What Is Cat Flu?

Cat Flu is an Upper Respiratory Infection (URI) usually caused by one of two viruses.

  • Feline Herpes (FHV, FHV-1)
  • Calicivirus (FCV)


It’s a widespread cat infection similar in nature to human flu, and the two viruses above account for about 90% of all URI’s.

How Severe is Cat Flu?

The severity can vary greatly depending on the cat’s age and physical condition and whether its vaccines are up to date. In an otherwise healthy cat who has been vaccinated, the symptoms are usually mild, and the infection causes no significant threat. However, in very young cats or old cats, the condition can be severe and potentially lethal.

Symptoms of Cat Flu :

Your cat’s nasal passage may become inflamed and exactly like you when you have a cold, its nose will run, usually an exact color to begin with, but as the infection worsens, it can become thicker and greener in color. Your cat may lose its sense of smell, which can lead to a loss of appetite.

Your cat’s eyes may goo up with a sticky discharge similar to human conjunctivitis; they may appear slightly red and swollen. Sometimes ulcers can form on the cornea, which can be both severe and painful, especially if the ulcer becomes infected.

You may notice excessive drooling from your cat’s mouth, and it’s possible with the Calicivirus that your cat could develop mouth ulcers. These are painful and will possibly put your cat off eating.

Other symptoms may include lethargy, loss of appetite, not drinking as much, and joint pain.

 Diagnosis Of Cat Flu:

A Vet can often diagnose Cat Flu from the symptoms displayed; confirmation can be had from taking mouth and eye swabs.

Treatment Of Cat Flu:

You can clean your cat’s eyes and nose by using a slightly warm saltwater solution.

Always seek a Vets opinion. If your cat symptoms worsen and your cat is not eating or drinking, then seek Vets help as soon as possible.

Repelling water will lead to dehydration, and it may require hydrating your cat intravenously.

If your cat does go off his/her food, try using food with a strong aroma, such as oily fish. Sometimes warming the food slightly can also help.

How Cat Flu spread?

The spreading is in the same way as human flu. A cat sneezing nearby another cat or sharing food or water bowls with an infected cat can spread the infection. It is possible for humans to also spread the infection on their hands or clothes if they contact with an infected cat.

What can you do at home to stop the spread of Cat Flu?

Firstly if you live in a multi-cat household, you must isolate the infected cat and use separate water bowls, feeding bowls, and litter boxes.

Herpes can survive outside of your cat’s body for about 24 hours, but the Calicivirus can stay for around a week. Therefore, you will need to wash and sanitize all areas where your cat has been, including bedding.

Be careful in what products you use to sanitize your house; some are not suitable to use around cats. A cheap and effective method is to use a mixture of water and bleach. (5% bleach, 95% water).

How long will my cat be sick?

Both Herpes and calicivirus symptoms last for about 7 to 14 days; however, it can still be a carrier of the Calicivirus for several months when your cat improves.

Your cat can carry the Herpes virus for the rest of its life without displaying any outward signs. There is always a risk that your cat’s health suffers in the future through an illness or stress; then, the virus can flare up again.

Cat Flu Vaccination

There is no specific vaccination; however, your cat’s usual routine vaccinations will help protect against URIs; they won’t stop your cat from catching the infection but will lessen the symptoms.

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