What is Cat Flu?

What is Cat Flu?

July 4, 2014

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What is cat flu, is a common question asked by many cat owners? It is a term for a feline upper respiratory tract disease, which is just like a cold in humans. It causes a runny nose and eyes, and a sore throat. Other symptoms can include aches and pains in the muscles and joints, mouth ulcers, dribbling or sneezing, fever and a loss of voice.

Cat flu is not usually serious in adult cats, although it can make them quite ill. If your cat shows symptoms of cat flu, it should be taken to a vet immediately. Symptoms include your cat seeming sick, miserable and lethargic, lacking in energy and not eating or playing as normal.

Cat flu cannot be spread to humans so there is no risk of you becoming ill when your cat has flu or a cold.

What is Cat Flu – Causes?

Cat flu is caused by several organisms, the most common of which are feline herpes virus (FHV), feline calicivirus (FCV), feline reovirus, Bordetella bronchiseptica, and feline Chlamydophila. FHV and FCV are by far the most common cause of cat flu and are responsible for over 75% of cases. FHV is typically the more severe of the two. If you want to consult a vet about “what is cat flu” and its treatment, please search for a vet on Total Pets.

How is Cat Flu spread?

Inhaling airborne droplets sneezed or coughed out by infected cats is the most common cause of a cat flu infection.

Cats suspected of being carriers should be isolated and handled with care when in any multi-cat household or in boarding facilities.

In a home environment, food bowls, litter trays and toys of cat flu infected cats should be treated separately.

What is Cat Flu – Can it be prevented?

There are many different strains of the cat flu virus and, as with human flu, a vaccine is not effective against them all. Two doses of vaccine are needed initially, followed up with regular boosters. Always consult your vet for diagnosis and treatment. It is very important to remember that your cat will need to be fully vaccinated if is going to a boarding facility.

What is Cat Flu -Diagnosing

The infectious agents that are the cause of cat flu can be identified from a variety of tests including isolation from swabs and, in some cases, from blood tests. Interpretation of some test results can be misleading, in that some of the viruses that can show signs of cat flu may also be found in healthy, unaffected animals. This can mean that a cat’s immune system may have been compromised for it to develop the virus.

In cases unresponsive to conventional treatment or in prolonged cases, it is often recommended that screening for the presence of feline leukaemia virus (FeLV) or feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) is carried out, as these may compromise immune response and so make recovery more difficult.

How long does Cat Flu last?

Feline herpes virus (FHV) symptoms usually last for around 7 -14 days, and feline calicivirus (FCV) symptoms usually last for around 7 – 10 days.

Will my cat be a carrier of Cat Flu?

Once a cat has recovered from cat flu they can continue to shed the virus, especially if they are stressed. So although they may not show any of the symptoms of the virus, they may well be a carrier of the virus.

With feline herpes virus (FHV) the cat can be a carrier for life, whereas with feline calicivirus (FCV) the cat can remain a carrier for at least one month after infection. Over 50% of infected cats eliminate the virus after 2-3 months, while most cats eliminate the virus completely after 18 months.

Rescue Catteries and Cat Flu

Cat flu can be a serious problem where a group of cats is kept together, particularly if new cats are regularly introduced. Preventing cat flu in a group of cats is quite complex and consultation with a vet is essential.

Airborne droplets from a sneeze can transmit infection over many metres, so newly-introduced cats – even if they seem healthy – should be separated from resident cats for a minimum of 14 days, and they should always be vaccinated before being allowed to mix with other cats. If there is a problem with cat flu in a group of cats, it is recommended to not introduce any further cats to the group. It is also best to keep mothers with kittens isolated until the kittens are ready to be homed.

Further reading on what is cat flu

Wikipedia – Feline viral rhinotracheitis?


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