Feline Rhinotracheitis Symptoms

Feline rhinotracheitis virus is one of the infections that contributes to feline upper respiratory disease complex. Although respiratory infections occur due to other viral diseases, feline rhinotracheitis is the most common cause. The virus affects cats of all age groups. However, pets living within close proximity to infected pets, particularly at catteries or shelters, are at greatest risk of contracting the virus. Pet owners who lodge cats in boarding facilities should ensure that individual units are located at a safe distance to protect the pet from viral or contagious diseases.

Transmission of Feline Rhinotracheitis

Feline rhinotracheitis, also known as feline herpes virus, is easily transmitted to other cats if they come in contact with contaminated sources such as food and water bowls. Healthy pets that come in direct contact with nasal and eye discharge of cats suffering from the disease also contract the virus. Cats cured of the virus become carriers of the disease and can infect other pets when they shed the virus during stress or trauma. Feline rhinotracheitis virus can be effectively controlled or treated with medication, and pet owners that notice any symptoms of respiratory disease should seek medical help to start treatment early.

Symptoms of Feline Rhinotracheitis Include:

  • Sneezing
  • Nasal and eye discharge
  • Cat pink eye
  • Fever
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Nasal Inflammation
  • Inflammation of the eye

Development of Symptoms

Cats infected with the virus exhibit symptoms within 2 days of initial infection. The severity of infection also determines the type of symptoms present. The pet's age and general health condition plays an important role. Cats with weak immune systems are more susceptible to secondary infections such as bordetella or calcivirus. During the treatment of sick pets, the vet will evaluate the clinical symptoms and secondary infections present and prescribe medications to speed recovery and keep the cat comfortable.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Feline Rhinotracheitis

The vet will perform a polymerase chain reaction test and a fluroscein stain test to determine the presence of strains of bacteria. A PCR test for the virus is a speedy and safe diagnostic test that detects the virus present in samples taken through nasal or oral swabs. The conjunctiva of the eye may also be used as a sample for testing. Once diagnosis is confirmed, the vet will prescribe antibiotic medication to cure bacterial infections. Plenty of home care and rest is essential to help the cat recuperate. In addition, conjunctivitis and eye infections are treated with antibiotic eye medication. Cats severely affected by the virus may require IV fluids and supportive care to prevent further deterioration.

Home Care and Prevention

Since feline rhinotracheitis virus is contagious, pet owners should keep sick cats away from healthy pets. The cat should be kept warm and prevented from roaming outdoors. Food and water bowls should be washed and surroundings disinfected to prevent re-infection. There are several types of vaccines available to protect pets from contagious diseases and they're recommended for pets lodged frequently at catteries or boarding facilities. Although vaccines are effective, they may not protect the pet entirely from the disease.

Cats that are carriers of the disease may exhibit mild symptoms during times of stress. Some pets can also develop chronic infections due to the virus.