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Feline Calicivirus Symptoms and Treatments


Feline calcivirus is otherwise referred to as a milder form of cat flu, is highly infectious between unvaccinated cats and can prove fatal if not treated adequately and in time.

It first presents as a general malaise and a loss of appetite; you may find that the cat has ulcers in its mouth or on its nose or tongue, which are the distinguishing sign for this form of flu.

The respiratory tract will then be infected and start to discharge leading to a running nose and sneezing. The cat may then develop conjunctivitis, and in the later stages the calcivirus will affect the joints and may in some cases give rise to lameness caused by arthritis, particularly in the hind legs. This is particularly true of young cats.

As it is a virus it is not treatable with antibiotics, and the best that can be done is to give the cat lots of care and attention and relieve the symptoms as much as possible. Your veterinary surgeon can help to relieve the pressure in the lungs and reduce the fluid making breathing so difficult, and you can ensure the cat has plenty of water to drink and is fed a healthy, wholesome diet to provide the vitamins and minerals he needs to recover.

If the cat's symptoms are causing him a lot of distress and he develops secondary bacterial infections, your vet may prescribe antibiotic therapy.

Your cat may not want to move around very much at all, and will prefer peace and quiet and lots of sleep. If he has developed arthritis from long exposure to the virus a warm blanket or a warm water bottle underneath a blanket will give him a comfortable place to lie and gentle heat to help stop his muscles stiffening up due to the lack of exercise and pain in his arthritic joints.

If he continues to have discharge from his nose you can use a cotton wool swab dipped in warm water to wipe it away, being careful of course to dispose of the pad carefully and to wash your hands thoroughly after caring for him.

The virus can affect the cat for some weeks, and if he is looked after well he is likely to make a fairly full recovery although many cats are left with a running nose

The most effective treatment for calcivirus is prevention and you can ask your vet to vaccinate your cat against calcivirus at the time of his annual injections, but it has to said that vaccination does not always prevent a cat from catching the virus. Additionally a much more aggressive form of calcivirus has appeared in the United States, with symptoms such as swelling around the face and paws and with a less positive outcome, but as yet there is little detail around suitable treatment and medical therapy.

Next article: Feline Gingivitis Symptoms and Treatments

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