Viral Infections in Cats

Viral infections are caused by viruses. A virus is a living organism smaller and more resistant than bacteria. Viruses are protected by a coating and can exist outside hosts. The severity of feline viral infections varies. Cats can have mild viral infections or develop a more serious disease which can be fatal. Therefore, it is recommended to pay attention to your cat’s behavior and look for any abnormal behavior or symptoms. Make an appointment with your veterinarian and have your cat checked.

Viral Infections in Cats

Cats can develop a series of infections caused by viruses. Viral infections can be mild or life-threatening. Antibiotics are not recommended in viral infections. In some cases they can even worsen the situation. Viral infections are treated with anti-viral medication. Some viruses can be destroyed with disinfectants while others are extremely resilient and difficult to kill.

Generally viruses can be easily transmitted through direct contact with an infected cat.

Most common viral infections in cats are caused by:

  • Feline herpes virus and feline calicivirus
  • Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV)
  • Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)
  • Feline parvovirus
  • Feline infectious peritonitis virus

You can vaccinate your cat against a series of viruses, but vaccines do not offer 100% protection. Some vaccines can also cause side effects. Vaccines are not recommended if the cat is already infected.

Feline Herpes Virus and Feline Calicivirus

Feline herpes virus and feline calicivirus cause feline rhinitis or influenza. The symptoms include:

  • Sneezing and coughing
  • Nasal discharge
  • Watery eyes
  • Lack of appetite and lethargy
  • Ulceration around the mouth and nose (feline calicivirus)

The best preventative measure is vaccination.

Feline Leukemia Virus

The Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) attacks the cat’s immune system. It is transmitted through direct contact with infected cats, but it does not infect humans. In most cases it causes a deadly infection. However, there are cats that can carry the virus without getting infected and others develop a natural immunity to it. It is recommended that you vaccinate your cat against this virus.

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) can lead to the immunodeficiency syndrome. It attacks the cat’s immune system rendering him vulnerable to all sorts of diseases. The FIV is similar to human HIV. However, FIV cannot be passed to humans and HIV cannot be transmitted to cats. There is no vaccination against this virus.

Feline Parvovirus

Feline parvovirus is passed from one cat to another through bodily secretions. The virus enters the cat’s bloodstream and spreads in the cat’s body. It becomes very dangerous and jeopardizes the cat’s life when it reaches the bone marrow. The infection can be prevented if you vaccinate your cat when he is 5 to 9 weeks old.

Feline Infectious Peritonitis Virus

Feline infectious peritonitis causes severe diarrhea. It can affect cats regardless of age. The virus is not very common, but it can be deadly. There is no vaccination for this type of infection. Outside the host’s body, the virus can be destroyed with cleaning detergents.