The parvovirus test kit showing positive is a dreadful result. The vet says there’s no cure. Antibiotics can only treat secondary infections.
I know this is a tough one. In the past, I was unaware of how important vaccinations were. My two (out of 4) cats became infected. One after the other.
Thankfully, both my parvo cats survived. All 4 cats in my home are now vaccinated.
This article compiles vet recommendations and my personal experience in helping my cats recover from parvovirus.
What we’ll cover are:
- Complete home treatment details to give your cat the best fighting chance at beating parvovirus
- 2 parvo case studies (severe vs. less severe) based on my recovered cats
- Household SOPs to prevent further spread of parvo in your home, especially if you have multiple cats
- FAQs on parvovirus
A few notes before we begin:
- Cat parvo shows similar symptoms to other diseases (e.g. vomiting, poor appetite).
Do not use this article’s recommendations to treat what you assume is parvo because of Googled info.
The only way to diagnose parvo is via a test kit. Vets will use a Q-tip to take a sample of stool from your cat’s anus to confirm the presence of parvovirus.
- This article assumes you have antibiotics on hand, as prescribed by your vet after the parvo diagnosis.
Any complementary treatment methods suggested here are not substitutes for an actual vet visit.
Key Question: What is the survival rate of parvo in cats?
Answer from my vet: “Recovery is mostly a 50-50 chance. It all comes to the cat’s immune system. What we can do is give antibiotics to treat secondary bacterial infections, and ensure that the cat stays hydrated.
Owners can give glucose water to maintain the cat’s blood sugar levels. In severe cases where the cat can’t eat or drink, we’ll put them on IV fluids.”
Overall, it’s not a happy probability. But there’s still that 50% chance of recovery – and we’re going to take it.
Treating Cats with Parvo: Your Two Priorities
It’s human to be a worried mess when your cat is ill. To stay calm and level-headed, set 2 goals clearly in mind:
Goal #1: You’re here to help your cat get the nutrients and energy he/she needs.
While fighting parvo, your cat’s body still needs “supplies” to maintain blood sugar levels and perform basic vital functions. Your focus is to help them get this intake (food/glucose water), and boost their immune system in the process.
Goal #2: You’re here to make your cat feel as comfortable as possible, to the best of your abilities.
Parvo symptoms vary in severity, but if your cat can rest and sleep for a while, it will be a comfort despite such circumstances.
For example, think about the time you got terrible food poisoning … If someone can help you stop the vomiting urge and loosen your stiff muscles, you’d still feel terrible – but you can at least sit down, close your eyes and let your exhausted body rest and heal for a moment.
Parvovirus: Home Treatment Summary
Let’s first run through what home treatment involves so you have the overall idea:
1. Vet-prescribed medicine
After diagnosis, your vet will prescribe meds like antibiotics, etc. Most of these come in tablet form.
Here are 5 ways on how to give your cat the pill (all tried and tested on my cats).
2. Food to encourage appetite
Have your cat’s usual variety of kibble and canned wet food on hand.
You can also purchase some fresh chicken or fish meat and water sauté them. For cats, nothing beats the smell of freshly cooked meat!
3. Fresh water to encourage drinking
Water helps your cat stay hydrated after the vomiting and drooling.
Whenever possible, change your cat’s water to a completely fresh bowl after you noticed them drinking from it.
This fresh-of-the-freshest kind of water encourages them to drink more.
As tedious and silly as this sounds, it’s still far easier than syringe feeding when your cat doesn’t want to drink water on his/her own.
4. Ensure your cat’s environment is warm, dry and clean.
If there’s been vomiting or lots of drooling in the cage, remember to change your cat’s rug, cushion or bedding to fresh ones.
Also, when cats are very sick, they tend to hide in cold, dark or humid corners. It’s a survival instinct: hide when you’re weak, so you’re not targeted by predators.
Do not leave them be. Carry them out even if they protest a little. They’ll only feel even worse if they’re left there for hours.
5. Glucose water
More details will be provided in Case Study B.
6. Tellington TTouch bodywork
More details will be provided in Case Study B.
