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Cat Flu Cases on the Rise

Just like dogs and humans, felines can contract the cat flu and end up with common symptoms. Most cats who get feline influenza will end up with a sore throat, sniffles and watery eyes. They many also develop mild lethargy and aching muscles. In severe cases of cat flu, pets can run a high fever and become dehydrated or severely lethargic. If your cat becomes very ill, be sure to contact a veterinarian.

Cat Flu Symptoms Can Lead to Eye Damage

One symptom of feline influenza that is specific to cats (rather than dogs or humans) is the incidence of eye ulcers, particularly in older cats, kittens and any with a compromised immune system. In severe cases, it can lead to complications that will mean loss of the eye. Any time a cat has an inflamed or irritated eye, you should get veterinary care immediately to prevent potential loss of vision.

Feline Influenza is Highly Contagious

Because it is highly contagious, it’s best to isolate your cat from other pets while she is sick and for at least three weeks after she has recovered. It can be difficult to prevent transmission of the illness from one feline to another, however, because many cats are carriers of the feline influenza even if they never show the symptoms of the virus. Because the virus can live for up to a week on surfaces, it can infect other cats through infected toys, clothing and food bowls.

Treating Cat Flu

Because cat flu is viral, there aren’t currently any effective treatments other than plenty of fluids and lots of rest. In many cases, however, your pet can develop a secondary, bacterial infection that could lead to pneumonia.

If your cat contracts the flu, be sure to watch for symptoms such as a nose that is blocked with mucus or mouth ulcers that prevent her from eating properly or getting enough water. If this happens, offer your cat soft, smelly foods such as chicken or sardines to tempt her to eat. You may also mash up her regular cat food with water to create a paste that will be soothing to her throat. If her eyes become crusty or she has discharge from her eyes, carefully bathe them with a bit of saline solution or saltwater.

If symptoms become severe, contact your cat’s veterinarian for advice on what to do to make your pet more comfortable and prevent the spread of the cat flu to other felines. It is difficult to prevent the cat flu from spreading because it is often transmitted by carrier animals with no symptoms. There is a cat vaccine for two strains of cat flu, but it won’t work for every strain of the virus. If you’re going to be boarding your cat or she will be visiting with other cats, it is advisable to get your pet vaccinated so that she has at least partial protection.

For more information about the feline influenza, visit the VetWest website.

Do you also have dogs? Then check out our article on the Canine Flu.

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