Feline Rhinotracheitis

Feline rhinotracheitis is an infectious disease in cats caused by the feline herpesvirus (FHV-1). It’s highly contagious and can affect both indoor and outdoor cats. The primary symptoms of this condition include fever, sneezing, watery eyes, coughing and nasal discharge. In some cases, secondary infections such as conjunctivitis can occur as a result of the virus.

Infected cats could develop respiratory distress as the virus damages their airway tissue. Furthermore, this virus can cause ulceration of the nasal and ocular (eye) membranes, leading to scarring and chronic inflammation. In severe cases, FHV-1 can lead to death due to respiratory failure.

The primary means of transmission is direct contact between cats, however the virus can also be spread through the saliva and nasal secretions of an infected cat. Because it’s so easy to spread, it’s important to isolate any cats that have been exposed to a known infected cat.

It’s important to note that cats can remain carriers of this virus, even after they have recovered from a primary infection. Cats that are carriers can still spread the virus to other cats and might need additional treatment or medication to reduce the risk of relapse.

Symptoms of Feline Rhinotracheitis

  • Fever
  • Sneezing
  • Watery eyes
  • Coughing
  • Nasal discharge
  • Respiratory distress
  • Ulceration of the nasal and ocular membranes

Diagnosing Feline Rhinotracheitis

Diagnosing Feline Rhinotracheitis is typically done through a physical examination and a series of laboratory tests. Your veterinarian will likely take swabs from the nose, eyes, and throat of your cat to collect samples for testing. In some cases, x-rays could be taken to evaluate the condition of your cat’s lungs. Blood tests can also be used to look for signs of infection.

Stage of Feline Rhinotracheitis

Feline Rhinotracheitis is generally split into three stages: acute, subacute, and chronic.

Stage 1

The acute stage is typically the most severe and occurs shortly after infection. Symptoms during this phase include high fever, sneezing, coughing, nasal discharge, watery eyes, and respiratory distress. In some cases, secondary infections can also occur.

Stage 2

The subacute stage occurs after the acute phase has passed and symptoms have begun to improve. During this phase, cats will develop chronic inflammation of the respiratory tract and nasal passages due to scarring caused by the virus.

Stage 3

The chronic stage is typically seen in cats that have been repeatedly exposed or re-infected with FHV-1. These cats will have persistent mild to severe symptoms, such as chronic nasal discharge and sneezing. They can also have difficulty breathing due to scarring of the respiratory tract and airway.

Treating Feline Rhinotracheitis

Treating feline rhinotracheitis will depend on the severity of your cat’s symptoms. In mild cases, supportive care might be enough to manage their symptoms and prevent the spread of the virus. This can include antiviral medications, antibiotics, and/or nutritional support. Your veterinarian might also recommend environmental controls to help reduce stress and improve your cat’s quality of life.

Preventing Feline Rhinotracheitis

The best way to prevent Feline Rhinotracheitis is to have your cat vaccinated against the virus. Vaccination can help protect your cat from infection and reduce the risk of relapse if they are exposed. It’s important to practice good hygiene when handling cats that could be infected with FHV-1. This includes washing your hands after touching an infected cat and avoiding contact with any cats that have been exposed.