How to Prevent Feline Calicivirus (FCV) Infection

Here’s an article from our resident smart kitty Issac Newton about Feline Calicivirus (FCV). It’s a particularly nasty virus that is one of the leading causes of feline upper respiratory infections and can cause painful ulcers on the nose, eyes and mouth.


We’ve seen Colloidal Defense help cats get through a bout of Calicivirus much more quickly. If your cats have ever had Calicivirus it’s a good idea to put Colloidal Defense in either their food or water daily as a prevention.


To see just how nasty the painful oowies that accompany this disease can be, one of the links below has photos which show what can happen to a cat’s nose, mouth and eyes (there is a warning with the link). These are graphic and not suitable for children or sensitive adults. Fortunately, not every outbreak of Calicivirus is as dramatic as shown in these photos.


Newton’s Purrspective – Calicivirus

Because their immune systems are not well developed kittens everywhere are at high risk for the most common feline viral diseases (upper respiratory disease and distemper). The stress of living in a shelter makes them even more susceptible and the proximity of other cats almost guarantees that they will get sick. The most common causes of upper respiratory infections in cats and kittens are herpesvirus and calicivirus. I was once a shelter kitten and I am a calicivirus survivor.


Isaac Newton

Calicivirus is highly contagious and can be spread through direct contact with infectious secretions (did you know a cat sneeze can travel 9 feet?) or by exposure to objects that have been contaminated (dishes, bedding etc.). The virus can survive a week or more in the environment so a person can spread the virus simply by touching these objects before handling a cat. (http://www.vcahospitals.com/main/pet-health-information/article/animal-health/feline-calicivirus-infection/4132)

Typically the incubation period is 2-6 days. However, a cat may infect others even before the disease is apparent! Symptoms are variable and depend on the age of the cat as well as the presence of other viruses, such as herpesvirus or distemper. These include:

  • Limping due to tenderness in the joints or muscles (most common in kittens)
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Sneezing and Discharge from the eyes and nose
  • Ulcerations (pus-filled sores) inside the mouth or on the lips, or tip of the nose
  • Ulcerations on the toes and bottom of the feet

(http://www.healthcommunities.com/calicivirus/symptoms.shtml)

The ulcers are very painful so drooling or pawing at the mouth may indicate their presence before they are readily visible.

Vaccination against calicivirus does not provide immunity, but it can decrease the severity of symptoms. (http://www.sheltermedicine.com/node/38#vacswarning – graphic pictures on this page of nose, eye and mouth ulcers – not suitable for children or sensitive adults) Since upper respiratory diseases are viral support therapy is used until the body can fight off the illness. Cats are typically treated with antibiotics to prevent pneumonia and other secondary bacterial infections. In severe cases fluids may be required. Fortunately, my symptoms were not severe and I had a foster mom to take care of me away from the shelter.

Calicivirus can be very serious, especially in kittens. It is important to get veterinary help as soon as possible. Traditional vets will use oral antibiotics and fluid therapy for rehydration if needed. Antibiotic eye ointment may also be prescribed to prevent ulceration and possible blindness.

Homeopathic vets will offer different treatment options. These include vitamins, herbs and nutraceuticals (http://www.news-medical.net/health/What-are-Nutraceuticals.aspx) to help support the immune system. “Colloidal Defense”, in particular, can stimulate the immune system and speed healing. A vaporizer may ease breathing difficulties and appetite stimulants can help if the patient is reluctant to eat. (http://allnaturalpetcare.com/blog/2014/03/21/natural-treatment-feline-upper-respiratory-tract-infection/). A nosode (homeopathic vaccine) may also be recommended. (http://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/veterinary-nosodes/)

In all cases good nursing (e.g. cleaning discharge from eyes and nose, providing fresh food/water and a warm safe place to sleep) is essential.

Although calicivirus outbreaks are most common in crowded situations, such as shelters or catteries, an indoor cat at home can still get the disease. Hand washing is an important precaution both for humans and their kitties! In the case of known infections it is best not to visit homes with sick cats for at least 2-3 weeks after they have recovered. Caretakers of sick cats should not visit other homes with cats.

After I finished my antibiotics I went in for my final exam at the shelter. I felt pretty good, but the veterinarian said I was unadoptable! Why?!? Some cats become carriers after recovering from the disease. (http://www.sheltermedicine.com/node/38#disinfectwarning – graphic pictures on this page of nose, eye and mouth ulcers – not suitable for children or sensitive adults) This means they could still potentially infect others. The virus is most likely to become active under stressful situations. Fortunately for me, my foster mom was willing to take the risk. At home we have minimal stress thanks to “Multi Cat Household Harmony Flower Essences” and “Convivial House Cat” spray. We have all remained healthy since my adoption over 7 years ago.

You can see why my mom fell in love with me.


Baby Newton Jan 2008

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