Cowpox Virus In Cats Things you need to know.

Cowpox Virus In Cats Photo by Anel Rossouw:

Cowpox is a viral disease that primarily occurs in cattle and other farm animals. The virus is also found in wild rodents, such as voles and squirrels.

Cowpox virus infections in cats are very rare but have been reported. Cowpox is a poxvirus that causes relatively mild diseases in people and other mammals. In cats, cowpox is rare but has been reported. The virus can be transmitted by direct contact with infected animals or from people.

The signs of infection are similar to those of feline vaccinia; however, they tend to be less severe. Cowpox lesions may also occur on the conjunctiva (the membrane covering the eye) and/or in the mouth or nose of infected cats. If your cat does have an outbreak of cowpox, it will likely last only a few weeks at most (sometimes up to six months) and then resolve itself without treatment and pet medication if your pet’s immune system is healthy enough to fight off the infection on its own.

No Specific Treatment Or Vaccine Is Available

There is no specific pet medicine treatment or vaccine available for cowpox in cats. Your veterinarian will diagnose the infection based on your cat’s clinical signs and a skin scraping that reveals the causative organism. The appropriate therapy depends on what type of virus is causing the infection.

A Cat With Suspected Cowpox Should Be Isolated

If you suspect your cat has cowpox, keeping them away from other animals and people is important, and disinfect all the cat’s scratching posts and your cat’s litter boxes. You should isolate the cat in a separate room and avoid letting anyone who is sick or immunocompromised come into contact with the animal until they have been tested for exposure to cowpox. If you do not yet have a diagnosis of cowpox, it is also recommended that you wear gloves when handling your pet so as not to transmit any viruses if they are present in its saliva.

If someone who was exposed to cowpox develops symptoms after coming into contact with your cat, they should immediately report those symptoms to their doctor and inform them of any potential exposure that may have occurred before coming down with the illness themselves.

Several Options For Identifying Causative Organism

Your veterinarian has several options, including antibiotics for cats, for identifying the causative organism, and for determining the appropriate therapy.

  • Test for the presence of the virus in tissues, blood samples, or urine samples. This may be done by taking a sample from the skin lesion and testing it using a variety of techniques that can detect small amounts of viral DNA or RNA or by taking a sample from an affected area (such as lymph nodes) and looking at it under a microscope to see if there are any signs that pox viruses were present.

  • Test for antibodies to cowpox virus in blood samples. To do this test, your veterinarian may take blood from your cat's tail vein or collect it directly from other parts of her body (such as her ears). The blood is then sent to a laboratory where technicians look for specific types of antibodies known as neutralizing antibodies. 

Ask Your Veterinarian About What You Can Do

If you have a cat, you can take a few precautions to protect them from cowpox.

  • Ask your veterinarian about what you can do to protect your pet from cowpox. Vaccination for cats is not currently available, but if your vet sees signs of an outbreak in the area, he or she may recommend that your cat stay indoors and away from other animals that may carry the virus.

  • Keep cats away from rodents, rabbits, and other animals that may carry the virus.

If you think that some people in your family or community have been exposed to cowpox or are infected with the disease (and therefore contagious), keep your cat inside as much as possible until they get better or until they no longer pose a risk of spreading their illness to others.


If you suspect that your pet has cowpox, contact your veterinarian immediately. They will help you determine if your cat has been infected and can start treatment and get them on the right pet meds immediately.

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