Cat Parvo Treatment at Home
Case Study A: Gabe (Less Severe Parvo Case)
- Male, 4 years old
- Medium-sized cat. Weight: 5.6kg
- An old hind paw injury left him with a constant limp. A physical disability. Otherwise, no prior health issues.
Parvo symptoms shown
- Poor appetite. Rejected kibble and wet food but shows interest in fresh homecooked meat.
- Diarrhea and vomit – only once. This happened a day before his parvo test confirmation
- Drooling from both corners of the mouth, but no foam.
- Tired. Resting most of the time but not sleeping.
- Fed antibiotic tablets as prescribed using Pilling Method 1.
- To encourage eating, we offered steamed fish and water sauté chicken. (A quick water sauté helps retain the sweetness of the meat, making it more enticing for cats.)
- All food is given in small, frequent meals – every 3 hours or so, depending on his appetite. We were careful not to overfeed him. If he ate too much and ended up throwing up, the effort into food preparation would be in vain.
Record of Gabe’s recovery progress
|Day 1 (came back from vet visit)||Fed medicine, freshly steamed fish and boiled chicken.|
All food is given in small meals.
|Only had appetite for ¼ of his normal amount. Willing to eat food when offered from palm, but not bowl.|
Tired most of the time.
|Day 2||Same as Day 1.||Same as Day 1.|
|Day 3||Fed medicine, freshly cooked meat and reintroduced wet food.||Shows significant interest in food. |
Still some drooling. But overall behavior suddenly returned to normal.
|Day 4||Continued medicine.|
Food given goes back to normal kibble and wet food.
|Active and happy. Still some mild drooling every few hours.|
|Day 5 and onwards||Complete prescribed medication. Usual food is given.||Behavior is all normal. Drooling fully stopped on Day 7.|
The positive (but oddly sudden) change in behavior on Day 3 is described as the cat “breaking through” the virus. There’s a high chance of recovery from here on out.
A week after full recovery, Gabe was sent for his first vaccination appointment.
Case Study B: Quacky (Severe Parvo Case)
- Male, 2 years old
- Small-sized cat. Weight: 3.2kg
- Has breathing issues since a kitten but can go about daily life without problems. The vet suspects it’s a physical problem related to his diaphragm.
Parvo symptoms shown
- Vomiting at least once every hour during the night. This was a day before his parvo confirmation.
- Drooling and foaming at his mouth, non-stop. Once it was wiped dry, the drool and foam were immediately produced again.
- Zero appetite. All food smells, even just nearby, triggers his urge to vomit.
- Tired and weak. He couldn’t lie down because he threw up every hour. Also unable to rest due to constant drooling and foaming.
Due to the severity of his case, Quacky’s treatment is much more complex. Each method is given its own sub-section, as follows:
1. Feeding pills
I gave the pills to Quacky using Method 5. I used a slip tip syringe.
We tried using Method 1, like we did with Gabe. But Quacky bites our fingers and forces himself to throw up to cough the pill out from his throat.
The vet recommended crushing the pills and mixing it into food to syringe feed. However, this couldn’t work either. Whenever food neared Quacky’s nose, he starts gagging, drooling and foaming.
Attempting to force feed just led to a salivary mess on his chin, our clothes, hair, table and floor.
Method 5 isn’t ideal. I’ll be honest: he still spits out half of it in the process because of the taste.
But with water, it was an improvement from all the other ways. There was no gagging and foaming, just normal spitting. In that desperate situation, it was better than nothing.
2. Tellington TTouch bodywork
The Tellington TTouch is a gentle massage mainly comprising of small, circular movements. It’s an excellent way to help ill or special needs animals relax.
The bodywork stimulates acupressure points linked to the stomach intestines, respiration and other areas vital to recovery.
So, my initial intention was to help Quacky relax. What I didn’t expect was for the TTouch to stop his drooling and foaming.
At first, Quacky didn’t want anyone to touch him. But I gently persisted with the massage. I concentrated on applying TTouches on his ears, which is said to help with respiration and digestion. Within 10 to 15 minutes, the drooling and foaming slowly stopped – completely.
He lied down and closed his eyes. I also applied TTouches on his shoulders, front legs and mouth as he gradually relaxed. I continued for another 5 minutes before leaving the area for him to rest. After more than 12 hours of throwing up and drooling, he was finally able to get some sleep.
