I think my feline best friend caught the cat flu bug.
I woke up one morning last week and noticed my cat was not waiting outside my door to greet me as she does every morning. She was rolled up in her bed, she simply lifted her head to look at me and then settled right back down to sleep.
I could tell she was not feeling well, but what was wrong? With time I noticed more and more symptoms indicating a classic case of cat flu. She got better fast enough—some cats infected can be sick for up to a week—but not all adult cats are the same.
Other cats can be more prone to upper respiratory infections and secondary bacterial infections during these situations.
Do you have a cat that is "under the weather" but you're not sure if it is cat flu? This article will help you identify the symptoms and get cat flu treated quickly!
Symptoms of Cat Flu to Look Out For
Just to emphasize, the term "cat flu" is simply a shortcut for "cat influenza virus."
It is a common illness that is akin to human flu (aka human colds) and most cats display the same indicators of the same when they do get infected.
Common indicators of flu in cats
Affected cats usually experience the following symptoms when they're suffering from this health issue:
Runny nose (clear, yellow, or green discharge) or blocked nose
Swollen, runny, and sore eyes
Aches and pains in joints and muscles
Loss of voice (the delicate lining of the throat is affected, especially in kittens)
Lack of appetite (even if you're serving roast chicken!)
All felines are not the same and will not necessarily have all these symptoms of cat flu. Many cats will even have a sudden aversion to strong-smelling foods during this illness!
Since cats are usually great explorers and love to play, the first noticeable symptoms will usually be lethargy, runny nose, and a change in appetite.
The key is to identify the symptoms of cat flu infection as soon as possible to prevent the virus from getting worse or spreading to your other kitties if you have more than one cat at home.
Healthy cats can be infected through direct contact
Carrier cats—there are even felines that are symptom-free carriers—can infect other cats with flu viruses and upper respiratory infections in a lot of ways.
Infected cats shed virus particles and can be highly contagious. They can even spread this illness through infected feed bowls, blankets, toys, and similar items.
Remember that young kittens and older cats are more prone to this health concern since they typically have weaker immune systems. Even vaccinated cats can be a target when they have shared food bowls in a boarding cattery, for example.
Is Feline Herpes Virus the Same as the Flu?
The answer is no.
It doesn't work like the feline herpes virus. However, the risk in cats become higher if they have underlying illnesses or are more prone to bacterial infections or secondary infection.
In this health problem, cats can develop flu symptoms, but mostly eye ulcers and upper respiratory infections. Cat flu is more like a human cold and is generally not life-threatening.
It is not the same as Feline Calicivirus, either.
Similarly, cat flu is not the same as the feline calicivirus (FCV), which is indicated by persistent upper respiratory infections like chronic rhinitis and mouth ulcers in severe cases.
Regardless if it is feline calicivirus or herpesvirus, immediate veterinary attention.
A vet may prescribe antibiotics or even administer intravenous fluids and relevant supportive treatment, especially when kittens or older cats are affected, to relieve symptoms.
Cat Flu in a Nutshell
Cat flu is an upper respiratory tract disease that can be caused by several different pathogens.
Humans cannot catch cat flu, though.
In most common cases feline herpes virus and calicivirus, also known as FVR (feline viral rhinotracheitis) are the cat flu culprits. However, upper respiratory infection (URI) may also come into play as reported by International Cat Care and Blue Cross.
How Long Does an Infected Cat Get Sick?
In general, cat flu lasts a total of 7-10 days.
However, secondary bacterial infections can cause the symptoms to linger several weeks more. Playing a big role in how fast they will recover is their age. While generally not fatal, cat flu is very dangerous to kittens as their immune system is not fully developed or prepared to fight infections.
The problem with a multi-cat household
If you have a multi-cat household, the task of treatment and prevention becomes trickier.
Since cat flu is very contagious, the infected cat should be quarantined from the other cats for at least 2 weeks. A feeding tube may be required for affected kittens because they might not be able to consume normal food.
It is good to remember that this virus can easily spread via infected toys, litter trays, water or food bowls, and even the clothes and hands of those who have come into contact with the infected cat.
Careful attention should be given to prevent the infection of your other cats. Disinfect everything!
What Can Help Relieve Flu in Young and Adult Cats?
It is most definitely not pleasant to see our pets so miserable and cats cannot drive to the pharmacy to pick up some cold and flu medication!
Cats will typically sleep when they are not feeling well as there is nothing much else, they can do. So how can we help them get relief fast?
A visit to the vet is not just an option you can go for
One option is to have your cat checked by the vet. This will confirm your suspicions that it is indeed cat flu. Then, they will probably suggest vaccines or prescribe some antibiotics.
While these pills will be effective, they can be tricky to give to your cat. If your cat is like mine, we have to be two to hold her to give her one pill.
A WORD OF WARNING: If you opt for the vaccine, remember your cat will become slightly ill. Vaccines must also be kept up to date with the new strains of the disease. As for antibiotics, they often prove to be ineffective in these cases and have been known to aggravate the problem. Side effects such as diarrhea, vomiting, and liver disease are common.
A NATURAL PRODUCT: I recommend having a premium natural emergency kit in your home pet care checklist. This product will be useful in case of the early stages of the illness (clear color discharge from the nose is a good indicator). As a pet parent, you want to prevent the cat flu from developing into a chronic condition.
If your cat is already suffering and enduring a more severe virus infection, a different strategy is to be preferred. You can tell the severity by the nasal discharge turning thick and yellow or green. This formula has anti-inflammatory attributes.
Another great product to have on hand for any healthy animal is probiotics! PROBIOPET effectively helps boost their immune system by 6 to 8 times! This means your pet becomes more resilient against health issues. A must to keep healthy pets for a long time!
No-Fuss Cat Flu Treatment Home Tips
It’s important to make sure that your cat stays well-hydrated during its recovery.
This also helps prevent cat flu recurrence. Make sure your cat has access to fresh water at all times. Adding a few bowls of water around the house, or even a small fountain, can motivate your kitty cat to drink lots of water.
This will help their immune system to function properly and help them fight the virus that is causing the symptoms.
In addition, providing canned food helps increase water intake for your cat. You can also add a little warm water to the same, which will make it more palatable and easier to swallow for a cat with an irritated throat.
You can also bring your cat to the bathroom when you take a hot shower. This will act like a small sauna and the steam will help relieve its congestion. You can also clean your pet with the use of damp cotton wool pads.
HOMEOPATH & CO-FOUNDER OF ZUMALKA
Suzie Cyrenne has dedicated more than 20 years of her life in making and improving natural animal health solutions in the global setting.
Being the co-founder of Zumalka, Suzie is a forerunner in enhancing the lives of pets through natural and homeopathic options using the knowledge she has gained from the Classical Homeopathy School in Quebec.
Besides immersing herself in books, personal development and visiting new places, Suzie also enjoys keeping herself in tiptop shape by snowboarding and taking daily hikes with her husband and Zumalka co-founder, Matt Lessard, and their Golden-Doodle, Westin.