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Colds are very common in domestic cats, especially when several animals live together. Here you will find out how to prevent, recognize and treat this disease.

Cat flu – what is it?

Everything You Need to Know About Cat Flu 7

The cat flu virus is characterized by great genetic variability, which means that there are numerous germs that can trigger this disease (it is even assumed that there are different families of viruses, in particular, the calici and the herpes virus). It follows that it is more difficult for animals to become immune. The vaccination against cat flu, for example, does not protect against all germs, but only most (and the most dangerous).

The viruses are transmitted through the respiratory tract and through direct contact. The disease is highly contagious. It is a virus that is common in cats that live in groups outside (in cities, for example) or in an animal shelter. Without a high vaccination rate and good handling of sick animals (treatment, quarantine, etc.), it is difficult to contain this disease.

Another important property of this pathogen is that it hides in the cells of its carrier between two phases of disease development, which means that the immune system and, if necessary, drugs cannot eliminate it. A sick animal will therefore carry the virus for its entire life despite treatment. It is important to realize that you are only dealing with the crises, not defeating the virus.

It is not a disease that could be passed on to humans.

What are the symptoms of cat flu?

Everything You Need to Know About Cat Flu 8

  • Difficulty breathing: The virus attacks the mucous membranes in the nose, palate, and tongue and multiplies in these areas.
  • Hyperthermia: The cat first develops hyperthermia, which can be very severe! (sometimes over 40 ° C!).
  • Loss of appetite: They usually lose their hunger quickly, which is always problematic in cats because you have to start worrying as soon as they have not eaten for 48 hours.
  • Phlegm: Then in very many cases the nose runs and the eyes water. It often happens that so much mucus is produced that the cat’s sense of smell is impaired, which of course does not help the cat to eat again. The formation of mucus is accompanied by loud breathing noises (whistling) and the cat sneezes or coughs.

The crises can vary in severity: They can range from mild hyperthermia to breathing problems that are so severe that they can lead to death. Kittens and old animals are the most sensitive because their immune systems are weaker.

Do not hesitate to make an appointment with the vet in the event of a crisis, or an emergency appointment if the symptoms appear suddenly and are severe: the outlook for a cat with a weak immune system is poor.

How can you treat cat flu?

In some crises, a stay in a veterinary clinic may be necessary, and in some cases even in the form of emergency treatment, because the disease can be life-threatening in the worst cases (small kittens, old cats, cats that have been sick before). ..).

Treatment of symptoms and antibiotics will be given while giving the immune system time to defend itself. A crisis often lasts for several days. Inhalations are then often prescribed to help the cat gradually clear the mucus from its airways. Further treatment is usually carried out at home for one to two weeks.

You can find detailed information on treating cat flu here.

Prevent cat flu with vaccination

Everything You Need to Know About Cat Flu 9

It is therefore common to have cats vaccinated against this disease. However, you have to be aware that the vaccination is not effective against all cat flu pathogens. A vaccinated cat is much less likely to get this disease, but it is not immune to it if it is infected with a germ that the vaccination does not work against! There are pathogens against which there is no vaccine on the market. Since the disease is very common in cats and is also highly contagious, the positive effects of vaccinations are clearly visible: The number of sick animals decreases significantly when vaccinated.

Kittens in particular need protection – especially if they are born in an environment where they live with other cats. Old cats also need special protection. Cats that are out in the open and are therefore in contact with the pathogens more often must also be vaccinated as a matter of priority.

Vaccination can only be omitted for a cat that lives indoors and is not in contact with other cats, but even with such a specimen one should at least think about it: there is a very small risk that the owners bring home viruses if you come into contact with them yourself because they are quite resistant.

Animals that already have the disease are usually vaccinated, even if they have been carrying the virus for their entire life. The vaccination stimulates your immune system and makes it react faster when the virus spreads in the blood. When the animal already carrying the disease goes through a crisis, the body’s rapid response weakens the virus and the crisis is often much less severe than in non-vaccinated animals. Therefore, vaccinating a cat that has feline flu is worth considering!

Don’t hesitate to ask your veterinarian for advice about vaccination, to learn more about the symptoms to look out for during a crisis, and to find out about the spread of cat flu in your area!