If you have ever visited a cat shelter, rescue or adoption centre, you have probably noticed that some cats have a note saying that they have “Cat Flu”. But what does this mean?
Feline respiratory diseases or Cat Flu is a highly contagious virus caused by Feline Calicivirus (FCV) or Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (FVR) that can be easily spread through sneezing or coughing. Symptoms include sneezing, coughing, nasal discharge, runny eyes, conjunctivitis and/or ulcers on the tongue. The main health concern with Cat Flu is that the cat can develop a secondary bacterial infection. These infections generally require a course of antibiotics that will be prescribed by a vet. Diagnosis of Cat Flu is usually made after seeing symptoms in a cat, there is a swab test available to confirm the diagnosis if required.
Many cats contract Cat Flu and after having it they can become carriers to further spread the disease. The virus may be latent (dormant) in their body and at times of stress or illness it can then flare up. This is why shelters and adoption centres advise if a cat has the cat flu, so that the new owners are aware that they could be carrying the virus and spread it to other cats they come in contact with.
If you have a cat that has had Cat Flu and a potential carrier there are some things that you should be aware of. They generally do not require any extra or different care and can often go through life with minimal problems. At times of stress or illness the Cat Flu symptoms can flare up. If this does happen you should take them to your veterinarian for a checkup and to discuss treatment options. Cat Flu carrier cats should be kept indoors at all times, this is to avoid them potentially spreading the virus to other cats.
It is important that all cats in the household are vaccinated to reduce the chance of spread. Even vaccinated cats can catch Cat Flu however the symptoms will be greatly reduced and the cat should recover quickly. A cat that has Cat Flu should still be fully vaccinated as it is unlikely that they have contracted both of the viruses that can cause Cat Flu.
If you have a Cat Flu carrier cat you need to let your veterinarian or cattery know before arriving as they may have specific measures they need to take in order to prevent any spread of the virus to other cats.
So if you see a cat that you may like to adopt but it has the Cat Flu please do not let that stop you from adopting them. They generally do not involve any extra care and you may be able to offer them the happy life they deserve.
Until next time,