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.