What is cat ‘flu?
Cat ‘flu is a common disease which often affects kittens and elderly cats. It can be viral or bacterial or both, as bacterial infections often develop as a secondary infection to viral flu. The disease can be life-threatening and is commonly diagnosed in cats that are kept in large groups such as in catteries and rescue centres.
There are many symptoms to look out for when you suspect your cat has been exposed to cat ‘flu and these include: intermittent sneezing and coughing, clear discharge from the nose and eyes (this may become thick and yellow following a secondary bacterial infection), excessive saliva, depression, loss of appetite, lameness and ulcers on the tongue, nose and roof of the mouth.
What causes cat ‘flu?
Most cases of cat ‘flu are caused by Feline Herpes Virus Type 1 (FHV-1) or Feline Calicivirus (FCV). Secondary bacterial infections can be caused by one of two bacteria – Bordetella bronchiseptica and Chlamydophila felis.
Although antibiotics can be used to treat cats suffering from bacterial cat ‘flu, there is no specific treatment for viral cat ‘flu and cats affected by either type of ‘flu need intensive veterinary care to give them any chance of survival. It’s therefore advisable to vaccinate cats initially as kittens and then regularly as adults.
If you think your cat has cat ‘flu, please contact your vet immediately.
Vaccination against cat ‘flu is the only proven method of preventing the disease and vaccines are available to protect cats against both the viral and bacterial infections.
If there is an outbreak of cat ‘flu keep your cat away from communal areas. It’s also advisable to clean the bedding area with appropriate disinfectants.