Your cat will come into contact with bacteria and parasites on a regular basis. And when it comes to feline viral infections, once it enters a cat’s body – it takes command of the cat’s own cells to begin reproducing and spreading the virus throughout the body. Sometimes, the host cells are killed off and the assault will result in various forms of viral infection – at other times, the virus can remain dormant or as a mild infection in your cat for many years without any outward or physical signs.
Some feline viruses are very resilient and don’t respond well to treatment, while others such as cat flu can be treated and destroyed easily. Preventing feline viral infections with regular vaccinations is the most effective way to combat the many forms of this group of feline disease. Since antifungals and antibiotics will have no effect on viruses, your veterinarian will need to diagnose the specific virus infection and provide clinical treatment with antiviral drugs, if possible.
Common Feline Viral Infectious Diseases
FELINE HERPES (FVR)
Feline herpes is the leading cause of upper respiratory infections in cats and is also know as FVR or feline viral rhinopneumonitis. FVR will affect most cats at some point in their lives. Common symptoms include watery eyes, nasal discharge, sneezing, fever, and fatigue. This virus is often spread among cats that share the same food, water, or litter box.
The virus is usually transferred to a cat from the body secretions of an infected cat, or passed to new born kittens from the mother. The virus can be spread by any discharge from the mouth, nose, or eyes of an infected cat. Since this virus is incurable, treatment will focus on managing the disease and any accompanying symptoms. Your vet may prescribe antiviral or antibiotic medicines to limit the progression of FVR and other medications to manage discomfort and discharge symptoms.
FELINE CALICIVIRUS (FCV)
Often, upper respiratory, oral, or eye infections in cats are caused by Feline Calicivirus (FCV). There are over 40 strains of this virus, with the severity of each being the main difference. If your cat has nasal congestion, sneezing, or eye and nose discharge, along with lip, tongue, or nose ulcers, FCV may be the underlying cause.
FCV is very contagious and is spread between cats by secretions from the body. As with FVR, the secondary infections and other symptoms are treated, as there is no cure for FCV. Your veterinarian may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications along with antibiotics to reduce fevers and symptoms. Increasing your cat’s water intake is important to avoid dehydration.
FELINE IMMUNODEFICIENCY VIRUS (FIV)
When a cat’s immune system has been weakened, the culprit may be Feline Immunodeficiency Virus or FIV. The seriousness of this virus is when your cat’s natural defense system is so compromised that the pet is left exposed to other potentially fatal viral infections. If your cat is experiencing weight loss, fatigue, fever, and multiple infections, FIV may be the underlying cause.
Open wounds are commonly the point of initial infection, as FIV is spread via blood or saliva from one cat to another. This incurable virus is managed with routine visits aimed at strengthening your cat’s immune system. Dietary changes, antiviral medications, and specific supplements are used to manage symptoms and prevent other infections from arising.
If your cat is displaying the symptoms of a viral infection, contact your University Animal Hospital for a complete diagnosis and custom treatment plan for your pet. We offer a full range of specialty services from dentistry to laser surgery, and state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment, including endoscopy, digital x-rays, ultrasounds and EKGs. Inquire about pet grooming, preventative pet care, and boarding services. For medical emergencies, call 480-968-9275 or bring your pet directly to the hospital.