Feline Respiratory Infection Treatment with Interferon-Alpha

Feline respiratory disease is often caused by viral infections. Healthy pets contract the disease from infected cats through contaminated sources such as food and water bowls. Infected pets also spread germs to other cats by sneezing or through nasal and eye discharge. Feline upper respiratory diseases include infections such as feline rhinotracheitis virus and feline calcivirus. Most cats infected with the virus exhibit symptoms within the first two weeks.

Symptoms of Feline Respiratory Diseases

  • Fever
  • Nasal discharge
  • Loss of appetite
  • Pneumonia
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Sneezing
  • Eye discharge

Diagnosis of Feline Respiratory Disease

In order to treat cats suffering from feline respiratory disease the vet will first confirm the diagnosis by testing pets against certain diagnostic criteria such as polymerase chain reaction tests, fluorescein stain testing and evaluation of the clinical symptoms. The vet will also consider the cat's previous risk of exposure to the disease. Pet owners should inform the vet if the cat has been administered any vaccines in the past. In addition to these diagnostic tests, the vet will also conduct tests to rule out underlying conditions such as feline leukemia virus and feline immunodeficiency virus.

Treatment of Feline Respiratory Disease

Feline respiratory disease is generally cured with rest and proper nutrition. A bronchodilator works effectively to open nasal passages. Nasal and eye discharge should be cleaned with a soft cloth and sick pets should be kept away from healthy cats living in the same house. It addition to home care, the vet may prescribed interferon-alpha to treat feline respiratory disease that's accompanied by herpes virus or chronic infections.

Interferon-Alpha for Cats

Interferon-alpha is an artificially formulated medication used to treat viral infections. Although the drug is registered for use only in humans, it can be legally prescribed as an extra label drug to treat cats suffering from viral disease and certain cancers. The medication helps the cat's immune system fight the infections. Interferon-alpha is available in injection form in varying concentrations.

Dosage and Administration of Interferon-Alpha for Cats

The medication is administered orally to cats in repeated cycles with periodic intervals. Most cats are administered 30 IU of interferon once a day. The duration of medication is altered after the cat's initial response to treatment. The vet may also prescribe the medication according to the cat's age and weight. Although several pets respond positively to interferon-alpha, few cats develop side effects.

Adverse Reactions

Interferon-alpha shouldn't be administered to cats that have known sensitivity to ingredients in the medicine. Pets that suffer from prolonged side effects such as vomiting or lack of appetite may not benefit from the drug. Liver disorders, neurological disorders and anemia may also occur in few pets.

Additional Medication

Apart from interferon-alpha, the vet may prescribe antibiotic medicines to kill secondary bacterial infections. Eye ointment and oral medications will also cure ocular infection. Oral lysine is another medication used to treat respiratory disease associated with herpes virus. Pets that are cured from respiratory diseases may become carriers of the disease for life. They can then shed the virus during stress.

Pet owners should weigh the pros and cons of vaccinating pets and discuss with the vet, vaccinations that are essential to individual cats.