Cat Flu is a common disease in cats, reportedly around 80 to 90% of all cats carry viruses that cause Cat Flu. Usually, the symptoms will be mild and be restricted to small bouts of sneezing that tends to resolve itself on it’s own with no veterinary treatment required.
In some cases, however, Cat Flu can become very severe. In breeding catteries, due to the high amount of virus load floating around from a number of infected cats – it can be a major problem. It can be the cause of chronic disease and even death, especially in younger kittens who do not have a well developed immune system.
Cat Flu is a respiratory tract disease that is highly infectious. Symptoms can vary widely, depending on which infectious agent is present and the individual health of the affected cat or kitten, and how strong it’s immune system is.
In a very healthy, mature cat and Cat Flu signs should be quite minimal and should past quickly. The usual symptoms of Cat Flu are any of the following:
There can be a number of causes of cat flu. The most common being two of the feline Upper Respiratory Tract viruses. These two are the Feline Herpes Virus (FHV) and the Feline Calicivirus (FCV). Just to confuse you, the Feline Herpes Virus is also referred to as Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (FVR).
Another infectious agent often found in cats displaying Cat Flu symptoms is a bacterium named Bordetella Bronchiseptica.
A type of Chlamydia called Chlamydophila Felis is another disease that presents similar symptoms to cat flu. But with Chlamydophila infections the symptoms are usually restricted to the cat or kittens eyes. Chlamydia does not cause the more serious symptoms like FHV and FCV do, but is commonly confused.
The cause of Cat Flu infection is the virus being passed on from an infected feline, or picked up from the environment. Feline Herpes Virus is quite a fragile virus and luckily it does not live long in the environment, apparently for a maximum of 48 hours. However, the Feline Calicivirus may remain in the environment and be infectious for up to 10 days if the conditions are right.
Often the infectious cat that is sharing Cat Flu is hard to detect as being the cause, because it may be what is referred to as “a carrier”. Such cats have the infective agent in their systems, but do not show symptoms at all. A carrier has normally had the virus along with symptoms at some stage, and once infected, the cat will “carry” the virus for life. It does not normally cause any problems in the “carrier” once the initial disease period is over, however these cats can still pass the infection on to others.
In all cases of Cat Flu, it is important that you seek veterinary advice for management. Because of the symptoms involved with the cat’s respiratory tract, breathing and swallowing may be affected. A Cat Flu infection can suddenly take a turn for the worse and may require treatment. In some extreme cases it can be life threatening.
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