Feline herpes is ones of the most common viruses found in pet cats. Because it is highly contagious and the symptoms can appear the same as those of a bad cold, some owners may not realize they have a feline herpes outbreak on their hands until it is too late.
Feline herpes virus type 1 (FHV-1) is the most common type of herpes virus found in cats. It is highly contagious and can move from cat to cat through direct contact as well as by sharing contaminated litter boxes, food dishes and toys.
FHV-1 causes respiratory symptoms in infected animals, which include sneezing, runny nose, inflammation of the nose and also inflammation of the lining of the eyelids and runny eyes. Infected cats can also suffer from coughing, fever, loss of appetite and sneezing fits.
Feline herpes comes from multiple causes, including being born to an infected mother cat or nursing from an infected mother cat. Cats living in multiple cat homes where feeding and cleaning are not handled regularly or properly are at risk of catching the disease, as are cats that have not being vaccinated against it. The best way to prevent FHV-1 is to vaccinate your cat.
Home treatments for feline herpes begin with minimizing stress situations and also include force feeding if necessary, providing lots of liquids, cleaning the nose and eyes and raising humidity levels to break up mucus deposits. Vet care treatments may have to start with intravenous feeding or feeding through a tube and then move into prescribing antibiotics such as eye ointments, decongestants and oral antibiotics.
Though you can treat the symptoms of feline herpes, it is a virus that can never be fully cured. Symptoms can return throughout the lifetime of the infected cat. However, it is possible to help stop the spread of this virus between cats by giving infected animals L-lysine treatments that can keep it from replicating and passing on to new hosts.
FHV-1 can cause death if left untreated or caught too late into the cycle of the virus. This can happen with young kittens or in older cats who stop eating because of the disease or catch other infections and diseases because of a weakened immune system.