Cats With Cat Flu


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,

Author: Bec

From a very young age Bec has always had a great love and appreciation for all animals. Bec is a qualified Veterinary Nurse and also has a Bachelor in Applied Science Animal Studies with special interest in Wildlife and Recreational Animals. Her studies have been put to good use working in various animal industries including small and large animal veterinary clinics, horse studs and the family cattle property. Horses have played an important part in her life, living on a horse stud and caring for horses throughout breeding, foaling, spelling, racing and retirement. Bec is the proud mum of two gorgeous girls, a beautiful Cocker Spaniel, a cheeky cockatiel, chickens and many horses including a naughty little pony.

4 Replies to “Cats With Cat Flu

  1. Hi Bec,
    My sister has a cat who has had cat flu.
    I have a cat I have adopted as a stray, (she comes to the back door and I feed her) she has this little habit of sneezing… my sister would have loved to take her but cannot as her cat has had the cat flu and it is advised by her vet she lives alone, however if it turns out that my cat has ALSO had cat flu, would the cats then able to live together. I still need to take stray cat (Mew) to the vet to clarify this but live in Victoria and are currently in lockdown 6.0…..
    My question is – If the cat I have has had cat flu can it live with another cat that has had cat flu, as passing on the virus is not longer and issue, is that correct, or is there more to consider? ?‍⬛ ?
    Your advice is most appreciated.
    Warmest regards Mia.

    1. Hi Mia,
      Erghh, lockdown 🙁 But at least you have a cat for company.
      Yes two cats with cat flu can live together, but both cats should be fully vaccinated prior to living together to avoid them infect each other with different virus strains. Just check with your vet but if they are fully vaccinated I cannot foresee any issues. It sounds like these two cats are very lucky to have found you and your sister.
      Stay safe

  2. Great info about cat flu
    I have a further question
    I have a fiv cat at home and found out that my other cat is a cat flu carrier ( both rescue cats)
    Does it mean i have to surrender one of the cats due to the risk to fiv cat ( has not had a flu yet I believe)


    1. Hi Jo,
      Thanks for your question. I spoke with Glenn (the vetnpet resident vet) about this. If the cat flu cat has chlamydia the bacterial form it can be treated and cured with antibiotics. Depending on how long the cat has been since infection viral shedding should be reduced except in times of stress. Vaccinating both the cat flu cat and the FIV cat should be possible depending on individual health concerns. FIV cats should only be vaccinated with killed vaccines for cat flu. Immune support for the cat flu kit will make it less likely to shed virus.
      This is only general advice so please consult your own vet for your individual situation as they will know the pets history or and be able to examine further.
      But I certainly do not think it means you need to surrender either of your cats.

      I hope this helps

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