The Cat Flu is An upper respiratory infection specific to cats.

Signs Your Cat may Have The Flu

The two most important causes are Feline Herpesvirus (FHV) and Feline Calicivirus (FCV), and each will tend to cause somewhat different signs. They are highly contagious and spread in the mucous secretion by coughing and sneezing. FHV generally causes the most severe disease, with runny eyes, nose, and excessive salivation. The cat often feels very unwell indeed, will run a temperature, and refuse to eat or drink. Sometimes the virus attack s the surface of the eye, causing nasty ulcers that can even lead to loss of sight. FCV often causes milder signs, most commonly with ulcers around the mouth and on the tongue, although it can sometimes cause pneumonia to develop. From time to time, the vir us can also cause lameness is one or more joints, especially in kittens, without any of the cat flu signs that might be expected.


As well as FHV and FCV, there are several other agents that can cause flu-like signs, but cats cannot catch influenza or colds from humans.


Topical antiviral drops are sometimes helpful for eye ulcers caused by FHV, but generally all that can be given is antibiotics to control secondary bacterial infection, and supportive treatment with oral or intravenous fluids to prevent dehydration. Careful nursing is particularly important, cleaning away discharges from the nose and eyes regularly and gently tempting the cat to eat mushy strong-smelling foods that have been warmed to blood heat. Cats that have been infected with the cat flu virus may remain carriers for a long time for life in the case of FHV, and for several months with FCV. A cat severely affected by FHV, especially early in life, may develop a persistent conjunctivitis or rhinitis (runny nose) for the rest of its life, that often tends to get worse when the cat is stressed, such as when it enters a cattery or gives both to kittens, so it is readily passed on to other cats at this time. A vaccine to control the cat flu viruses become available in the 1970′ s. Most of the vaccines are administered in injectable form, but one of the flu virus vaccines is designed to be given a very good protection and takes effect very rapidly, it is not widely used nowadays. This is partly due to the difficulty of trying to administer the vaccine to an uncooperative cat, and partly because there does seem to be a higher incidence of post-vaccination side-effects, such as sneezing, afterwards. Generally, the injectable flu vaccination works well, but they will not be effective id a cat is vaccinated when it is already a carrier of FHV. Additionally, there are several strains of FCV, and although the vaccines protect against the most common strains, sometimes, just as with the human flu vaccine, a strain of virus comes along that is not included in the vaccine.