Home Features Pet Care: MORE CAT DISEASES WHICH CAN BE PREVENTED BY VACCINATION
Q: One notices that on small (pet) animal Vaccination Certificates, specific cat diseases are included. What are these diseases? Are they prevalent? Do cats actually die from these diseases?
A: Last week we mentioned in detail one such disease (Feline Panleukopenia = Feline Infectious Enteritis), because it is one of the most common feline viral diseases which veterinarians encounter in their practices. Today, we shall look at those other feline diseases which are also prevalent, but less so, and which can be avoided by administering the available vaccines. These diseases are all lethal, especially if adequate treatment is not introduced in a timely manner.
Now, whereas the FPL viral disease (=Feline Infectious Enteritis) focuses on the intestinal tract in cats, the three others being discussed today do harm to the respiratory (breathing) system. They are:
(1) Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (FVR) – aka “Herpesvirus infections in cats”.
(2) Feline Calicivirus (FCV).
(3) Feline Chlamydiosis (FC) – aka Chlamydial Conjunctivitis/“Feline Pneumonia”.
RE: (1) FVR
As with most Herpes viruses, this virus is very species specific, which means that it only infects cats (domestic and feral).
Loss of appetite; Fever (sometimes over 40°C/105°F); Sneezing frequently; Inflammation of the eyes (conjunctivitis); Inflammation in the lining of the nostrils; Increased saliva production (causing drooling).
Your vet will advise about the care, which is mostly supportive interventions – if necessary – against germs which will attack cats weakened by the FVR disease.
The treatment will focus on decongesting the respiratory tract. I advise spraying saline solution (an OTC preparation) into the nostrils and then wiping away the mucus (and secondary bacteria) which is expelled. Please do not rub Vicks VapoRub or camphor/eucalyptus related ointments into the nostrils or on the skin of a cat. Cats are not small humans – and many of our (human) home remedies are not tolerated well by cats.
The infected cat does not shed the virus for too long, but the virus itself is resilient and can survive for many months in open spaces. Since cats like to roam, they can pick up the infection from the environment, and not necessarily via cat-to-cat contamination.
Vaccinate. Also, once the cat has encountered FVR and survived, it is highly unlikely to succumb to a reinfection.
RE: (2) FCV
This virus is highly contagious within a cat population. It affects the respiratory system, creating a febrile condition. Infected kittens tend to exhibit incoordination of movement and lameness/limping. One finds FCV prevalence in crowded Animal Shelters, and multi-cat households, especially where inadequate hygiene practices exist.
Loss of appetite; drooling; discharge from the eyes and nostrils; sneezing; foul breath; limping.
As for FVR (See above); your vet may advise you how to hand-feed your FCV patient.
RE: (3) FC
This is not a virus infection. It is a bacteria based chronic condition which initially affects the eyes, especially of kittens and young cats, but can then work its way down to the respiratory tract and lungs. Even though it is not a virus, it is included in the polyvalent vaccine prepared for cats. This germ does not last long in our hot/humid equatorial environment. The disease is spread from cat-to-cat contact.
Within a few days of contracting the infection, the symptoms appear.
Suddenly emerging (acute) conjunctivitis (eye inflammation) with discharge and redness which can become long lasting (chronic), or even as a recurring ailment of the eyes.
Initially the discharge is watery, then it becomes thicker with yellowish–greenish colour. In cats, the conjunctiva membrane is not easily visible, but with FC they become red and inflamed and visible. Actually, many caregivers speak of “Red Eye” when explaining the disease to the vet over the phone.
On occasion, FC can exhibit signs of a mild upper respiratory infection/damage, such as sneezing and nasal discharge.
Once the germ reaches the lungs, the situation becomes more difficult to cure, and the animal may die. Your vet will surely advise specific daily treatment.
i. Good news: FC is relatively easily and successfully treated, if caught in the beginning. Topical antibiotic (drops in the eye) seem to do a good job. Your vet will advise which specific antibiotic eyedrops are to be used.
ii. Bad news: It has been reported that humans, in isolated cases, can in fact contract FC. But this is quite rare. If you suddenly come down with a runny nose, do not jump to your own diagnosis of “COVID”. Visit your physician and tell him/her that you have an ailing cat/kitten with similar symptoms. He/she will take it from there.
Vaccination. However, the protection offered by the vaccine is not long-term. All cats in the household should be vaccinated. I will document the vaccination schedule next week.
Until then, stay safe and follow the anti-COVID-19 prevention protocol.