Symptoms of Feline Upper Respiratory Infection

A respiratory infection in cats is a common illness. These infections are contagious and can be severe. Therefore, it's important for owners to know the signs of an upper respiratory infection in his cat, or an infection in other cats his pet may be exposed to.

Causes of Upper Respiratory Infections in Cats

There are two viruses that cause most of the upper respiratory infections seen in cats: the feline calicivirus (FCV) and the feline herpes virus (FV1). These viruses are only transmittable from cat to cat. Bordatella and chlamydia are also known to cause upper respiratory infections in cats.

These viruses are not to be confused with colds a cat may catch, which could last up to 10 days. A cat that has contracted FCV or FV1 may experience upper respiratory infections as a chronic condition. He will have to deal with these throughout the span of his life, as there is no cure for FCV and FV1. Stress can trigger the virus to act up, causing the cat to become ill and contagious.

Upper respiratory infections can be prevented with vaccines, and by keeping an infected cat isolated from other cats when his symptoms flare up. When your cat will be boarded for any period of time, make sure the establishment requires cats to be vaccinated against the viruses that can cause an upper respiratory infection.

Cats Most at Risk for an Upper Respiratory Infection

Kittens, since they have weaker immune systems, are very susceptible to upper respiratory infections. Adult cats that are often around other cats because they were in an animal shelter, were boarded in a cattery for a period of time, who have been introduced to a new cat with an infection or are social outside cats, are also at a higher risk for developing an upper respiratory infection. All cats can fall ill to this type of infection, but Persian cats are predisposed to this condition. The flat faces of Persian cats make it easier for them to catch the viruses that cause an upper respiratory infection.

Symptoms of Feline Upper Respiratory Infection

A cat with an upper respiratory infection will have nasal discharge that may or may not be clear in color. Other symptoms include:

  • Sneezing
  • Cough
  • Runny eyes (possibly infected) that may be red or inflamed
  • Hoarseness heard in cat's meow, because of the coughing
  • Fevers
  • Ulcers on the nose, gums, lips or tongue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lack of energy
A cat that has a great or complete loss of appetite, is running a high fever or is extremely lethargic or listless may require hospitalization. Upper respiratory infections can be prevented with vaccines and simple precautionary measures. The prognosis for a cat with an infections does not have to be bad, if a pet owner recognizes the symptoms and seeks treatment in a timely manner.