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  • Writer's pictureDr Mike Groombridge MRCVS

Spotlight on: Cat flu

I have seen a number of cases of cat flu over the last couple of weeks.

Cat flu is a slightly misleading term as it is caused by a number of different viruses and bacteria, none of which are an influenza virus!

The most common agents are:

Viruses

- Feline Herpesvirus (FHV)

- Feline Calicivirus (FCV)

Bacteria

- Chlamydophila felis

- Bordetella bronchiseptica

- Mycoplasma sp.


Signs of Cat Flu

The different infectious agents will often have slightly different clinical signs in infected cats. For example FHV will cause sneezing and ocular and nasal discharge, whereas FCV often causes disease in the mouth, notably inflamed and painful gums and oral ulceration.

Other general signs include fever, lethargy and conjunctivitis.


Treatment

The bacterial agents can be treated with antibiotics depending on the type of bacteria.

Unfortunately there is no treatment for the viral agents (FHV and FCV) and so once a cat is infected they will be infected for life. Treatment is therefore with supportive therapy such as decongestants and controlling fever and conjunctivitis.

Once infected with FHV or FCV, signs of cat flu may wax and wane but will often flare up in times of stress.

FCV infection can sometimes be very nasty. Some severely affected cats require

all of their teeth removing plus long term anti-inflammatory therapy in order to control the pain and inflammation in their mouths.


Prevention

FHV and FCV are part of the routine annual vaccinations that we give to cats and I would highly recommend keeping up to date with these vaccines.

The bacterial agents are not part of the vaccination protocol for cats, but as mentioned they are more easily treated than the viral agents.

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