Most infectious upper respiratory diseases of cats are caused by two contagious viruses: Feline herpesvirus (also known as feline viral rhinotracheitis, or FHV-1), and feline calicivirus, or FCV. Both viruses cause similar symptoms in cats. A third organism, feline chlamydia, also causes upper respiratory infections.
Feline herpesvirus, the most common viral infection in cats, can cause sores to develop on the infected cat's mouth or nostrils; these closely resemble the human cold sore. All three of these diseases cause upper respiratory problems, including sneezing, runny nose, and eye infections.
Kittens, unvaccinated cats, and cats in multi-cat homes are at greatest risk and can contract one or more of these respiratory infections through contaminated material and from other cats. The diseases are occasionally fatal for kittens, although most cats do recover.
Feline viral rhinotracheitis and feline calicivirus (FHV-1 and FCV) vaccines are highly recommended for all cats, according to the report. A booster should be administered 1 year after the first vaccination, then once every three years - although, again, the currently available are labeled for annual revaccination. Research so far indicates that vaccine protection lasts at least three years. However, vaccines can only induce an immune response that lessens the severity of the disease - they do not offer complete immunity. In addition, the FCV vaccines that are currently available probably do not induce protection from all forms of the virus.
When it comes to feline chlamydia because the disease itself is not severe and most cats can be treated, and because the number of adverse events associated with the use of the vaccine is relatively high, routine vaccination is not recommended.
Excerpted from The K.I.S.S. Guide to Cat Care by Steve Duno
Copyright 2001 by Steve Duno.
Excerpted by permission of Dorling Kindersley Publishing Inc.
All rights reserved.
No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.