You can get the full TTouch instructions on House Rabbit Society’s website. (If the link isn’t working, email me and I’ll send you a PDF copy.)
The HRS article is the one I always come back to for the past 6 years. Yes, it’s a rabbit site, but the method is essentially the same across many furry species.
After the TTouch, Quacky’s fur remained dry – no foaming – until 3 hours later.
I applied the TTouch again, for 15 minutes. The drooling and foaming stopped. Again.
This happened two more times. Same positive results.
With these observations, I developed a routine: I provided 5-minute TTouches every 1 to 1½ hours, before any gagging, drooling or foaming even started.
For several nights, I got a mattress out and slept next to his cage. I set an alarm and woke up every 1 to 2 hours to apply the TTouches.
It was certainly exhausting. But if he gagged and foamed non-stop, I had to wake up to dry his fur anyway. Might as well wake up on time, ensure he was comfortable and calm, and go back to sleep knowing he’s resting calmly until the next session.
3. Glucose water
This is a vet recommendation. Glucose water helps maintain your cat’s blood sugar levels, hydrate them and provide a source of energy.
This is extremely helpful and important for cats who have zero appetite and stopped eating. You can purchase glucose powder from human pharmacies.
A sick cat probably isn’t a fan of anything orange or grape-flavored, so I chose the “original” flavor one for Quacky. It tastes like very bland sugar.
Glucose/water ratio for cats: Mix 1 flat teaspoon of glucose in 1 cup of water.
How much glucose water to feed: Since Quacky was drinking plain water on his own, I gave two 3ml syringes of glucose water, 3 to 4 times a day. You can ask your vet to confirm how much your cat needs.
Those syringes of glucose solution were a lifesaver for Quacky. Although the TTouches stopped the drooling, he was getting weaker because he couldn’t eat anything.
The glucose water was crucial in giving him energy, and he was able to walk around and stretch himself more.
4. Reintroducing food
For cats with no appetite, the common recommendation is to offer strong, scented food like tuna.
It didn’t work in Quacky’s case. On Day 3, we placed freshly cooked chicken and broth in a far corner of the isolation room. He walked towards the food, bent his head over the bowl and immediately gagged. Like a pregnant lady having smelled something nauseous.
Since heavily scented food didn’t work, I tried offering kibble instead. Kibble was dry and I didn’t have to worry about flies or it suddenly going bad.
I took the chicken meat away and placed some kibble on a rug. I tried between different flavors – what I had on hand was Natural Core Multi-Protein Organic 95% and Bene M70.
He sniffed them multiple times. No gagging, which was good. It was the evening when he finally started eating the Bene M70 kibble, one at a time.
Record of Quacky’s recovery progress
|Day 1 (came back from vet visit)||Fed medicine. Started giving TTouches around 3.30pm.|
Increased TTouch frequency to every 1 to 1½ hours night time onwards.
|No appetite, but drinks water.|
Stopped throwing up after receiving injection at the vet’s, but still endless drooling and foaming. Drooling only stopped after receiving TTouch.
|Day 2||Daytime & Nighttime TTouch – every 1 to 2 hours. |
Bought Glucolin – began syringe feeding glucose water.
|Still no appetite. Gags at all food smell. |
Does not drool and foam as long as TTouches are applied consistently every hour or so.
Shows slightly more energy after consuming glucose water.
|Day 3||Daytime TTouch – every 2 hours. |
Nighttime TTouch – every 4 hours.
Glucose water – 6ml per session, 3 to 4 times a day.
|No appetite. Gags at wet food and freshly cooked meat. Does not gag at kibble. Began eating around 4pm. |
Total kibble quantity ate: 10 (Yes, 10 kibble. Not 10 grams.)
|Day 4||Daytime TTouch – every 3 hours. |
Nighttime TTouch – every 4 to 5 hours.
Increased kibble amount.
|Meows at meal hours. Shows clear signs of interest at kibble but easily full after eating. Still rejects wet food.|
Total kibble ate: 8g, split into 4 meals.
|Day 5||Daytime TTouch – every 4 hours. |
Nighttime TTouch – once at 1am.
Increased kibble amount.
|Meows at meal hours. Shows appetite but still rejects all wet food. |
Total kibble ate: 12g, split into 4 meals.
