated objects such as a caregiver’s unwashed hands, food and water bowls, toys, clothing, and bedding. The virus can be fatal to unvaccinated cats 48-72 hours after the initial incubation period.

If infected, cats and dogs must be isolated in both cases. Furthermore, all of their belongings, including food and water dishes, blankets, and toys, must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected to prevent the viruses from spreading further. Because the method of transmission for canines and felines is the same – through contaminated objects, a caregiver’s hands, infected kennels, bodily fluids, and/or feces – disinfecting all surfaces is critical for the treatment and recovery of affected animals, as well as a preventative measure to keep both types of virus strains from spreading.

Another similarity between canine and feline parvo is the infection’s symptoms. Both forms of the virus cause severe diarrhea and vomiting, gastrointestinal disturbances, high fevers, and the potential for death due to severe dehydration and secondary infections.

Canine and feline parvo has similar infection symptoms
Canine and feline parvo has similar infection symptoms

# Differences

While there are many similarities between feline and canine parvovirus, it is important to remember that dogs and cats have different strains of the virus. Furthermore, dogs may be exposed to not one, but two distinct strains (CPV-1 and CPV-2). Canine parvo treatments involve boosting the dog’s immune system until the infection is successfully fought off. In the case of felines, treatment may include intravenous fluids and antibiotics in order to give the cat the best chance of survival. In fact, the cat’s chance of survival is entirely dependent on the quality of his veterinary care.

Prevention of parvovirus in cats and dogs

Preventative measures for both dogs and cats have been shown in studies to be far more effective than treating a sick animal. Vaccination is the most common traditional method of parvovirus prevention. While vaccination does not guarantee that a cat or dog will not become infected with the parvovirus, it does significantly reduce the chances of it happening. In any case, it’s critical to consult a trusted veterinarian about any type of parvo treatment for cats and dogs, including vaccinations, health precautions, and other ways to protect a beloved pet from this dangerous virus family.

Frequently Asked Questions

#1. Can adult cats contract parvovirus from dogs?

However, some research has shown that a mutated strain of the canine parvovirus (CPV) can infect cats. While it is uncommon, cats can contract parvovirus from dogs. For example, if a parvo outbreak occurs in an animal shelter, there is a risk of cross-contamination.

#2. What causes parvo in cats?

Feline parvovirus spreads through direct fecal-oral contact as well as indirectly through contamination of the environment or objects (eg. on food dishes, bedding, floors, grooming equipment, clothing, or hands).

#3. Can the parvovirus infect cats?

While dogs cannot catch feline parvovirus from cats, cats can catch canine parvovirus. They typically exhibit much milder clinical symptoms than dogs, but there is a strain of canine parvovirus that can cause severe illness in cats.

#4. Can a kitten recover from parvo?

Regardless of treatment, 95 percent of affected kittens aged two months or less die. Kittens older than two months have a 60–70% mortality rate with treatment and a nearly 100% mortality rate if not treated. Adult cats have a 10–20% mortality rate if they are treated, and an 85 percent mortality rate if they are not treated.

#5. How can parvovirus be avoided in cats?

The primary method of prevention is vaccination. Primary vaccination courses typically begin at the age of eight or nine weeks, with a second injection three to four weeks later. Adult cats should have regular booster shots. FPV vaccines are typically combined with other disease vaccines, such as those for cat flu viruses.


This blog post isn’t meant to scare you because, while research has found that cats can have canine parvovirus in their systems and feces from dogs, the chances of it becoming an epidemic appear to be slim.

Can cats get parvo from dogs? More research is certainly needed, but the bottom line is that cats can carry parvo and will have gotten it from a dog.

Leave a Comment