Please Help My Cat Who Has Herpesvirus

CatChannel veterinary expert Arnold Plotnick, DVM, shares treatment ideas for cat herpesvirus.

By Arnold Plotnick, DVM | Posted: July 8, 2011, 3 a.m. EDT

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Q: I have a 7-year-old cat. Over the past two years, she has developed what the vets believe is a herpesvirus infection. It has presented as a corneal lesion in my cat's left eye. We have taken my cat to a veterinary ophthalmologist in Indianapolis as well. We have been putting compounded antiviral drops and antibiotics in my cat's eye for the last three months.

If the cat vet wants to do surgery, will that eliminate any reoccurrence of this lesion? Could we give her L-lysine or something to boost my cat's immune system so she can heal more quickly? We want to do everything we can to help get her healed. I would appreciate your response to anything you feel might help her.

A: It’s hard to say, based solely on your description, if surgery will cure your cat's problem. If a veterinary ophthalmologist thinks that this is a herpesvirus-induced problem, then I would imagine that recurrence
is theoretically possible, since there is no way to completely eliminate the herpesvirus from the cat’s body. The decision to do surgery shouldn’t be solely based on whether this will cure the cat. Surgery may be necessary simply to give your cat some relief if the eye problem is causing significant discomfort.

Lysine has been shown to be beneficial in helping cats recover more quickly from herpesvirus infections. Oral antiviral drugs, like famciclovir, have also been shown to be beneficial. If topical medications, such as antiviral and antibiotic drops, aren’t being very effective, then oral antiviral medication may be warranted. I would follow the ophthalmologist’s advice, since this is his area of expertise.
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Reader Comments

Anon    City, CA

7/10/2011 3:05:11 PM

Interesting article.

Bill & Lorraine    Manhattan, NY

7/10/2011 2:28:53 PM

Thank You for the article.

debby    oxford, MN

7/9/2011 11:36:55 AM

i feel for you and i hope you decide to do what is best, kitty in the same boat as me, i am having face surgery to remove more melonoma the second time but more of it, it might come back again. you will be in my prayers

J    Tucson, AZ

7/8/2011 11:23:55 PM

It would be interesting to know if this cat has had any mouth infections. Some of the herpes viruses that infect the mouth, move into the eyes. Also, I wonder if this person's vet suggested to start giving it L-Lysine now and not wait. It is an amino acid supplement which won't hurt the cat. From the studies done on cats who have a herpes virus and are given L-Lysine, theres 3 different outcomes. It either has absolutely no affect on the virus at all. Secondly, it can help for awhile, and then looses its effect. Third, it can help the cat get over the virus, and it never returns. There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason as to why the L-Lysine works a particular way on one cat but not another.

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