Cat Flu


Cat flu can be caused by several different viruses or bacteria, the main ones being feline herpes virus and feline calicivirus. It affects the upper respiratory system and is extremely contagious. It spreads in saliva and nose/eye discharges. Sneezes from infected cats contain virus droplets which spread through the air, these can be breathed in or contaminate items such as food bowls, bedding and clothing. Cat flu symptoms can range vastly in severity and some can be serious causing life threatening complications, especially in kittens, very old cats or those with a damaged immune system.

Symptoms include:

  • Sneezing
  • Watery eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Lethargy (low energy)
  • Poor appetite
  • Dribbling
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Fever (high temperature)
  • Sore throat (you might see swallowing or gagging)
  • Coughing
  • Noisy or difficulty breathing
  • Eye ulcers

There is no cure for Cat flu but with veterinary treatment, cats can recover from their symptoms within a few weeks. Unfortunately, once a cat has been infected with cat flu, they can become a carrier and potentially infectious to other cats. Some Cat flu carriers will never have symptoms whereas others can suffer with a flare up throughout their life, especially when they are stressed or unwell. Some cats can have symptoms all the time, ‘chronic rhinitis’ (a permanently runny nose), prolonged ‘gingivitis’ (inflammation of the mouth) and need to be on constant medication.

Vaccination is important to protect your cat against this illness to reduce the severity of symptoms and life-threatening complications. The cat flu vaccination is considered a "core" (essential for health) vaccine and is recommended for all domestic cats as even cats kept indoors can be infected from this disease.