Ailments associated with the respiratory tract are pretty common – and understandably so. The upper respiratory passages contain a lot of bacteria and other infectious agents. With every breath of air comes a new horde of germs. Many of these germs will reside in the nasal passages and in the other organs leading to the lungs. It is not surprising, therefore, that the linings of these organs can, in the first instance, submit to the invasion of bacterial germs (I love the relevant technical phrase: ‘The mucous membranes can be compromised in their integrity’), thus paving the way for serious viral attack.
Of course, the bacteria and viruses (and even fungi) can continue living in these mucosal linings, even while the animal is recovering (reconvalescing) from the disease. In fact, sometimes the animal would have a relapse, if certain stress conditions emerge to weaken the cat.
We will deal specifically with the complex of viral diseases which result in respiratory distress (and even death). These viral diseases are highly contagious and make cats very ill. In one household, every cat can be contaminated from the one cat that contracted the disease first.
It is interesting to note that young and adult (and even elderly) cats can succumb to the causative agents of this respiratory disease complex. However, our own empirical observation and experience underline the fact that young cats contract ‘Feline Influenza’ (‘FI’) much more often than adult and old cats.
Please note that although I am calling this ailment Feline Influenza, it really has nothing to do with the true influenza virus. The main culprits associated with FI are (1) the Feline Rhinotracheitis Virus (FRV), which belongs to the Herpes virus group (but which has nothing to do with a Herpes infection), and (2) the Feline Calici Virus (FCV).
The names of these viruses may be as meaningless to you as they are unimportant to me, within the context of this article. For, as you will see, the symptomology and treatment are very similar. (The publication of these valueless, tongue-twisting terminologies is therefore only done to impress you with my erudition!).
Generally speaking, the Feline Viral Respiratory Disease Complex would incorporate ailments which have the following common symptoms:
(ii) increased lacrimation (tears),
(iii) increased salivation, and,
(iv) high fevers
As the first paragraph would suggest, the natural transmission of the infectious viruses is via aerosol droplets, especially when the infected animal sneezes.
The FRV and the FCV hit only cats and will not make humans ill.
Next week, we’ll deal with the specifics of Feline Influenza.
See you at the 2nd Annual Novelty Pet Show at Red House on November 8, 2008 at 2pm.
Please implement disease preventative measures (vaccinations, routine dewormings, monthly anti-heartworm medication, etc) and adopt-a-pet from the GSPCA’s Animal Clinic and Shelter at Robb Street and Orange Walk, if you have the wherewithal to care well for the animals. Do not stray your unwanted pets, take them to the GSPCA’s Clinic and Shelter instead. If you see anyone being cruel to an animal, or if you need any technical information, please get in touch with the Clinic and Shelter by calling 226-4237.