How do you care for a Cat that has Herpes?
Feline viral rhinotracheitis is also known as cat herpes. This is a different strain of the virus than that found in humans and other animals. Therefore it cannot be passed from humans to cats or vice versa. However, it is no less serious in cats than humans.
Cats and kittens can contract herpes from each other. The most common method of contracting the virus is for an exposed queen to spread it to her kittens. A queen is a fertile, kitten-bearing female cat. Since it is imperative that the kittens nurse from their mothers, they are almost always carriers of the contagion themselves either by infection in the womb or physical cleaning once they're born. Cats can also spread it to each other by bathing each others faces. A cat's tongue, with its rough texture, easily captures the herpes virus with each lick.
Kittens with herpes are often misdiagnosed. The symptoms are quite similar to the common cold. The kitten will sneeze, will exhibit watery eyes, and will almost always have a runny nose. It may drool, seem lethargic, or squint. Some cats may even experience the symptoms of depression, which include lack of appetite, sleeping all the time, and antisocial behavior. The only difference between herpes and a cold or depression is that these symptoms will not go away after a week or two.
In addition to these obvious physical abnormalities, a kitten will also have sores on the inside of the mouth, in the ear, and up the nasal cavity. There are also irritants in the eye that make them water. The kitten may not seem to be in any pain, but that is only because it has never known a life without such aggravations.
It is important to treat the symptoms right away. This is done on kittens and cats with lysine solutions like Enisyl-F paste which is used for treatment of Feline Herpes Virus FHV-1. They are available in several forms ( lysine for cats on Amazon ). The first is a powder that is shaken over food, to coat the kibbles once a day (most store-bought cat food comes in either dry form, also known in the US as kibble or wet canned form). This is strongly recommended for kittens and cats with an aversion to the taste. By spreading out a teaspoon over an entire plate of food, the owner is diffusing the powder in the smallest possible offensive form. The second form is a gel (like Viralys Gel). This gel smells like maple syrup and is irresistible to some felines. It is also the least expensive, at roughly $26 per 8oz. Unfortunately, this method must be administered twice a day. The dose is one half inch strip per administration. The final method is 6 lysine treats (Enisyl-F Lysine Treats for Cats). Lysine treats are often the most effective treatment early on. Kittens and cats love treats, but eventually they will lose their appeal when competing with traditional, more flavorful cat treats. These must also be administered twice a day.
Although these treatments are done daily, there are occasions where the kitten or cat will have a flare up of symptoms. This is evidenced by sneezing, runny nose, and runny eyes. When this occurs it is necessary to double the dose of lysine for one treatment. One treatment will normally take care of all the outward symptoms within an hour or two. When necessary, extra lysine may be administered.
Kittens and cats with herpes are often seen as repulsive. Their sad faces and constant sneezing detracts from their natural beauty and aesthetic appeal. When managed with lysine, however, they will return to looking and acting normally.
Even healthy cats can catch this virus. It is therefore important that cats with herpes do not interact with other cats that have the virus, including separating litter boxes and not allowing them to groom each other. Cats with lowered immune systems, such as Persian cat breed and other flat-faced breeds, are also highly susceptible to the rhinotracheitis virus.
Because so many cats with herpes exhibit the signs and symptoms of depression, it is of vital importance that the owners actively engage their pets in playtime. Playing with a cat stimulates it and leads to a faster recovery. Active cats are also in physically better shape and suffer from fewer abnormalities like obesity and asthma. They are therefore more readily able to compete with the virus when a flare up occurs.
Regardless of your cat's health, you should always take care to play with your pet when it is feeling bad, medicated it when it is sick, and provide all the love and affection you can for it when it needs you the most. Cats are our special friends and deserve the best treatment possible.
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Author: REBECCA GOLDENBERG, United States
Edited by: Rajesh Bihani ( Find me on Google+ )