Mar 7, 2019

Cat Flu - Upper Respiratory Tract Infection

The signs, nursing and prevention of Cat Flu

cat flu

“Cat Flu” also known as ‘snuffles’ is a very common disease we see in cats. It is often seen in stray or unvaccinated kittens, but any cat at any age can catch it.

The disease is usually caused by the viruses calicivirus and herpes virus but various bacteria such as chlamidophila and bordatella bronchiseptica can also contribute to the disease complex.

Unfortunately if a cat has had “cat flu” even once, they can become a carrier of the disease,so the signs may recur at times of stress throughout the rest of the cat’s life.

The BEST way to prevent cat flu is by getting your cat vaccinated, and staying up to date with vaccinations! The vaccine we use protects your cat against both calicivirus and herpes virus. A booster vaccination is given each year (depending on the brand of vaccine), which we often do at the same time as your cat’s annual check up.

No vaccine can give 100% protection, but the clinical signs in a vaccinated cat are normally much milder than those of an unvaccinated cat.

What are the signs of Cat Flu’?

  • Sneezing,coughing and harsh respiratory sounds
  • Nasal discharge
  • Sore, squinty or swollen eyes
  • Discharge from the eyes
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Inappetance
  • Lethargy

How do we treat it?

The most important thing we must do for your cat when they are suffering from flu is to support them nutritionally and ensure they stay hydrated. As cat flu is a viral disease there are no drugs to cure it, just like human flu. The viral infection will run its course – normally within 1-2 weeks. However there are things we can do to make them feel more comfortable, and there are times where it is important we intervene.

As with any feline illness, the major danger signs are that they stop eating or become quieter than usual. If you see these signs you should see the vet immediately,because cats can become dangerously dehydrated even if they are still drinking water.  

Treatments include fluid therapy, antibiotics to treat secondary bacterial infections, anti-inflammatories to lower a potential fever as well as encourage eating, and decongestants to help loosen mucus.

If you have other cats at home it is important to keep them separate from your cat that is suffering from cat flu.The disease is spread by anyone or anything that has touched an infected cat –so it is very important to wash your hands before handling a healthy cat and make sure they do not share water bowls, food bowls or blankets.

What can you do at home?

There are many things you can do at home to help your cat feel better;

  • Tempt them with delicious, strongly aromatic foods such as Hills A/D prescription food, sardines, cooked chicken etc. We suggest aromatic/smelly foods, because if a cat has a blocked nose they are less likely to eat as they can’t smell their dinner.
  • Clear away nasal discharge that may be blocking your cat’s nose. Putting them in the bathroom while you shower can also help unblock those noses.
  • Give them somewhere warm and quiet to sleep.
  • Give them lots of TLC.

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