My Cat Has What?

By Betsey Cichoracki

Herpes. Ever since high school health class that word has prompted “ewws” and “gross!” in the minds of many. So when our vet informed me that our cat Coal has herpes, I thought “ewww” before even learning what feline herpes really is. Turns out a herpes virus means many things among many species.

Feline herpes or feline rhinotracheitis virus (FHV-1) is a respiratory illness that affects domestic and wild cats worldwide. Not unlike a feline upper respiratory infection, symptoms include sneezing, nasal discharge, inflammation of the nose, and inflammation of the eyelid membrane. In Coal, it looked liked he had a bad cold. He would sneeze, have watery eyes, and the biggest green “boogers” (eww!) would come oozing from his nose. At first, we were quite concerned and made many trips to the vet’s office. We tried antibiotics, vitamins, aroma-therapy (stress is an inducer), eye drops, and all have helped manage the symptoms but in the end, like all viruses it has to run its course. And in some cases it can be recurring.

We’ve determined that our guy is a chronic carrier of FHV-1 and he has flare-ups from time to time. Because he is a chronic carrier, he gets a daily dose of L-lysine, which is a nutritional supplement that’s available in a variety of forms. The supplement supports his immune system and reduces stress to keep the flare-ups minimal. This is a common and effective treatment as suggested by veterinarians and the cats seem to like it too. Coal thinks it’s a treat and licks it off his food without hesitation.

Unfortunately the virus is contagious to other felines but NOT humans and vice versa-humans with a type of herpes can not transmit to a cat. However, we do worry about bringing a second cat into our home – unless it already has the FHV-1 virus. Coal can be in the same room as other cats as long as he doesn’t have an active herpes flareup. The virus can be shed through the discharge from an infected cat’s eyes, nose, and mouth. The most common mode of transmission appears to be contact with contaminated objects that an infected cat has touched or sneezed on including cages, food and water bowls, litter trays, pet owner’s clothing, and the pet

Feline herpes can be managed with L-lysine supplements

owner’s hands. But the most important thing to note is that it is not life-threatening if treated properly and he behaves just like any other cat…. unpredictable at all times!

So if you see a cat / kitten up for adoption that potentially has FHV-1, I hope it doesn’t discourage you from giving them a fur-ever home. We wouldn’t trade Coal for the world-boogers and all!


Filed under ACDC News, Adopted Animals, Animal Rescue, Animals in our care, Foster Parents, Pet Tips, Pet Tips - Cats, Uncategorized, Volunteers

2 responses to “My Cat Has What?

  1. Sherri Serbin

    We also adopted a kitten from the SPCA that has chronic Feline Herpes. We were told that he had an upper respiratory infection, that he was treated for it and it would go away, but, a year later, it has never gone away. We took him to several vets, none of which told us it was Herpes. They all said it was an upper respiratory infection and gave him different kinds of antibiotics. Then he got a urinary tract infection, which I am convinced was from taking so many antibiotics! Finally, a friend on Facebook said she had a cat with the same symptoms and it sounded like Herpes. She said we should get him Lycine, which we have. It has calmed the symptoms down, but not taken them away, unfortunately! We wash his face every morning, because he gets eye boogers that stick to his fur. If we don’t wash them off, they stick so bad that if we scrape them off, they can take some of his skin off and leave terrible sores! Washing every day alleviates that. We also wash his nostrils every day. He gets black stuff stuck there too. Then we put a compress of eye drops on each eye which alleviates the soreness and helps to keep the stains to a minimum (he’s mostly white!). And we put an ointment on his nose to help with the crustiness. Our poor Jackson has never had the feeling of having a soft, wet nose! His is always crusty and dry, but this ointment helps. And we give him Lycine paste every day, which he loves. We, too, would not trade our Jackson, who we affectionately call, ‘Trouble’, for any other cat! He is playful and curious and soooo adorable! We adopted a second kitten at the same time, who, fortunately, has never had it and has not gotten it from him! She must have a better immune system or something! I am thankful for that. Jackson hates to get his face washed every day, but other than that, he is a normal, active, affectionate, adorable 1 year old. I am looking for a vet in the Delaware County area who knows Feline Herpes. The ones we’ve been to, obviously had no clue! Can anyone help?

  2. Venus Loisel

    the great thing about lysine is that it can help our immune system and it also improves our overall health. ”

    My blog site

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