Cat Owners Need to Know These Things About Cat Flu

Systems of Cat Flu. Cat Flu Recovery Time. How To Treat Cat Flu

Sereta CAttery ServicesIf you’re a cat owner, the last thing you probably want to hear are the words ‘cat flu’, especially in relation to your beloved family pet. The most important thing to do if you even slightly suspect your cat has cat flu is to take it to a vet for treatment – one of the reasons cat flu is so feared is because it usually means your cat will be more susceptible to a range of nasty, secondary infections.

Often, the inability of your cat being able to fight off these secondary infections, contributes to early death. There are four different strains of cat flu you need to be aware of:

  • Feline Herpes Virus (FHV) – This severe strain of cat flu can be life-threatening and cause ulcers to form on your cat’s eyes. The eyelids are at risk of becoming inflamed and swollen, sticking to the eye. Long term eye complications are associated with FHV. FHV damage the nasal passages and sinuses, contributing to long-term infections.
  • Feline Calicivirus (FCV) – FCV is a milder strain of cat flu with adult cats usually experiencing nothing more than ulcers in the roof of the mouth, tongue and nose; kittens usually experience some lameness and high temperature.
  • Feline Chlamydophilia – Even milder than FCV, most cats experience nasal discharge and redness of the eyes.
  • Bordetella – Not only does Bordetella exhibit the above symptoms, it sometimes spreads to the chest. This serious infection has a relatively high death rate in kittens, and Bordetella may be responsible for cats developing a cough.

The majority of cats will be carriers of cat flu, with a virus in their system without actually being ill.

How cat flu spreads

If your cat is a carrier of cat flu, there is a high chance of it spreading to other cats it comes into contact with, especially your other cats. There are a number of ways carriers can spread the virus, including:

  • Fighting – Cat flu is spread mainly through saliva, so if a cat carrying cat flu bites another cat, it can easily spread.
  • Cleaning – Similarly, cats who clean each other or share from the same food and water bowls will often spread the virus.
  • Urination – Cats may inhale the spray of an infected cat when outside, inadvertently becoming infected themselves.

Symptoms of cat flu

The following symptoms provide a good indicator whether your cat has become infected with cat flu:

  • Runny nose with thick, heavy discharge
  • Sore mouth, mouth ulcers (other diseases, such as gingivitis can cause a sore mouth as well)
  • Frequent sneezing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Very quiet, depressed character

A runny nose will prevent your cat from being able to smell its food, leading to unwillingness to eat, causing your cat to become weak. Similarly, mouth ulcers will make it painful for your cat to chew and swallow its food. Quite often, you’ll be able to tell if your cat’s ill as it’ll appear far more unhappy and quiet than usual.

Preventing cat flu

When you get a new kitten, you’ll need to arrange for its two initial vaccines and ensure you keep up to date with booster vaccinations. No reputable cattery will allow your cat to board unless they’re fully up to date with their vaccinations, so you will need to bear that in mind before you go on holiday.

Whilst vaccines in the UK widely work against viruses, you can also access vaccines against bacterial strains, which is something you may want to consider if you’re showing or breeding cats.

Even if your cat has been vaccinated, it still may be a carrier of cat flu. Kittens will initially benefit from some immunity passed from their mothers, but this will soon fade, and some kittens will contract cat flu from their mothers or become carriers themselves.

If your cat was vaccinated against cat flu, but still contracts it, it’s most likely that they caught the infection before they were vaccinated.

Helping your cat recover

Much like helping another human get over the flu, all you can really do is be there for the cat, giving it lots of attention. You will need to make sure that the cat eats and gently clean the cat’s eyes and nose on a regular basis.

You may want to help clear out your cat’s sinuses by bringing it into the bathroom with you when you have a hot shower, due to the steam.

Apart from that, there isn’t much you can do – the majority of cats will recover within a few weeks, but kittens, very old cats and cats with existing health issues may find it a lot more difficult to recover.


At Sereta Boarding Cattery, we require you to bring proof that your cat’s cat flu vaccinations are up to date before we take them from you. For more information about Sereta Boarding Cattery, call us today on 01689 856168.

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