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Canberra Cat Vet Blog

Virus update

Thursday, September 12, 2019
                                               The common strain of Calicivirus is active in the ACT this spring. Kittens with sore mouths, sneezes and runny noses suffer like humans with colds.
Unvaccinated kittens and cats fall victim to Calicivirus and take longer to get over it than vaccinated cats.
Vaccines stimulate the cat's natural immune system to produce defences to viruses.
The two viruses that cause 'cat flu' are calicivirus and herpesvirus. Most cats come into contact with them at some time in their lives.
Owners can bring calicivirus and parvovirus, which causes Feline Panleukopenia or Enteritis, home on their hands and shoes so even indoor cats are at risk of illness.
The vaccine for panleukopaenia is very effective and in adults immunity lasts for 3 years.
The vaccine for the 'cat flu' reduces the severity of flu symptoms and vaccinated cats recover more rapidly.

Sore eyes?

Thursday, February 14, 2019
                                                                                                                                                                       Poor Mali has cat flu, very common in young kittens when they face a new home, new people, and travel. Stress later in life may bring on another bout - or it may not.

Herpesvirus, one of the causes of cat flu, hides in the nerve root behind the eye and comes out when kittens and some older cats are stressed. In mild cases, and particularly when the cat has been vaccinated, they only suffer a few days of a watery eye and sadness.

In severe cases the virus causes ulcers on the eye and occasionally loss of the eye. The eye is squeezed closed and the discharge thickens. The cat may go off her food and hide.

Whether the bout of flu is mild or severe the kitten or cat needs treatment. The eye is painful and the virus makes them feel unwell.

Fight wounds, Chlamydia and Mycoplasma infections, and trauma also cause sore eyes in cats. Any eye disease must be treated promptly to avoid loss of sight or the eye.

We prescribed lubrication drops for Mali's eyes, pain relief and an antibiotic because we suspected a Chlamydial as well as herpesvirus infection. If he has another bout we will consider an antiviral drug as well.

Sore eyes

Thursday, November 22, 2018
                        Poor Mali's eye started running within days of arriving in his new home. His carers noticed that he was squinting and sad so they brought him in for a check.
It is very common for kittens and even adult cats to get one or two sore eyes when they are stressed. Mali had left his mum and brothers and sisters as well as his first home. Despite lots of love and care his new home was strange to him and he was understandably a bit stressed. Cats don't like change!
The feline herpesvirus behaves a bit like the human herpesvirus except that it hides out in the nerve to the eye. When the cat is stressed the virus is activated and moves to the window of the eye, the cornea. Human herpesvirus usually moves to the lips causing cold sores. Both human and feline herpesvirus lesions cause a lot of pain.
The feline herpesvirus produces ulcers on the surface of the cornea. The eye becomes red and watery, and the cat squints in pain. With veterinary care the ulcers usually resolve but occasionally they may rupture the eyeball or produce brown scabs on the cornea disrupting vision.
Mali's eye responded to treatment and he settled into his new home very well. Occasionally if something new comes into his environment his eye runs again but his carers know what to do and the virus rarely gets out of hand.

Sneezes and runny eyes

Thursday, July 20, 2017
                                                                                                                                                                                  Many cats are suffering from cat flu this winter. Mali's runny eye and sneezing are typical of the type we are seeing. He has been picky with his food and inclined to go off on his own instead of playing these last few days too.
The swab revealed that he has herpesvirus, a common cause of cat flu and widespread in the cat population. Mali was vaccinated against herpesvirus so he should only have a mild dose of flu of short duration.
Vaccination against herpesvirus and calicivirus doesn't necessarily prevent cats from getting some signs but the disease is much less severe and prolonged than if they'd had no vaccination.
Severe cat flu in unvaccinated cats can lead to runny nose, chronic sinusitis, mouth ulcers, coughing, pneumonia and even death in young or elderly cats.
Confirmed herpesvirus infections respond to a special antiviral which your vet may prescribe.
Mycoplasma, chlamydia and other bacteria may complicate the viral disease. Antibiotics help control these infections.
Nursing is the most important therapy for cats with flu. To keep their appetite up feed strong smelling foods. If the nose is blocked half an hour in a steamy bathroom helps loosen the secretions up. Wipe mucky eyes and nose with a moist cotton wool or makeup pad.
Purr therapy is crucial to recovery! Lots of gentle petting and coddling will help your sad cat through this difficult patch.

