Can my cat get the flu?

Cats Get the Flu, Too

Congestion. Coughing. Fever. We’ve all felt it – the dreaded flu. Cats get the flu, too. Only, when cats get the flu some chicken soup and a few days in bed don’t help them overcome this pervasive, long-term infection. Every cat owner ought know about this illness and recognize the symptoms. Read on…

What is the “cat flu?”

The “cat flu” is a group of feline upper respiratory infections, most caused by one of two viruses: feline viral rhinotracheitis (FVR) or feline calicivirus (FCV).  You might also hear these infections referred to as cat herpes or feline herpes.

Symptoms of feline respiratory infection include:

  • Congestion
  • Chronic nasal discharge
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Discharge from the eyes
  • Fever
  • Excess saliva
  • Lethargy

How do cats get upper respiratory infections?

Feline respiratory infection is spread through cat-to-cat contact in multi-cat households, shelters, and boarding situations. When cats share food and water bowls, groom themselves, cough, and sneeze they shed the virus, which other cats can pick up. Once a cat is infected with the feline herpes virus she carries it for life and may experience flare-ups of the illness throughout her lifetime. Even when the infected cat isn’t experiencing symptoms, she can transmit the virus to other cats throughout her life.

What do I do if my cat gets a feline respiratory infection?

If you think your cat has the cat flu, visit your veterinarian right away for an exam and treatment recommendations.  Because this virus is so contagious, it’s important to confirm the diagnosis – don’t just rely on your own judgment of the symptoms! Then take action including isolating your cat from any other cats so the disease does not spread. If your cat doesn’t get treatment, this virus can lead to more serious medical conditions.

How can I prevent my cat from getting a feline respiratory infection?

Unfortunately, you can’t completely protect your cat from feline respiratory infection, but there are some things you can do:

  • Make sure your cat has all his vaccinations and is good physical shape
  • Try to limit the amount of time your cat spends in boarding situations
  • Reduce stress on your cat because stress can cause flare-ups of feline respiratory infection
  • Keep your cat’s bowls and bedding clean

Many veterinarians also suggest L-Lysine nutritional supplements. This amino acid doesn’t treat the illness, but it does ease symptoms and slows viral shedding which means it reduces the amount of the virus that your cat spreads.  If your veterinarian suggests you try Lysine supplements, we offer several varieties of Lysine for cats including gels, powders, treats, and chews. The many formulations make it easy for you to help protect your cat with the power of Lysine.

If your cat has responded to Lysine supplements, share your story in our comments below where members of our online community learn from each other.

To your cat’s health!