This article is intended to offer general information regarding feline herpes (FHV1) and its complications ie: calicivirus, chlamydiosis, etc.
Do not apply any therapy to your animal without consulting with your Vet first!
Feline viral infection is common, esp. in multiple cat situations. It can be passed on from Queen to her litter as well as from cat to cat in a colony or boarding situation. As a professional, I handle numerous animals and I wash my hands after each client and I change clothes when I get home, as both virus and bacteria can live on hands and clothing for some time.
An infected cat will exibit symptoms such as sneezing, watery eyes, lethargy, coughing, diminished appetite. Typically the viruses' symptoms include sneezing a clear liquid, and/or clear watery discharge from eyes (eye squinting). I emphasise "clear" because this is caused by virus as opposed to yellowish thick mucus from nose/eyes which usually indicates bacteria. That said, I have experienced clear discharge that was bacterial, but not as often. Bacterial symptoms will also include lethargy, and diminished eatting .Keep in mind bacteria lives in the nose naturally, but when kitty's immune system is compromised by the virus, the bacterial growth gets out of hand and infection an set in. Both types of infections typically will have an incubation period of about 10-14 days.With a Viral outbreak, kitty may appear fine in the evening and sick the following morning....with bacteria you will probably experience kitty feeling increasingly ill over days.
It is important to note that cats must eat! Without eatting, Fatty Liver disease can occur in as little as 24 hrs, esp. with heavy cats.
Vaccines are effective, however many parents choose not to vaccinate their indoor cats as the exposure to virus is extrememly limited. Of course, they may be exposed during a routine Vet visit or grooming. I never vaccinated my kitties beyond first Booster shots until I chose to begin a feral colony in our Grove and adopt one of the kittens....and my kitties caught the virus. Of course we had a "snap" test done on the feral kitten which checks for FHV -1 and FIV.....but unfortunately not for Calicivirus. I have vaccinated my cats after they had become infected as some support the vaccine as a therapy intended to reduce the severity and length of an outbreak. Outbreaks are usually brought on by community stress such as parents' travel, new sybling, moving, etc.
There is no cure for any of the Viruses. There are antibiotics for the secondary bacterial infections that more than likely will occur. I have experience with most of the chosen therapies, including humidified air (hot shower), and daily L-Lysine HCI. They are good for support care, but in my experience many cats succumb to the secondary disease and need conventional antibiotics.
Antibiotics come in oral and liquid. The oral is systemic, meaning it will travel throughout the entire bloodstream and be filtered by the liver. The liquids include drops that are put into the eyes and/or nostrils, usualy twice a day. These are a topical treatment, absorbed by the tissue. Yes it does go down the throat but is not considered as a systemic therapy. These drops include GENTAMICIN/Gentocin, and Neomycin and Polymyxin ( these contain steriods). Ointments include Terramycin and Vetropolycin (this contains steriods).
The primary disease, the virus, can also be addresed although as mentioned above, not cured. Antiviral drops such as VIROPTIC/trifluridine(generic) work but are not guaranteed.
Typically, a combination of several is needed. I have found that L-LYSINE HCI is efective, as it is an amino acid the denies the virus what is needed for it to multiply. The usual dose is 500mg-1000 daily. This can be given 500mg BID (2x daily) or 1000mg once daily. Watch for stomach upset esp. in kittens and older animals. If your kitty is on medication and being treated by Vet....PLEASE consult with your Vet prior to giving any supplement.
Very importantly, support care is CRUCIAL!
Your cat needs to be in a calm, comfortable, subtly lit enviornment and food/water consumption needs to be watched.....hand feeding is encouraged. If kitty is not eatting it is cause for concern due to fatty liver disease (as mentioned above) and if kitty isnt drinking, fluids need to be given either by IV or Sub Q administration as dehydration is serious. Besides if kitty is dehydrated he/she doesnt feel very well, which causes stress which in turn exacerbates the outbreak.
Finally, TLC is so important.....kitty takes great comfort in you being there.