Runny noses

Friday, January 09, 2015

Macey doesn't like sneezing one little bit!

 

Snuffles, sneezing, noisy breathing, snoring and nasal discharge are signs of nasal and sinus disease.

In young cats the flu viruses – feline herpesvirus and calicivirus – are the most common cause. These viruses damage the nasal mucosa and then bacteria infect the nasal passages causing a pussy discharge and a loss of appetite.  In some cats this leads to chronic or lifetime infection of the fine bones within the nose and sinuses.  

Young to middle age cats sometimes acquire fungal infections like cryptococcosis and aspergillosis if they spend a lot of time outdoors.

Inflammatory polyps at the back of the nose in the nasal part of the throat cause snuffles and snoring in some cats.  

Physical damage from foreign objects in the nose like grass seeds, cat bites or car accidents, or associated with severe dental disease will cause snuffles and nasal discharge in any age cat.  

More seriously, some cats develop tumours in the nasal passages or extending from other areas into the nose.   

 What tests can be done to find the cause of the disease?  We first do non-invasive tests, such as a blood test for cryptococcosis, a blood count, biochemistry or tests for feline Leukaemia virus and FIV. Then we consider a general anaesthetic to X-ray the nose and examine the nose, throat and mouth.  We take samples and look for bacteria, fungi, evidence of inflammation or cancer cells. If the teeth and gums are diseased a dental treatment often resolves the problem.

We can control but not cure chronic bacterial rhinitis because the chronically damaged bones cannot be repaired.   Antibiotics reduce secondary bacterial infection and steam inhalation in a steamy bathroom or from a vaporiser helps clear the passages.  The most essential aspect of treatment is good nursing care: keeping the cat’s face clean and clear of discharge, and stimulating the appetite with warm, strong smelling foods.  

Other diseases require specific treatments. We remove polyps surgically, treat fungal diseases with antifungal drugs and control some cancers with chemotherapy.      

Snotty nose cats

Saturday, May 31, 2014

                                                                                                                                                                  Snotty-nosed and snuffly cats are difficult to live with.Their owners put up with sneezes and snot all over the house, as well as snuffles and grumbles all day and half the night.

The causes of sinusitis and rhinosinusitis are also difficult for vets to diagnose accurately and even more difficult to treat effectively.

Inflammation and infection spread rapidly from cats’ throats to adjacent structures, such as the middle ear, frontal sinuses, nose and tympanic bullae. These cavities are difficult to reach with medical or surgical treatments.

Feline mucus is also thicker than human mucus and medication has a hard time penetrating the mucus to get to the offending microbes.

Feline Herpesvirus is the most common initiating cause of chronic rhinitis and rhinosinusitis. It causes chronic airway inflammation and swelling, destroys the normal lining of the nasal cavity and upsets the normal mucus layers. The nasal cavity cannot remove foreign particles or the abnormal mucus and the sinuses become blocked. Bacteria leap in and set up infections making the situation even worse.

Drugs to reduce the mucus and the swelling in the sinuses help a bit. We treat the bacterial infection with antibiotics but are still left with Herpesvirus and all the damage it does. Herpesvirus sinusitis soon flares up into full blown bacterial sinusitis again. Some cats respond well to antiviral drugs but others keep getting intermittent sinusitis.

Nastier causes of similar signs are Cryptococcosis, a fungal disease, and cancer, commonly lymphoma, adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. These are difficult to distinguish on X-ray but CT or MRI are very helpful, if they are available. A biopsy clears up any doubts. A blood test is available for Cryptococcosis.

Bad teeth and infected tooth roots sometimes make cats snuffly. A dental inspection and X-ray under general anaesthetic allow targeted and successful treatment.

Occasionally a cat breathes in a grass seed or other foreign body. Usually nasal discharge is from one side only and there is some bleeding.

 


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Canberra Cat Vet 16-18 Purdue St Belconnen ACT 2617 (parking off Gillott Street) Phone: (02) 6251-1444

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