Supportive Feline Calicivirus Treatment

Feline calicivirus is a type of viral infection that causes upper respiratory infection in cats. The virus takes nearly 15 days to incubate and pets infected with calicivirus exhibit symptoms of the flu. Since feline calicivirus is a contagious disease, it’s important to treat sick pets promptly and prevent healthy pets from coming in contact with sick cats. The symptoms exhibited, vary according to the severity of infection present and the strain of virus that causes the infection. Since the infection often accompanies other health conditions such as herpes virus and rhinotracheitis, it’s important to obtain an accurate diagnosis to detect the cause of various symptoms exhibited.

Common Symptoms of Feline Calicivirus

  • Ocular discharge
  • Nasal inflammation and discharge
  • Sneezing
  • Fever
  • Ulcers in the oral cavity and on the paws
  • Gingivitis

Transmission of Feline Calicivirus

Most cats become infected with the virus when they come in contact with contaminated surfaces such as food or water bowls. Since the virus is present in ocular and nasal discharge, pet owners should ensure that pets are housed in individual units at boarding facilities to avoid contraction of viral or contagious diseases. Cats that are completely cured of feline calicivirus may become carriers of the disease for life. Due to this reason they may shed the virus in the environment during times of stress. Pet owners should ensure that the cat’s surroundings are periodically disinfected and the bedding washed thoroughly to avoid re-infection and maintain hygiene.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Feline Calicivirus

The vet will obtain a confirmed diagnosis after conducting polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests. This test works effectively to detect specific strains of bacteria or virus according to the DNA present in the sample. In addition, it provides results within a short time which helps the vet initiate early treatment. Other tests include blood tests, laboratory analysis of samples of nasal discharge and cells present in the conjunctiva.

Clinical symptoms such as oral lesions that accompany respiratory illnesses are strong indicators of calicivirus. The treatment of feline calicivirus includes prescription medication such as antibiotic drugs to cure bacterial infections. The vet will also prescribe other drugs to bring relief from nasal inflammation and sneezing. Although antibiotics and other medicines work effectively on sick pets, it’s important to use supportive care to keep the cat comfortable.

Supportive Care

Cats suffering from calicivirus should be kept in a warm environment, free from stress and other pets. It’s important to wipe away nasal and eye discharge periodically to help the cat breathe and avoid irritation. A warm moist towel is ideal for this purpose. Cats should be encouraged to consume food and water as this will help them recuperate fast. The cat may be offered his favorite meal or the meal may be slightly warmed to draw the pet’s interest through smell. Due to sneezing and nasal discharge, the cat will experience difficulty breathing. Pet owners should use a vaporizer to reduce nasal congestion and increase humidity in the cat’s environment.

Severely Sick Cats

If the pet is severely ill, the vet will recommend hospitalization to help the cat revive. IV fluids and oxygen therapy may be necessary to maintain normal bodily functioning. Force feeding procedures may also be adopted to supply nutrients to cats that refuse to consume food due to oral lesions present. Force feeding is conducted by attaching a tube to the cat’s stomach to supply food.

Although care takers cannot contract feline calicivirus from pets, it’s best to maintain hygiene by washing hands thoroughly. Routine vaccinations reduce the risk of contracting feline calicivirus. The killed vaccine is suited to most pets as it’s safer for use in young pets and cats with low immune system function.