Cat Flu

Viral Disease

Cat Flu

Cause

Cat flu is caused by two possible viruses. If your cat is vaccinated against cat flu (ie has had its F3 vaccine) they can still contract cat flu as viruses can mutate

Vaccines can never cover against all variants of a virus. However a vaccinated cat rarely gets a dose of flu as bad as an unvaccinated cat since the vaccine will offer some cross protection against variants

Secondary bacterial problems can arise, hence why vets will often issue antibiotics to minimise the duration of signs. Antibiotics have no effect against the virus

Signs

Mainly sneezing and discharges from the nose and eyes

Spread

Cats sneeze and produce an aerosol that other cats breathe in. Mutual grooming and shared food bowls will also aid spread. If you have more than one cat in a house, likely they will all get a dose

Can it Spread to Humans

It cannot spread to your children or other family members, or your dog! Viruses are usually species specific

How long does it Last

Incubation - exposure to showing signs -period is about 5-7 days
The illness phase will last 7-10 days if treated, longer if not treated, and may even become a life long issue

Treatment

Antibiotics

Cat flu can become chronic (chronic sinusitis) and debilitating in some animals, which is why we always like to offer antibiotic cover to cats. No one wants a chronically suffering cat! But even with antibiotics it can be chronic as the Herpes virus can lie latent in the tissues and grow up at times of stress - compare cold sores in humans, also due to a herpes virus

Eye Drops

If eyes are discharging we also likely to issue eye drops, but they will settle as the respiratory signs settle. These days there are a few antiviral eye drops that can be useful if the cause is herpes virus and the cat has herpetic ulcers, such as idoxiuridine and the newer vidarabine

Mucolytics

If the nose becomes clogged with a thick snotty material we can offer mucolytics to make it runny again so allowing them to breath more easily

Antivirals

In addition to the above eyedrops, anecdotally lysine can be useful in cases of herpes virus

Home Care

What can you do to help? Medicines are only half the story. You can help in a number of ways

Feeding

Feeding and fluids are very important. If their appetite is reduced, try feeding more aromatic foods, such as sardines, fish, BBQ chicken, and gently warm them. Feed moist fluids to encourage fluid intake. Do not offer milk products

Fluids

If very debilitated cats become dehydrated easily. Subcutaneous fluids may be in order, we can show you how

Steam

If the nose is heavily clogged then a steamy bathroom will help loosen thick mucus

Clean Nose

Clean any thick discharged mucus away from the nostrils using warm water and cotton buds

Clean Eyes

Wipe away any discharges from the eye using normal saline (1 teaspoon of table salt in 600 ml warm water). Use a clean wipe per eye. Wipe down and away

Hygiene

Wash your hands after handling infected cats, to minimise spreading it to your friends and neighbours cats. Thoroughly clean feeding bowls

Isolate

Ideally keep you cats in until clinical signs resolve, this way they greater cat community will suffer less