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How to spot calicivirus in cats

Feline calicivirus (FCV) is a common respiratory disease in cats.

The virus attacks the respiratory tract, mouth – with ulceration of the tongue, the intestines and the musculoskeletal system. Calicivirus is highly contagious to other unvaccinated cats.

Cats typically catch FCV after coming into contact with other infected cats. Calicivirus is resistant to some disinfectants, so cats can come into contact with the virus in almost any environment. Cats without vaccinations are at higher risk, as are those with a lower immune system due to pre-existing infections or diseases.

What are the signs of FCV?

If your cat has calicivirus, the following symptoms will typically present themselves suddenly:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Eye discharge
  • Nasal discharge
  • Development of ulcers on tongue, hard palate, tip of nose, lips or around claws
  • Pneumonia
  • Difficult breathing after development of pneumonia
  • Arthritis (inflammation of joints)
  • Lameness
  • Painful walk
  • Fever
  • Bleeding from various sites

How is calicivirus treated?

Your cat will be hospitalised for intensive care treatment – this may include broad spectrum antibiotics and possibly intravenous fluids.

It’s a good idea to discuss costs with your vet before starting any treatment.

How do I stop my cat getting FCV?

An FCV vaccination is the best preventative treatment for your cat. It may also reduce the symptoms should your cat become infected with calicivirus.

If you’re thinking of adopting a pet with calicivirus

Make sure you review the clinical history of your new pet and ask for more details on how the condition has been treated. You’ll need to sign a disclaimer to confirm you’ve been made aware of the condition. Any pet who’s had treatment is likely to have pet insurance exclusions, so it’s worth discussing potential on-going costs with your vet.

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