Infection Alert

Your cat's cold can be deadly without timely treatment. Learn the facts about herpes virus and calcivirus.

By Brenda McClelland, DVM, & Narda G. Robinson, DO, DVM | Posted: Thu Mar 4 00:00:00 PST 2004

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Cats that recover from the respiratory illness can develop a chronic infection in the oral cavity, shedding FCV continuously from the mouth and infecting other cats. Some cats stop shedding the virus weeks to months after the initial infection, but a few shed the virus their entire lives.

"Oral ulcers lead to secondary bacterial infections," said Janet Foley, DVM, an infectious-disease specialist at the University of California at Davis veterinary school. "They are also painful, so cats stop eating."

"Mortality in young cats is associated with delay in treatment," Foley said. However, as opposed to other respiratory viruses, "there are the least number of treatment options for this virus."

Vaccinate your cat for herpes and calicivirus starting at 8 weeks of age. They receive boosters as adults, but the specific vaccine protocol depends on your cat's living situation. Vaccinate indoor-only cats or those with limited outdoor exposure less often than free-roaming cats, usually every 3 years or more. Current vaccines do not protect against the hemorrhagic strain of calicivirus.

Bottom line: Early identification and treatment can make all the difference in your cat's cold. Don't hesitate to seek veterinary help.

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Reader Comments

Judy    Las Vegas, NV

10/10/2009 3:18:28 PM

I was wondering where I could take my cat to get the shots that were mentioned here in this story. I have no vet to go to. How much does it cost for these cat shots, as I am limited in my finances.
Thank-you

janet    bethlehem, PA

9/17/2009 4:47:27 AM

good article thanks

Michele    Akron, OH

4/21/2009 11:05:43 AM

Very informative.

Donna    Austin, TX

7/28/2008 7:21:44 AM

Very informative. Thank you

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