Feline Herpes: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention

Information to Help Care for Your Pet Cat's Illness

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Feline Rhinotracheitis, or feline herpes, is a virus commonly found in weak kittens or older cats, both domestic and wild. This feline virus is highly infectious and is easily transmitted from an infected cat to an uninfected one. Transmission of the disease is easily accomplished by the uninfected cat coming in contact with the infected cat's body fluids, which are found in the nose, eye or mouth and can be transmitted through sneezing and coughing. Feline herpes can also be found on items exposed to the infected cat, including food and water dishes, cages and litter boxes. Owners can even pass the disease from one cat to another. 

Responsible owners will recognize the symptoms of feline herpes, go to a vet for a diagnosis, have the cat treated and, importantly, vaccinate their cats to prevent cat illnesses in the future.

  1. Symptoms of herpes virus can appear the same as an upper respiratory infection with coughing, sneezing, runny eyes and nose, and a fever. Other feline herpes symptoms present may include an appetite loss and complications with a pregnancy.
  2. If symptoms are present, your catfeline herpes should be seen by a veterinarian, who will make a diagnosis. A diagnosis is generally reached by the veterinarian performing a physical exam on the cat. Laboratory tests on blood samples are also performed to make a positive diagnosis.
  3. After the cat has been diagnosed with feline herpes virus, the veterinarian will prescribe a treatment program. Medical therapy -- antibiotics, anti-viral eye ointments or drops and decongestants -- may be prescribed along with supportive therapy provided by the owner. The owner will need to provide the ill cat with plenty of fresh clean food and water, clean its eyes and nose and keep it warm and comfortable. While giving treatment for herpes, the infected feline should be separated from any other cats in the household to prevent the disease from spreading. Additionally, the owner should also clean all the infected cat's food and water dishes, bedding and anything else the uninfected cats may be exposed to.
  4. The outlook for an adult cat infected with feline herpes is very good, but the owner will still have a sick cat for 7 to 10 days, especially if they choose not to take the feline to the veterinarian for pet care. Medical intervention can cut this time down even more. However, the prognosis for young kittens or older felines is not as promising due to their weakened immune system.
  5. Prevention of feline herpes is as simple as vaccinating your pet cat. Vaccination for this virus begins when the feline is 8 to 10 weeks old. They are given a second dose when they are 12 to 14 weeks old and annually thereafter. With this vaccination given annually, owners should not have to be concerned with this virus infecting any of their cats.

Providing proper cat care and addressing health problems early can help treat feline herpes and keep your kitty healthy and happy!


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