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Feline Herpes

How to Care for Your Cat with FVR

By Mary Kearl. June 05, 2013 | See Comments

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    PetCareRx Staff Veterinarian

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Feline Herpes

Feline herpes is a common cause of respiratory infections in cats, and is a condition for life. It can usually be easily treated, however. Learn how here.

Is your cat showing signs that bear a striking resemblance to the human cold? The culprit may be feline herpes or feline viral rhinopneumonitis (FVR)—a virus most cats come in contact with sometime during their lives. It is one of the main causes of feline upper-respiratory infections.

Symptoms of Feline Herpes

Signs of feline herpes include sneezing, nasal discharge, tearing of the eyes, eye ulcers, being stuffed up, fever, depression, disinterest in eating, drooling, squinting, and fatigue—all of which can last up to 10-14 days. Note that some cats may not exhibit noticeable symptoms, and some issues, such as squinting or watery or red eyes, may slip by unobserved. 

Related conditions can develop, including scarring, cornea issues (such as chronic blood vessels developing), tearing of the eyes, and dry eye.

Causes

Germs transmitted via discharge from the eyes, nose, and mouth of infected cats spread easily, particularly amongst pets who share litter boxes, water and food bowls, and grooming areas and tools. At birth, kittens can also inherit the condition from their mothers. The disease may also be easily passed along in shelters and other places with a high concentration of cats. It’s worth noting that cats who may not show signs of feline herpes may still have the condition and therefore may be able to pass the problem onto others who in turn may—or may not—suffer with symptoms.

Cats living in crowded or stressful environments may be more likely to get feline herpes. Flat-faced breeds, like Persians, and kittens are more likely to have weak immunity and as such may be more susceptible to the virus.

Treating Cats with Feline Herpes

Any time a cat seems to be having respiratory issues, it’s recommended to set up a vet appointment; however, sneezing alone will not likely require treatment.

The goals of treating feline herpes are to stop the virus from replicating and, to the extent that is possible, eliminate the virus altogether. With the aim of preventing a repeat visit of symptoms from the virus, a vet may propose a treatment of L-lysine, an amino acid nutraceutical.

Antibiotics or antiviral meds may also be prescribed. Eye drops or creams may be used to limit the pain and discomfort associated with the symptoms of feline herpes. As always, follow the vet’s directions and do not give your cat medications without the vet’s approval.

The condition is for life. Even after treatment, a cat may have flare-ups. For instance, stress and anxiety may lower your cat’s immunity, prompting the return of symptoms. If that’s the case for your cat, help your loved one avoid any unnecessary discomfort by keeping stressors—obnoxious noise, dramatic changes to the routine—to a minimum.

Follow-up appointments are often necessary to track a patient’s progress and to keep the disease in check.

More on Cat Care

5 Common Cat Medications
Top 7 Adopted Cat Health Problems
Antibiotics for Cats

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

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Feline Herpes at a glance

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  • 1Feline herpes spreads easily among cats and is common; but it can't be passed to humans or other animals.
  • 2Similarly, cats are not affected by human herpes.
  • 3Getting vaccinated could help your cat avoid catching feline herpes, but vaccines do not protect all cats.
  • 4The condition is chronic and, even after treatment, in a minority of cats, symptoms may reappear.