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What is Feline Herpes? Plus 7 Measures to Help Alleviate Feline Herpes

Feline Herpes, also known as feline viral rhinopneumonitis (FVR), rhinotracheitis virus and feline herpesvirus type 1 (FHV-1), is a virus that causes most upper respiratory infections in cats and can cause secondary infections. Feline Herpes can be prevented through the use of vaccines. Consult your veterinarian on what types of vaccines can be used to minimize the risk of your furry friend contracting this terrible virus.

Feline herpes is a highly contagious virus and can be contracted by coming in contact with an infected cat's nose, eyes or mouth. It can also be contracted by the use of the same equipment of an infected cat (e.g. food & water bowls, litter boxes, bedding). Since feline herpes is so highly contagious, it is commonly found in catteries, shelters, and multi-cat households.

If you suspect your pet may have contracted the feline herpes virus, consult your veterinarian immediately.

Feline herpes can be identified by any or all of the following symptoms:

  • Sneezing “attacks”
  • Discharge from the nose and eyes
  • Conjunctivitis or pink eye (inflammation of the eyelid)
  • Lesions in and around the eyes
  • Eye ulcers
  • Congestion
  • Fever
  • Depression
  • Loss of appetite
  • Drooling
  • Squinting
  • Lethargy

Unfortunately, when infected, most cats will never get rid of the virus. However, there are steps you can take to limit feline herpes flare-ups and make your cat more comfortable.

  1. Create a calm, restful home for your cat.
    Since the virus reactivates in times of stress, a low- or no-stress environment can be helpful in cutting down flare-ups. Cats can become stressed when changes to his (or your) daily routine occur, new visitors into his home, loud noises, unfamiliar animals, or moving. To create a safe haven for your cat, be sure to provide clean bedding, plenty of natural light, and access to safe hiding spots.
  2. Frequently clean his eyes and nose.
    Discharge from the eyes and nose can get crusty and uncomfortable. A clogged nasal could also cause your cat to stop eating. Be sure to clean his face regularly.
  3. Provide a humidifier for your cat's environment.
    The use of a humidifier or time in a steamy bathroom can help alleviate congestion.
  4. Make sure your cat is eating and drinking regularly.
    Feline herpes can cause a loss of appetite in your pet. Make sure all food and water bowls are clean and filled regularly.
  5. Trust your veterinarian.
    Think about it. If you go to the doctor or hospital, chances are that you will receive a prescription of medication in some form. Best practice would be to take the entire prescription as directed by your doctor to ensure that you are over your illness.
    Your furry feline friend is no different. Your veterinarian may prescribe oral antibiotics or antiviral medications to help alleviate symptoms of the herpes virus. Be sure to follow your veterinarian's directions to ensure that you are doing all that you can to help.
  6. Start treatment of an L-Lysine product.
    L-Lysine is a naturally-occurring amino acid that aids in keeping feline herpes flare-ups at a minimum. L-Lysine also helps promote good eye health.
  7. Give them lots of love.
    Remember when you were young and didn't feel well? Being held by mom or dad immediately made you feel a little better.
    Cats are the same. So be sure to love on them to let them know that you are there. And don't worry, humans can't contract the feline strand of herpes.

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