We said last week that, in addition to a few other infectious agents, two virus groups are primarily involved in this Respi-ratory Disease Complex that affects cats.

It is quite immaterial which virus afflicts the animal, since the symptoms are pretty much the same. In any case, no general practitioner of the veterinary medical profession would have the capability to diagnose which virus it is that is making the cat sick. So, he/she would logically be treating the symptoms. Also, as we have mentioned previously, medical science has not progressed so significantly that we have many anti-virus drugs in our arsenal. Antibiotics do not kill viruses.

Now, the symptoms of Feline Influenza can exhibit themselves in various ways and with varying degrees of severity. In some affected cats, the expression of the malady is hardly noticeable. On the other hand, the disease could be forceful and the symptoms are then severe, leading often to death.

The acute infection
Last week, we mentioned how the disease was transmitted (usually via the air, especially when the animal sneezes), and what the clinical signs could be. The symptoms may go through an entire process lasting weeks. Firstly, they are mild, then they become severe. The mild symptoms begin with a clear fluid being discharged from the nostrils and eyes. This is accompanied by sneezing. Usually, an increased body temperature is also present. So you see why people call it ‘Cat Flu’ – which is a misnomer, because cats don’t catch colds or have influenza.

Later, the eye and nose secretions become thicker. As the animal is weakened, other germs (especially bacteria) have a good chance at invading the respiratory system. The discharge becomes yellow and sticky (pus).

At just about this time, the oral cavity may show signs of tissue loss (erosion of the lining of the mouth). Obviously, the cat will not want to eat or drink if it is suffering from such lesions.

Whenever the ulceration in the mouth occurs, there is a lot of drooling and strings of slime hang from the corners of the mouth.

In more advanced stages of the disease, the cat/kitten can go blind, partially or totally, because of all the viral attacks on the eye and the consequential ulceration on the eyeball. When all these symptoms exhibit themselves, things begin to look bleak for the cat. By now, the ailing animal should have been in the care of your vet.

At this stage, the viruses are being shed in large numbers and other cats in the vicinity can be infected. As much as is possible, the sick cat must be isolated. I have mentioned before that humans can’t catch ‘Feline Influenza.’

Next week, we’ll deal with the treatment and prevention of this killer disease.

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.

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