When it comes to your cat's necessary and optional vaccines, chances are you already know that they're important for protecting your cat against diseases that wild animals and feral cats may carry. However, one of these vaccines is especially important for kittens and adult cats alike, as it can protect them from contracting a viral infection called feline viral rhinotracheitis. This virus bears many similarities to the common cold, but can cause severe illness for cats, or even death for kittens.
Feline viral rhinotracheitis, or FVR, is a viral disease that can be contracted by cats of any age. The illness bears a strong resemblance to severe sinus infections in humans, and causes discharge from the eyes, nose, and sometimes ears. While this disease isn't communicable through the air, and humans can't catch it, direct contact between a healthy cat and an infected cat carries a very strong chance of infecting the healthy cat.
Effect on Kittens
The effect of FVR on kittens is horrifying: somewhere between 50 to 60% of infected kittens will die. The FVR virus compromises their immune systems and makes it difficult to breathe, as it causes inflammation and swelling in the lungs and sinuses. Sinuses often deal a second blow as nasal discharge may solidify in the nostrils, blocking air flow. Lastly, kittens' eyes may swell shut and become sealed due to discharge, leaving them temporarily blind and fearful of their surroundings.
Effect on All Cats
Adult cats are far less likely to die from the disease, but they aren't left unscathed by it. In addition to experiencing all the same symptoms as kittens, adult cats can potentially become carriers for FVR. This means that over the course of years, they can not only infect other cats, but be subject to recurring symptoms over and over again. Without treatment, the virus may never permanently go away on its own. Unfortunately, this means that any adult cat who has ever had the disease could be a potential threat to a new kitten, even if the adult cat seems to be healthy.
The only way to be sure that your cat is protected from this disease and won't infect others is to give them the FVR or FVRCP vaccinations. Both vaccines include a vaccine to protect your cat from the FVR virus, but the FVRCP virus also protects against feline distemper, and feline calicivirus, another form of upper respiratory infection. Kittens can safely receive this vaccine at 14 weeks old; any younger, and their antibodies may interfere with the vaccine. If you're considering adopting a kitten, having it vaccinated before it ever comes in contact with your cat is advised.
Feline viral rhinotracheitis may sound like a simple case of an upper respiratory viral infection, but it can be extremely dangerous for kittens and adult cats alike. If your cat has never received this vaccine, make sure you get them vaccinated right away at a clinic like Cherokee Hospital for Animals.