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!


What Causes Nasal Discharge in Cats and what Treatments are Available?

Chronic Nasal Discharge in Cats

The average housecat is a fairly independent creature normally not needing much looking after. That may be why the average cat owner has more than two feline friends, while dog owners only have one. Of course, this does not mean they are worry-free pets. Just like their canine counterparts, cats can and do occasionally get sick. It is up to their owners to determine whether the problem requires professional attention.

Chronic nasal discharge in cats occurs when your pet’s nose runs for several hours without interruption. Because it is a common symptom of viral and bacterial infections, it should be taken seriously. More often than not, however, it is caused by seasonal allergies. Let us take a moment to discuss the three types of the discharges and their possible causes.

Allergic Rhinitis in Cats

When there is a clear, watery discharge accompanied by sneezing, it typically means your cat has inhaled an environmental allergen. Also known as atopy, the condition is most likely inherited and causes increased sensitivity to common allergens, such as certain grasses, trees, weeds, molds, insect bites, and dust mites.

Viral Respiratory Disease in Cats

When the discharge is thick and mucilaginous, it is often an early warning sign of a much more serious condition or complex. Your cat may be suffering from a respiratory disease and should receive professional treatment as soon as possible. For example, Feline Herpes Virus can cause recurrent and chronic nasal discharges in cats.

Bacterial Infection Causing Chronic Nasal Discharge in Cats

If the discharge is thick, yellow, and malodorous, it may mean your pet has a bacterial infection. Once again, these are serious issues to be addressed by professional veterinarians.

Progression of Chronic Nasal Discharge in Cats

Whether the infection is viral or bacterial, the discharge generally starts out as a watery fluid and then gets thicker and thicker as the infection spreads. The final stage produces a flavescent, purulent discharge, which means your pet is one sick kitty.

Causes and Secondary Symptoms of Chronic Nasal Discharge in Cats

The common housecat is the result of millions of years of evolution and adaptation. For most of their history, cats survived by catching and eating small prey. Eating these animals whole actually helped keep their teeth clean. But when the feline was domesticated, it had to adapt to a new diet. As nutritious as most of these foods may be, they can increase the risk of plaque and tartar buildup. And carious teeth can result in infections.  Dental problems are, in fact, a common cause of chronic nasal discharge in cats, which is why you should inspect your pet’s teeth on a regular basis. If there is any dental damage or a fetid smell, take your cat to see his or her doctor as soon as possible.

In extreme cases of this unpleasant ailment, your feline friend will experience a whole host of secondary symptoms. These include drooling, eye discharge, coughing, loss of appetite, fever, coughing, and mouth sores. If your pet exhibits one or more of these symptoms, it may mean your cat has feline viral respiratory disease.

Another surefire sign something is wrong is when a cat breathes noisily or through his or her mouth. Felines are simply not designed to be mouth breathers and they generally avoid it at all costs. If you cat is breathing orally, it may mean the nostrils are blocked by swollen membranes. Any cat having problems breathing should be examined immediately.

When a nasal infection occurs, your pet’s olfactory sense may also be affected, which can and often does result in a loss of appetite.  Whether viral or bacterial, these infections can cause sneezing, stertorous breathing, and nasal discharge. On occasion, the nasal infection may spread from the frontal sinus and may result in infected teeth. They may also become carries of herpesvirus, which is a chronic condition reactivated during periods of extreme stress.

Treatment of Chronic Nasal Discharge in Cats

Restoring breathing and preventing infection are always the main objectives when chronic nasal discharge is the issue.  The sick cat should be isolated from other animals, since the disease is contagious. If the discharge is watery, gently wipe the nostrils with a cotton ball to prevent irritation and blockage. Baby oil or pure moisturizing lotions can also guard against cracking and drying of the outside of the nose. If you have a humidifier or a vaporizer, the device can be used to help loosen up the discharge and help restore normal function to the mucus membranes.

If, however, your cat has a thick, yellowish discharge that also smells, your cat will require professional attention. Your veterinarian will almost certainly put your cat on a battery of antibiotics to fight the infection and restore balance to the system. These serious medical issues should never be handled at home with rumored remedies.

Long-term administration of a supplemental lysine may help reduce the symptoms of chronic nasal discharge when caused by Feline Herpes Virus. If your pet’s veterinarian has recommended a product containing L-lysine, please consider these products available at VetRxDirect:

Has your cat suffered from chronic nasal discharge? What was the cause? Let us know in the comments section below so we all know when it’s time to get our feline friend to the doctor.

Keep your nose clean,