Feline Calcivirus (FCV) is a virus that attacks a cat’s lungs, nasal passages, mouth, tongue, intestines, and the musculoskeletal system. It is highly communicable, affecting cats of all age groups. Like the human flu virus, there are many strains of FCV. It can enter a cat’s body via the eyes, nose or mouth or through direct contact with an infected cat. The virus can live up to a week in a contaminated area.
- Nasal and eye discharge
- Periodontal disease
- Lameness in the joints
- Depression and lethargy
- Ulcers on the mouth, tongue or nose
Most cats shed the virus in secretions from their eyes, nose, and mouth for at least 30 days. Some cats become carriers, appearing healthy while shedding it to other cats. They can become re-infected, making it difficult to completely eradicate FCV from a group of felines.
Diagnosis of FCV is obtained through a physical exam and blood tests. Treatment includes supportive care with IV fluids to help while the immune system tries to fight off the virus, and antibiotics to prevent and treat secondary infections. Decongestants may be used to break down the thick mucus in the nasal passage and anti-inflammatories to reduce fever and help with pain relief from mouth ulcers. If not treated promptly, FCV can lead to pneumonia and chronic gingivitis.
To prevent or reduce the likelihood of FCV in your home, have kittens vaccinated and talk to your veterinarian about vaccines for your adult cat. Limit contact with other cats, keep food and water bowls indoors, and wash your hands after contact with unfamiliar cats. Have new feline additions to your family tested before bringing them home.
Vaccines against FCV are part of the core vaccine series we recommend for your kitty, with boosters following. Contact us if you have questions about your cat and FCV.
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