Feline Parvovirus (also known as Panleukopenia and feline enteritis) is a highly contagious virus which can have devastating consequences on unvaccinated cats and is particularly lethal to young kittens.
With increasing cases of the virus being reported in South Australia, there has never been a more important time to stay informed. We know that pets are family and they should be protected at all costs. We have provided information to support you.
Please carefully read through our frequently asked questions if you have any concerns relating to your cat or kitten.
What is Feline Parvovirus (FPV)?
Also known as Feline Panleukopenia, it is a highly contagious virus similar to parvovirus found in dogs.
How is the virus transmitted?
The virus is primarily transmitted via the faecal-oral route, which occurs from direct contact with faeces, litter trays or food and water bowls. However, the urine, saliva or vomit of an infected cat – along with contaminated surfaces, contaminated humans or other species – are all sources of transmission. People transmitting the virus on their clothing and hands is a common transmission route.
Is the virus treatable?
Yes, but FPV is exceptionally difficult to treat. As the mortality rate in unvaccinated kittens is 90%, immediate veterinary attention is essential to assess affected kittens and discuss treatment options.
What if my cat and I live close to an area where infections have been reported?
Make sure any cats at home have had their yearly vaccination for protection against the virus. If you are unsure, please contact your local veterinarian.
How soon after vaccination are cats protected?
Generally, for kittens, two vaccinations are needed – the first injection at eight to nine weeks of age and the second injection three to four weeks later. The first booster is needed one year later. As with canine parvovirus, protection only occurs two weeks after the last booster vaccination.
In some cases, including kittens in high-risk environments, the third vaccination is recommended at 16-20 weeks old. Veterinarians often stock a modified live vaccine that should offer protection one week after being administered. Booster vaccinations are essential for kittens younger than 16 weeks old to ensure lasting protection. If you are unsure how many boosters your kitten needs, please check with your veterinarian.
Feline Parvovirus is a part of the vaccine series recommended for all cats and provides excellent protection. Adult cats that are up to date on their vaccinations are at minimal risk for this illness.
How long does the virus last?
The virus itself is very resilient in the environment and continues to be shed from affected or recovered cats for up to two months. The virus can persist in the environment for up to one year, including on the surface of food bowls, bedding and litter trays.
The incubation period is between two and 14 days. Clinical signs of the virus are usually visible within five to seven days. The incubation period is the time-frame between the cat’s contact with the virus and the appearance of clinical signs.
How long does the virus last on surfaces?
The virus is highly contagious and can only be removed from surfaces with bleach. It can last on some surfaces for up to one year.
Can my dog catch it?
No, FPV specifically affects felines, so dogs are not at risk of infection – however they can transmit the virus via their feet or fur. It is important to remember dogs are at risk of catching canine parvovirus, an equally serious and potentially fatal condition, and therefore they should also be vaccinated.
Can I catch it?
No, humans cannot catch the virus.
If you have any further questions, please consult your local veterinarian.