Flu in cats is not uncommon and, in houses where more than one cat lives, and particularly in catteries, can soon spread to other cats. Generally, the mortality rate in cats infected by cat flu is low.
These vary but may include loss of appetite, fever, sneezing, depression, inflamed or reddened eyes, yellow or thick green discharge from the nose, occasional coughing and ulcers on the tongue.
The two main causes are viral. One is known as feline calicivirus FCV. The other is known as feline herpesvirus FHV or feline viral rhinotracheitis FVR. It is transferred from the affected cat through aerosol droplets from sneezes. Unfortunately, some cats are carriers, and although they do not show any signs of the condition they can still pass cat flu to another cat.
Isolate an affected cat as soon symptoms are noticed and contact the vet within 24 hours. The incubation period is two to ten days, but even after successful treatment, many cats are still carriers of the virus. In such cases, it is best if the affected cat is never allowed to come into contact with another cat. Vaccinations – both injected under the skin and sprayed up the cat’s nose – can provide some protection.
There are two parts to treatment. The first is to nurse the cat to get him eating and drinking again, and the second is to administer drugs to alleviate his suffering. The vet may prescribe antibiotics and mucolytics which help clear the mucus from the respiratory system.