Cat flu is a common illness that affects the upper respiratory tract of cats. It can be caused by a number of infectious agents, including viruses and bacteria. Despite the name cat flu can cause very serious illness.
What causes cat flu?
Around 80% of cat flu cases are caused by one of two viruses, feline herpesvirus (also known as feline rhinotracheitis virus) or feline calicivirus. These viruses are known as the primary pathogen meaning they start the initial infection and once they have damaged the lining of an infected cat’s respiratory tract, the disease may be further complicated by secondary bacterial infections.
If your cat becomes infected with feline herpes virus, they will have the virus for life. Just like other herpes viruses, your cat will have ‘flare ups’ of the disease which can be induced by periods of stress or reduction in immune system due to other illness.
How is it spread?
The viruses are shed in the saliva, tears and nasal discharge of infected cats .
What are the clinical signs?
• runny nose and eyes
• quiet and subdued behaviour
• loss of appetite
• high temperature
• a cough or loss of voice
These signs can vary from mild to severe.
Feline herpes virus and feline calicivirus are included in the core F3 vaccination and all cats should receive an annual vaccination to keep them protected.
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