“Cat flu” is a respiratory disease affecting cats and kittens that is very contagious. Cat flu is caused by certain bacterial and viral infections, of which the two most common are the Feline Herpes Virus 1 (FHV1) and Feline Calicivirus (FCV).
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms can include any or all of the following:
- Discharge from the eyes or nose
- Difficulty breathing
- Loss of appetite
- Ulcers on the mouth or eyes
How is it spread?
“Cat flu” can affect cats of all ages and breeds and is highly contagious. It is transmitted via contact with the eye, nasal, or mouth discharge of an infected cat.
It is also possible that your kitten may have contracted “Cat flu” before you adopted them, but the disease has been dormant and gone unnoticed. Stress can cause the disease to become active. For example; moving house, a new family member or a new neighborhood that they’ve seen in their territory can cause a bout of cat flu.
How can I prevent my kitten from contracting cat flu?
Vaccinate! Vaccination may not prevent infection completely. However, it will ensure less severe symptoms. Kittens can receive their first vaccination from around eight weeks old, generally after which two kitten booster vaccinations are required and from then on a yearly booster. Even if your kitten has already had cat flu before, it’s still important to have them vaccinated to prevent infection with other strains.
If you have multiple cats and one of them contracts the disease, you will need to isolate the sick pet until they are no longer contagious, typically around two weeks. All contaminated food or water bowls, litter trays, bedding, need to be washed separately and your hands need to be disinfected before touching your other cats.
How is cat flu treated?
If you notice your cat has any of the above symptoms it is important to take them to the vet. Although treatment varies and medications are not always required it is important to get your pet assessed so your vet can ensure their comfort and quickest recovery. Your vet can give you advice on nursing care at home and may even need to prescribe antibiotics, anti-viral meds, pain meds, or eye drops.