Select a Topic
- What is Feline Flu?
- What Causes Feline Flu?
- Diagnosing Feline Flu
- Help for Feline Flu
- More Information on Feline Flu
What is Feline Flu?
Feline flu is a type of respiratory infection that frequently affects cats and is very similar to cold and flu symptoms that humans experience. This infection typically affects the upper respiratory tract – eyes, nose, mouth and windpipe, and can also infect the bronchi and lungs. Your cat will definitely not be feeling his best and this episode of flu will most likely cause quite a bit of discomfort.
It is caused by various viruses which are highly contagious. The feline flu virus can be transmitted directly through sneezing and the secretion of certain bodily fluids such as eye and nose discharges as well as saliva. It may also be spread indirectly on food bowls, bedding, litter boxes and grooming brushes. This virus tends to flourish in areas where lots of cats gather such as cat shows, catteries, rescue shelters or feral colonies.
All cats are susceptible to feline flu irrespective if they have been vaccinated or not. Kittens and older cats as well as those suffering from feline leukemia or feline immunodeficiency virus are predisposed.
It is also important to note that once a cat has had feline flu, he will always be a life time carrier of the virus. For this reason, vaccinations against feline flu are vital – without regular vaccinations against the virus, your cat may contract a lung infection, pneumonia leading to death.
The common symptoms and signs of feline flu include:
- Eye problems
- Runny eyes or nose
- Mouth, tongue, lip and gum ulcers
- Breathing difficulties
- Poor appetite together with loss of smell
- Joint pain
What Causes Feline Flu?
Feline flu is usually caused by two viruses, feline herpes virus (FHV-1) or feline calicivirus (FCV). The feline herpes virus is also known as feline rhinotracheitis (FRV). This strain of virus is more severe than feline calicivirus and infects the eyes, nose, sinuses, pharynx and throat. Feline calicivirus infects the mouth, tongue, nose, eyes, joints, paws and may also fever and depression.
Diagnosing Feline Flu
The diagnosis of feline flu is based on the symptoms presented, a thorough diagnosis and review of your cat’s medical history. In order to ascertain the cause of feline flu, swab samples of your cat’s eyes and mouth may be taken and sent to the laboratory to identify viruses or bacteria.
Help for Feline Flu
Although viral infections cannot be cured, treatment involves administering various medications and a lot of supportive care. Your vet may prescribe medications such as antibiotics or eye drops. Vaccinations are also extremely important to protect your cat against feline flu.
While adult cats should be vaccinated against feline flu annually, kittens should receive their first vaccination shot at 8 weeks old which should be followed by another shot a few weeks later. In severe cases if your cat experiences eating or drinking difficulties, intravenous therapy may be required. Isolating your cat to a cattery may be necessary to avoid infection of other cats.
You will need to follow your vet’s instructions carefully to provide supportive care for your cat. Make sure that your cat’s sleeping environment is warm, comfortable, stress-free and well ventilated. Keep this area as sanitary as possible and clean litter boxes regularly.
Wipe away eye and nose discharge with salt water. Feed your cat palatable and smelly foods such as pilchards in small amounts throughout the day and ensure that fresh, clean water is always available. Lavish your furry friend with plenty of love and attention to speed recovery.
More Information on Feline Flu
Tips to prevent feline flu
There are several ways to prevent and control the symptoms of feline flu and these include:
- Feed your pet high quality commercial food or a natural diet without preservatives, additives or colorants
- Provide fresh, clean water daily and encourage your cat to drink regularly
- Keep your cat healthy and fit by exercising him regularly
- Make sure your cat’s vaccinations are updated regularly, especially if you intend on breeding, showing or sending your cat to a boarding cattery
- Wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling your cat
- Maintain a hygienic environment – regularly disinfect your pet’s food and water bowls,as well as their sleep area and litter box
- If your cat develops feline flu, let him enter the bathroom to inhale the steam from your bath or shower – this will help to relieve nasal congestion
- Avoid contact between your cat and other cats if they have feline flu
- Strengthen your pet’s immune system with immune-building supplements
- Visit your vet regularly for routine check ups to ensure overall health and wellbeing