If the cat sneezes, for example, because the nose is itchy, it is initially a funny noise. But be careful: If the cat has an increasing cold and discharge from the eyes and nose, it is very likely that there is a serious illness behind it. The unspecific term “cat flu” seems far too harmless for a potentially fatal course of the disease. It summarizes colloquial medical and much more specific diagnoses such as feline pneumonia, feline rhinitis, or, for international communication, “cat flu” or Furd (“feline upper respiratory disease”).
When the cat sneezes: research into the causes
Cat flu describes, initially quite unspecifically, various diseases of the respiratory tract and mucous membranes in the head area of the cat. The individual manifestations of cat flu are triggered by viruses, bacteria, and occasionally both at the same time and are infectious. Cats can become infected through contact with each other, but droplet or smear infection via food, objects and even humans as intermediate carriers is also possible. The pathogens are usually spread via bodily fluids: When the cat sneezes or salivates, the finest secretion is sprayed in which the viruses and bacteria can survive for a while without a host. Cats are at high risk of becoming infected, so if you get sick with cat flu, you should see your vet immediately. This happens completely stress-free and in a familiar environment at home with Dr. food bowl. The vet team is here online for you and your cat. Veterinarians will assess your pet’s health and recommend treatment options.
Important to know: Viral cat flu cannot be transmitted from animals to humans as a zoonosis, with bacterial forms such as chlamydiosis and Bordetella infections there is a certain interspecies risk of infection. The most careful hygiene measures must be observed. The exact diagnosis of the pathogen can only be made by examinations in the laboratory. In detail, the germs cause different clinical pictures, which, however, have many overlapping symptoms. Regardless of the specific origin, one can speak of a characteristic clinical picture.
What are the symptoms of cat flu?
Cat flu hits the cat in the head: the eyes, the mucous membranes of the nose and throat, and the respiratory tract up to the lungs are affected. The disease breaks out about five days after infection and initially manifests itself as general malaise. The first signs are fever, reduced appetite, cough, and runny nose, sometimes there is also vomiting. In rare cases, however, these accompanying symptoms may not occur. Typical clinical symptoms are sometimes purulent discharge from the nose and eyes, conjunctivitis, corneal damage, swelling of the lymph nodes, ulcers, or blisters on the tongue and mucous membranes. In severe cases, necrosis of the nasal mucosa and miscarriage in pregnant cats can occur. If the cat cold spreads to the respiratory tract, breathing difficulties, rattling breathing noises, respiratory infections through to pneumonia and nasal catarrh express themselves.
How to treat cat flu?
The best help against cat flu is prevention: There are appropriate vaccinations against herpes and caliciviruses, which can trigger cat flu. The kitten should receive such vaccinations in the first few weeks of life, and the vaccination protection must then be refreshed at regular intervals. In the meantime, drugs are also in use that act prophylactically against bacterial infections.
If the cat is already ill, the veterinarian will initiate therapy with broad-spectrum antibiotics, antiviral proteins that stimulate the immune system, and, if necessary, locally applied bacteriostatic drugs. These inhibit the spread of viruses and bacteria and thus the effects of the disease. In order to be able to determine a medication, the vet takes a blood sample and swabs from the tongue, eyes, and conjunctiva to determine the pathogen and to rule out diseases with similar pathological characteristics, such as allergies or asthma.
In order to relieve the animal’s respiratory problems in addition to the medicinal measures, you can try letting it inhale appropriate essential oils, for example, chamomile oil. Nursing also includes carefully cleaning up discharge and keeping your nose and eyes clean. If the animal shows a lack of appetite, try to motivate it to eat with particularly desirable foods. If the animal has difficulty swallowing due to inflammation in the mouth and throat, offer feed that is as soft as possible. If water is refused, try feeding with a bottle: the cat is thirsty, but swallowing is painful. If due to delayed treatment, the disease has progressed so far that the cat can no longer eat and drink on its own, artificial nutrition and infusions are necessary. Don’t let it get that far: detected and treated at an early stage, your house cat has a good chance of recovery.
Is vaccination against cat flu useful?
Feline chlamydiosis is particularly common in kittens: unvaccinated cats are often affected by cat flu, especially if they have close contact with other cats. Unfortunately, the mortality rate in such kittens is quite high. Strays are often contaminated with pathogens; In cat colonies, cat flu spreads like an epidemic. If it is not possible to have the animals vaccinated or examined, pay attention to hygiene in your own interest. The treatment of cat colds can be extremely time-consuming and, last but not least, expensive due to veterinary and drug costs. With comprehensive vaccination protection, you significantly reduce the risk of your cat becoming ill: good prevention pays off!