Causes of Feline Calicivirus
There are many infectious strains of feline calicivirus and this infection is found worldwide. A feline infection involving the upper respiratory tract can be caused by FCV or one of several other viruses, including feline herpes virus, rhinotracheitis virus or chlamydiosis. Often, FCV will be found simultaneously with one or more of these other infections, adding to the symptoms and problems caused. Depending upon the strain of this cat virus, some or all of the long list of symptoms may be present. Transmission occurs by direct contact with infected saliva, discharge from the eyes and nose and occasionally from infected feces.
This cat infection can survive many temperatures, conditions and most disinfectants, meaning that transmission can still occur even after a thorough cleaning of bedding, dishes and litter boxes. Latent carriers of the disease, those not showing any symptoms, can be contagious for years, so it's important to have your own cats tested and limit exposure to unknown and neighborhood cats.
Symptoms of Feline Calicivirus
Depending upon the strain of feline calicivirus, a cat could experience a number of different symptoms. Some strains produce ulcers in the mouth and on the paws, but most commonly a cat will show signs of upper respiratory infection, such as fever, nasal discharge, conjunctivitis, sneezing, pneumonia and secondary bacterial infections. The cat may also show signs of lameness in the joints, difficulty breathing or loss of appetite. This infection usually develops suddenly, but if ulcers are present with no other symptoms, you may want to have your feline tested to rule out FCV.
Treatment of Feline Calicivirus
Since there is no cure for feline calicivirus, treatment options are limited to that of supportive care. If secondary infections or other side effects develop, medication or holistic supplements can be provided to alleviate irritation. As an ongoing in-home treatment, you could monitor the cat for symptoms and react accordingly. Ulcers of the mouth may require softer and more palatable foods. Problems with breathing could be alleviated with the use of a humidifier or oxygen therapy, depending upon the severity of the condition. Regularly clean the eyes and nose of discharge, and keep your cat in a warm and well ventilated environment. There is not currently an antiviral medication that works well for this virus, so your prescription options should be kept to a minimum of eye ointments, pain medication for arthritic conditions and antibiotics to prevent secondary bacteria. You may also benefit from research of holistic and herbal alternatives.