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Cat disease - Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (FVR)

Cat disease -Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (FVR)

This herpes-virus infection is one of the most vexing – and most habitual – diseases that affect catteries. The first episode of infection normally lasts several weeks. Reoccurrences last 3-10 days. After recovering from FVR cats continue to shed the virus intermittently from back of the mouth (oropharynx) for many months, thereby posing an infectious threat to healthy cats are most likely to shed herpes virus during times of stress. In addition, queens infected with FVR as kittens may eventually pass the virus to their young.

Cat Symptoms

Herpes-virus symptoms can be ocular (occurring in the eyes) or systemic (occurring any other part of the body). Ocular symptoms include keratoconjunctivitis, a painful inflammation of the cornea (the transparent outer portion of the coating of the eye) and the conjunctiva (the mucous membrane that covers the surface of the eyeball and that lines the inner surface of the eyelids). Keratoconjunctivitis, which sometimes leads to corneal ulcers in large-eyed breeds, causes a cat to keep his eyes completely or partially closed and to shed tears copiously.

Systemic symptoms of a herpes-virus infection include rhinitis, an inflammation of the mucous membrane of the nasal passage that causes sneezing and runny nose. Some cats afflicted with herpes virus develop chronic rhinitis and/or sinusitis because of permanent damage to the walls of the nasal passages. Herpes virus can also lead to pneumonia, a potential cause of rapid death in very young cats.

Cat Diagnosis

Herpes-virus infections can be diagnosed by examining nasal, ocular or oral secretions and by checking cell scrapings from the conjunctiva for cellular changes.

Cat Treatment

Treatments includes antiviral drugs in the form of eye drops, antibiotics to prevent secondary bacterial infections and if necessary, intravenous fluids. In chronic cases the nasal passages can be kept clear with a dose of Neosynephrine or the equivalent administered every other day. Steroids (cortisone) are not recommended because they can reactivate the infection, suppress the immune system and prevent corneal ulcers from healing.


Prevention is best accomplished by vaccination, good cattery hygiene and by avoiding overcrowding in the cattery. (If you have so many cats you cannot give each one fifteen to twenty minutes worth of individual attention each day, your cattery is over-crowded) Because FVR and other upper respiratory infections are spread primarily through direct contact between infected and susceptible cats, breeders/owners should isolate all new cats they acquire, any cats that have just seen shown and cats that have just returned after having been sent out for breeding.

Quarantine should last for at least 2 weeks. Moreover, because upper respiratory viruses are airborne, ventilation that allows 10 air exchanges per hour in the cattery room(s) is essential, so is a reasonably low humidity level and the regular use of disinfectants. The herpes virus can survive only 18-24 hours at room temperature)


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