June 30th, 2023
FELINE HERPES VIRUS (FVR)
Did you know that there is AT LEAST a 90% chance that your cat has herpes.
Herpes virus type 1 (FHV-1) is also known as (cat flu) or Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (FVR). It is the MOST COMMON cause of upper respiratory disease in cats. Upper respiratory disease refers to infections in the area of the eyes, nose, throat and sinus areas. It is MOST common in kittens, older cats and cats in shelters, catteries or multi-pet house holds. Once your cat has had herpes virus, they are infected for LIFE.
The good news is that MOST TIMES in a healthy vaccinated cat the immune system manages to keep the virus in check and unless under a great deal of stress (pregnancy, lactation, overcrowding, while boarding or sickness), your cat will likely not experience a herpes outbreak.
I felt the need to include information on my website about herpes because it only makes sense that since herpes virus affects most of the feline population, that MOST catteries will be infected with herpes virus as well.
Most times there are few problems with herpes in healthy catteries that vaccinate. Even if an adult in the cattery experiences symptoms, they are quite mild and pass easily on their own. However, there is the odd time that the virus may infect a litter of kittens. That maybe mom doesn’t provide her kittens with enough antibodies to protect them from the herpes virus.
You see, the hope is that with mom having been vaccinated and with likely already having been exposed to different viruses/diseases, that she will be able to provide her kittens with enough antibodies to protect them from contracting different viruses/diseases until the time they are old enough to be vaccinated.
At Heart’nsoul (and most other catteries) kittens are vaccinated with the FVRCP vaccine at 8 weeks, 12 weeks (and if still here) at 16 weeks of age. Please click on “VACCINATIONS” to read about the vaccines that cats should receive.
The “FVR” part of FVRCP stands for Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis or, as I mentioned before, FHV-1 (Feline Herpes Virus 1). Although this vaccine doesn’t prevent cats from contracting herpes virus, it greatly reduces the symptoms of it.
Sadly, when kittens have contracted herpes virus at a young age, it can be fatal. The virus it’s self can cause conjunctivitis and eye ulcers, which could permanently damage the kittens eyes. Having a stuffed nose and nasal discharge may cause kittens to stop eating and having a fever causes them to become lethargic. Herpes is VIRAL so there is no treatment and the virus will normally “run it’s course” in 10-14 days. However, there are things that can be done to help the kittens get through it. Sub q fluids and supplementing are quite important so they do not become dehydrated. Oral antibiotics to prevent infections and topical antibiotics for the eyes to prevent eye infections. Keeping the eyes and nasal passages clear of discharge. Anti-viral medications are used in some severe cases but oral anti-viral medications have been proven to cause liver damage so they are not recommended. L-lysine has shown to suppress viral replication and inhibit cytopathogenicity. Giving this essential amino acid daily has proven to prevent herpes outbreaks and to reduce the symptoms of a herpes if your cat is having them.
Using L-lysine is highly recommended in all cats. Adding just 500-1000mg per day to your cats water will help prevent herpes outbreaks.
It really isn’t herpes it’s self that is fatal for kittens and older cats however, due to the kittens/cats immune system being depressed from the herpes, they are more susceptible to developing bacterial infections, such as pneumonia. That is why it is highly recommended that oral antibiotics are given during a herpes outbreak.
I have included some links below so you can read about FVR or FHV-1 yourself. However, I feel it is very important for all potential kittens buyers to know and understand that herpes virus is EVERY WHERE. It may sound scary, especially if you have never heard of it before. But, it is one of those things that you just can’t get away from regardless of where you go to get your kitten or cat.
No cattery I know of will guarantee against herpes virus - it just isn’t logical. So in conclusion, if herpes virus will be a problem, I suggest buying a stuffed toy cat because there is not a great chance that you will find a cat without herpes virus and if you do, it will only be a matter of time before he/she contracts it.
And there are MANY more articles online!!