Cat herpes, otherwise known as rhinotracheitis, is an upper respiratory illness that can also potentially affect the eyes. It is an airborne virus, and because of how easily cat herpes spreads, cats that live with other cats in the same household are the most at risk. While L-Lysine supplements are not a direct cure for cat herpes, it has been clinically shown to both decrease a cat's risk of contracting the rhinotracheitis virus, and slow the growth of the infection.
Symptoms of Cat Herpes
You can tell if your cat has the cat herpes virus if it displays excessive sneezing and nasal discharge. Cats infected with the feline herpes virus can also get rhinitis, or an inflammation of the nose. It is uncommon for a case of cat herpes to affect the eyes, except in young kittens, which have a less developed immune system. Ocular infection also grows more likely as the cat gets older. Kittens usually experience so much ocular discharge that their eyelids stick together, while adult cats that contract an ocular case of rhinotracheitis are more likely to display corneal ulcers and recurrent conjunctivitis (inflammation of the membrane lining the eyelid).
How Do L-Lysine Supplements Work?
Viral infections grow when an individual virus takes control of a host cell and makes it use its resources to manufacture more viruses. The virus does this by injecting its DNA into the nucleus of the host cell. This strip of genetic material contains instructions that the cell's chemical machinery can use to build more viruses. The host cell, unable to distinguish between the viral DNA and its own, will continue to make more viruses until it bursts, releasing the viruses into the body to infect more cells.
An uninfected cell usually does not use much of a particular amino acid called arginine, while cells that are infected use a lot of it to make more copies of the virus. The cell's natural chemical process that uses arginine is limited by the quantity of L-Lysine (another amino acid) that's available. By giving daily L-Lysine supplements to your cat, you increase the quantity of L-Lysine available for the cat's cells to use, which means that the cell uses more arginine for its natural functions. This leaves less arginine available for the production of the cat herpes virus, thereby slowing the growth of the infection.
While the respiratory form of feline herpes is an uncomfortable and contagious infection, still more unbearable for a feline is an ocular rhinotracheitis infection. By administering a daily L-Lysine supplement, you can both help slow an already present infection in your cat, and prevent your cat from contracting future infections.