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

Catalina Seymour    Temle City, CA

9/27/2011 7:21:10 AM

we adapted two months old and she has the same sintoms as your letter.She has seen a vet as soon as i got her.she is taking antiobiotics and some eye drops.she is eating,likes to play,but she wakes up at midnight.maybe because the envoriament is new to her.thank you for your letter.Catalina

Doug    Melbourne, FL

2/23/2009 4:47:16 PM

Our recently adopted kitten (adopted fromj a local shelter) did have the herpes virus. Fortunately we recognized that she was sick and got her to our vet in short order. Her synptoms were exactly as you have described. With several doses of an antibiotic and eye drops she now seems to be fine.

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