September 30, 2020

Nathan Head


Herpesvirus Infection in Cats (Kitty Cold)

Health information about Herpesvirus (kitty colds) in cats

Herpesvirus Infection in Cats (Kitty Cold)

Ever see your kitty with a runny nose, sneezing, congestion, eye discharge, third eyelids showing, or conjunctivitis (inflammation of the tissues that line the eyelids and surround the eyes)? Sometimes you may see all of these conditions at once – and it can certainly be upsetting for the pet owner. The good news is, this could just be a flare up the common kitty cold, or herpesvirus.

Feline Herpes Virus Eye Discharge
Feline Herpes Virus Eye Discharge

Feline Herpes Virus Eye Discharge

Herpesvirus is easily transmitted between cats or objects shared by a family of cats (food bowls, beds, toys, etc). Many times, cats may not even catch a full cold upon contracting the virus – instead it simply remains dormant – often for years. It isn’t uncommon, at all, for cats adopted from shelters to harbor this virus and never show symptoms until later in life.

So, what triggers the virus to become active? Well, oftentimes it is stress, or other illnesses that are decreasing the immune system. As we all know, life has been stressful this year – and that stress often is picked up on by our furry family members. Before you know it, your kitty has come down with a cold – which just makes things more stressful for you, the parent. At The Cat’s Meow we have seen a significant increase in kitty colds this year.

Feline Third Eyelids Showing
Feline Third Eyelids Showing

The bad news is, like most viruses, there is no cure. The good news is, treatment is simple and prognosis is usually very good. Usually the symptoms will fade, on their own, after 10 to 20 days – which is a long time to wait - but there are a few things you can do to help with the symptoms. These include probiotics and lysine (to help boost the immune system), specific non-steroid eye medications (*do not use eye medications with steroids such as dexamethasone with herpes virus or it can predispose to corneal ulceration*), antihistamines, and occasionally antivirals or antibiotics (if there is evidence of secondary bacterial infection). Contact your veterinarian first to make sure the medications and doses are correct.

You should contact your veterinarian if your cat is not eating well or has significant eye abnormalities.

Ultimately, if your cat is eating pretty well and otherwise mostly normal (besides mildly less active and showing symptoms of a cold), then your kitty will likely resolve with a little time.

Herpesvirus Infection in Cats (Kitty Cold)

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