One of the most common conditions that our cats have is upper respiratory disease. The usual etiology is a virus. The most common URT virus is Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis which is a herpes virus. This virus is said to be ubiquitous in the feline population and has been estimated that close to 80% of cats harbor this virus. Humans have a similar herpes virus that usually manifests as a cold sore or fever blister. Although the human and cat herpes virus is very species specific, they can share some similarities. Just as stress can cause people to break out with fever blisters, stress is typically implicated in leading to a break out with cold-like symptoms in the cat. Once a cat contracts the FVR virus, either from the mother or just casual contact with an infected cat, the virus lives in the nerves of the face and recrudesces during periods of stress. This virus will persist for life. Although this is a virus, secondary bacterial infections can occur which warrant appropriate antibiotic therapy. Occasional steroid therapy may be necessary to help with excess congestion.
Vaccine therapy is designed to reduce the risk of disease that upper respiratory viruses can lead to. The vaccine includes the FVR virus as well as several other viruses. We recommend this vaccine for every cat that live in either indoors or outdoors. Those cats that have recurrent upper respiratory disease should receive the vaccine in attempts to lessen the course as well as suppress the virus. The virus typically runs its course within 7-10 days.