Healthy poop produced before human’s bedtime – finally!
|Day 6||Daytime TTouch – every 5 hours. |
Increased kibble amount.
|Total kibble eaten: 15g, split into 4 meals. |
Began eating wet food (tuna): 40g.
|Day 7||Daytime TTouch – every 5 hours. |
Increased food amount.
|Kibble – 20g. |
Wet food (tuna) – 45g. Also ate small portion of freshly steamed fish.
|Day 7 onwards||Daytime TTouch – every 5 hours. |
Slowly increase food back to normal amount.
|Condition stable. Shows appetite in all food. Meows loudly and excitedly whenever it’s mealtime. |
Poop – all normal.
When Quacky was first confirmed to have parvo, his prognosis wasn’t good, given that he couldn’t eat anything and threw up at any scent of food.
Through a combination of these treatment methods, he survived and pulled through successfully.
Like Gabe, we arranged for Quacky’s vaccination a week after his full recovery.
How to Prevent Cat Parvo Spreading at Home
Parvovirus is transmitted via direct contact with faeces, or indirectly through contaminated surfaces. It is a highly contagious disease among cats.
To prevent spreading, practice these SOPs in your home when you’re caring for your parvo cat:
1. Isolate your parvo cat completely if you have multiple cats in your home.
2. Ideally, arrange to have another person care for your healthy cats, while you care for the parvo one.
3. Use the same food and water bowl and for the sick cat. The same goes for bedding, blankets, etc. Do not rotate these items among other healthy cats.
4. Get your healthy cats vaccinated as soon as possible, if they aren’t.
Additional to-dos If you’re the sole caretaker:
1. Spritz your hand, arms and legs (exposed parts) with a 1:32 bleach solution before handling your healthy cats. Soap, Dettol, or any other common disinfectant, doesn’t work.
2. Prepare a set of clothing to wear when you handle your parvo cat, and change to another set when you handle the other healthy ones.
3. Wear a pair of slippers when you enter the parvo isolation room. Parvo is transmitted primarily via faeces and well, cats naturally sit on their butts … Your bare feet walking around has the chance of transmitting the virus from the isolation room to elsewhere in your house.
FAQs on Cat Parvovirus
1. Can humans get parvo from cats?
No, feline parvovirus is contagious among cats only. You won’t get infected. You can be in close contact with your cat as usual to take care of him/her.
2. Upon recovery, how long before I can let my cat join the group again?
In a multi-cat household, ensure that all your cats have completed their vaccination fully, and that protection has been fully activated, before allowing them to interact with each other again.
3. How to kill parvovirus?
Once your parvo cat moves out from the isolation room, use a 1:32 ratio bleach to water to clean the living area, your cat’s cage, everything that your parvo cat used during that period completely.
4. Bleach smells. Can I use Dettol or any other cleaning agent to kill parvo? Aren’t they powerful disinfectants, too?
From one cat owner to another … No, it can’t work. This was probably what caused the initial spread in my home. We did not disinfect our hands and the first parvo cat’s living area with bleach.
Do not repeat my mistake. Do not take this virus lightly.
After Quacky was diagnosed with parvo, the vets wouldn’t let any other cats into the consultation room until they disinfected it thoroughly, even though his entire body didn’t even touch the examination table. He was in the pet carrier the whole time. Goes to show how concerning the virus is.
5. Can cats get parvo after recovery?
Unlikely, because they would have developed antibodies. But it’s not a guarantee.
Caring for a parvo cat is a chaotic, stressful process that costs you money, time and suffering for both you and your cat.
Just vaccinate. Vaccination saves all these worries and prevents your cat from facing the same problem again.
Treating Cat Parvo At Home Successfully
If you’ve made it this far, I hope these tips help your cat with his/her fight against parvovirus.
Remember your priorities. Help your cat get a source of energy intake – whether it’s food or glucose water. Also, help them feel as comfortable as possible.
Take a deep breath. Do the best you can.
A 50% recovery. Let’s take that chance. Every effort you put in is a positive factor to turn things around.
I’ve been there and that was what I did. I wish you and your cat the best of luck. Sending healing vibes your cat’s way!