Cats Flu, Upper Respiratory Tract Infection

kitten with conjunctivitis

can cats get the flu

Cat flu or upper respiratory tract infection (URI) may be a quite common disease that will vary considerably in severity, and on occasions can even be life-threatening.

In the overwhelming majority of cases, disease results from infection with feline calicivirus (FCV) or feline herpes (FHV, or FHV-1). Clinical signs include sneezing, nasal discharge, conjunctivitis (inflammation of the liner of the eyes), ocular discharge, loss of appetite, fever, and depression. Mouth ulcers, coughing, excessive drooling of saliva, and eye ulcers can also be seen. Very young, very old, and immunosuppressed cats are more likely to develop severe disease and possibly die as a result of their URI, usually thanks to secondary infections (such as pneumonia), lack of nutrition, and dehydration.

What cats are in danger of URIs?

URIs are common because the causative viruses are widespread in cat populations. Typical risk factors include:

Cats kept in large groups or colonies like breeding catteries, rescue centers, and feral cat colonies – in these situations the viruses are ready to spread easily

Elderly and immunosuppressed cats (e.g., cats with FeLV or FIV infection, or cats receiving immunosuppressive therapy) are more susceptible to developing severe disease

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