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cat flu

Discussion in 'Cat Health and Nutrition' started by jess91, Jan 20, 2012.

  1. jess91

    jess91 PetForums Senior

    Jun 28, 2011
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    can anyone tell me what causes cat flu and if an infected cat ever get rid of it fully? ive been trying to look it up, and from what ive read its caused by either the herpes virus or the calicivirus, is that correct?

    does a cat that has had either of these ever fully get rid of it?
    or could cat flu in some cases just be abit like a human cold that just goes away?
    and if a cat did have either, could they infect other cats even if they are vaccinated?
  2. Ladyjuicy08

    Ladyjuicy08 PetForums Junior

    Jan 1, 2012
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    My cat tested positive for calicivirus he gets regular flare up of conjutivitus because of it . Sometimes his nose gets bunged up so he can't smell his food so havta give him little tuna then to get him to eat . I have another cat and even though it contagious I have not had him tested yet but he never shows any systems even with the conjutivitus which is meant be very contagious and they spend ages grooming each other . But he still a very happy cat not bother on him still causing trouble .:p
  3. classictabby

    classictabby PetForums Newbie

    Sep 23, 2009
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    These 'cat flu' viruses are worse than the common cold and can sometimes be very severe, even deadly, depending on the particular strain. Cats who get the herpes virus do carry it for life and can have lifelong flare ups. A small percentage of cats infected with calicivirus can become lifelong 'carriers' and shed the virus, infecting other cats, forever - and it is highly contagious.

    I took in 4 foster kittens with calicivirus, rescued from a colony that had formed in someone's house. I kept them in in strict isolation yet still managed to pass the virus on to one of my cats who suffered from much more severe symptoms than the kittens - he became lame on his back legs (polyarthritis caused by the virus) and has had trouble with his eyes being very sensitive ever since. My other two cats didn't show any signs of having the virus although they may now be carriers.
    At age 2 1/2 now, the kittens are mainly problem free but two of them have early dental disease which is probably related to having the calicivirus as kittens. One of the kittens (which I kept) was a 'snuffler' for a long time, as damage to her nasal passages was caused by her having developed a secondary bacterial infection due to the virus (but she's much better now and hardly ever sounds snuffly). The fourth kitten (which I also kept) occasionally has inflammation in his throat, causing him to have a croaky voice and sometimes retch and cough, which I suspect is also related to the virus flaring up from time to time.

    Infected cats can infect other cats even if they're vaccinated and even vaccinated cats can contract the virus, although they will probably get less severe symptoms.
    Before I took in the foster kittens, I was very naive about cat flu and didn't realise the long lasting effects that cat flu can cause. I do now:( I was just lucky it wasn't one of the more severe strains of the virus.

    There's some good information on the two flu viruses here:
  4. whispersmum

    whispersmum PetForums Newbie

    Nov 8, 2011
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    My 2yr old Thai Lilac contracted a virulent form of calicivirus at the start of January and was dead 3 days later, despite being hospitalised. His booster was out of date, but the vet said that may not have made any difference, although I'll never know. I've never experienced anything so shocking or horrific. :crying:
  5. sarahdisco

    sarahdisco PetForums VIP

    Jan 4, 2010
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    Hercules contracted cat flu back when he was a kitten (about 10 weeks old) and it left him constantly snuffly and with a watery eye when he gets excited.

    He also has flare ups of what the vet described as a head cold - he's having a flare up at the minute (quieter than usual and sneezing). This is his second flare up so its not too bad but the vet did say he could get worse as he gets older.

    If he's no better by Monday the vets suggested we drop him in. Unless the conjunctivitis starts or his breathing goes worse then he's off to the emergency vet (same practice).

    Last time he just slept it off and was back to normal quickly but I have a feeling it'll be a vet trip this time.

    In terms of infecting each other - cat flu is contagious, we've been lucky that Spartacus hasn't caught it (or the subsequent "colds") but the vet suspected that because Hercules contracted the flu so young it may have weakened his respiratory system so little sniffles seems worse.

    Poor mite is sat in his bed sleeping... he's still eating but he's not a happy chappy.
  6. Treaclesmum

    Treaclesmum PetForums VIP

    Sep 26, 2011
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    Treacle had Calicivirus as a small kitten, and as far as I know it has gone, although he has had worse dental problems with teething than alot of kittens do, but if it can cause all these other issues then I guess I still need to watch to ensure he doesn't have any kind of flare-ups :(
  7. havoc

    havoc PetForums VIP

    Dec 8, 2008
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    Those are the two viruses that kittens/cats are routinely vaccinated for but there are many viruses which cause similar symptoms. Without testing it isn't possible to say for sure in all cases what a cat is suffering from. Testing costs money and can often only be done successfully when the disease is in an active phase. What's more, the treatment is the same for all cat flu like symptoms so it can seem a bit pointless to test. In my opinion it's always worth testing.
  8. Misi

    Misi PetForums VIP

    Jul 13, 2009
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    Misi's a calici and herpes virus carrier. Shortly after getting her as a kitten she developed a cold that lasted for months. I knew one day it would come back and haunt us... She's developed stomatitis in the last couple of years and calicivirus is strongly implicated in its development. Although she had very few herpes flare-ups as she was growing up, now as an elderly cat she's got almost constant sniffles and has keratitis in one eye. Considering she was so full of flu as a kit for so long, I think she's done brilliantly to still be around 19 years later :) I keep dosing her up with lysine and hoping for the best!
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