Last week, we dealt with the situation whereby feline respiratory distress comes on rapidly and with great severity (acute form). As was mentioned, if the symptoms are pronounced, then the cat will very likely die, especially if you waited too long to ensure professional intervention.
Nevertheless, many cats survive the viral onslaught. They recover pretty much totally, but could still have the virus hidden away in their bodies (carrier state). If the cat is placed under pressure (eg nutritional deficiency, surgery, pregnancy/lactation, other ailments, etc), then it can again exhibit Feline Flu symptoms. The symptoms are, however, much milder.
The bigger problem, of course, is that in this condition of being a virus carrier, the cat can shed that virus and infect other cats in close proximity. This we have often seen. In fact, even as I write, we are confronted with a particular case where the young cats in the household are all showing symptoms of Feline Viral Respiratory Disease, six months after the tomcat in the home contracted the ailment. He is a carrier and a shedder, I think. In such a situation, when a household has had a bout with Feline Flu, all other cats in the home should be vaccinated. This brings us to treatment and prevention.
Well, as always, when we are dealing with a viral disease, our focus must be on supporting the animal’s immune system and reducing/ eliminating the symptoms.
Since dehydration usually accompanies ‘Feline Flu,’ we must ensure that the cat gets lots of liquids – either orally or via drips.
Because there is often soreness in the throat, which results in pain when eating, only very soft, nutritious (high protein) food should be offered. I advise clients to make tiny fish balls and show them how to administer the food morsels. One could even use strained baby food, but that’s an expensive way to go about things.
Wipe the purulent discharge from the eyes and nostrils with any one of the many available eye lotions used by humans. We had mentioned that there is often nasal congestion association with ‘Feline Flu.’ Well, one can use commercial nasal spray decongestants that are available for children. This seems to help immensely.
The big support comes from vitamin/mineral supplements and antibiotics. You will recall that we mentioned that secondarily, bacteria invade the cat’s weakened and vulnerable respiratory tract. We therefore have to hammer these bacteria with antibiotics. Your vet will prescribe for you those antibiotics which are most efficacious in the circumstances.
Well we can’t cover the prevention aspect this week. So tune in again next week, same space, same paper, for another exciting episode in this drama of ‘Feline Flu.’
I should mention in passing that we veterinarians do not have at our disposal laboratory facilities that deal with viruses and virology. In any case, this particular disease could require several weeks of testing to determine whether a cat is a carrier of the disease. Preven-tion is therefore the answer.
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.