Viruses – they are a risk to felines too, not just humans

Our beloved felines and canines aren’t just comfort pets or decorative items. They are beloved members of one’s family, and most importantly, living beings. Like all living beings, they are prone to various illnesses including bacterial and viral infections and genetic conditions. 

However, like any pet owner knows, searching up a pet’s symptoms online is quite terrifying. Simply with the overwhelming amount of medical terms, anyone can get health anxiety (an actual condition caused by excessive worry about being sick), before knowing the full story.

In this article, we will be seeing a brief outline of feline viruses (sorry dog owners!). Please keep in mind that the article cannot provide a diagnosis for your pet, only a vet can. 

Feline Panleukopenia Virus (FPV)

First off, we have Feline Panleukopenia Virus or FPV, a parvovirus. It causes what is commonly known as distemper and Feline Infectious Enteritis (FIE). Since there are so many names for it, it can be confusing for any pet parent to get information. It should be noted that this virus is very hard to get rid of, but it is necessary to maintain a clean area. To clean an infected area, most websites recommend diluted bleach (1 part bleach and 30 parts water).

How does infection occur? Infection occurs when a cat comes in contact with infected faeces. 

Is it fatal? The mortality rate for this virus is very high. 

Which cats are most vulnerable? Kittens and unvaccinated cats due to their weaker immune system. 

Is it contagious? Yes, it is. Do keep separate litter boxes for infected cats.

How do you diagnose it? A test for FPV can be done at the vet in 15 to 20 minutes.

Is there a prevention or cure? Currently, there is no cure for it. Vaccination is available.

Feline Coronavirus (FCoV)

Next off we have Feline CoronaVirus (FCoV) or Feline Enteric Coronavirus (FECV). It is highly asymptomatic, which means that infected cats often don’t display symptoms. However, a commonly reported symptom is diarrhoea. It is simply a different species from the virus responsible for COVID-19 that we humans get. Don’t worry, humans can’t get infected by this virus! 

How does infection occur? Infection occurs when a cat comes in contact with infected faeces. 

Is it fatal? No, but once it mutates to FIP it can be dangerous. 

Which cats are most vulnerable? Any cats, especially kittens.

Is it contagious: Yes, it is. 

How do you diagnose it? A test for it can be done at the vet using the faeces of the cat. 

Is there a prevention or cure? Currently, there is no cure nor vaccination for it.

Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP)

In Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP), the virus is a mutated version of FCoV. However, only 1.5% of those infected with the virus end up with FIP. This pathogen is especially risky in multi-cat households. There are two forms of the infection: the wet form and the dry form.

In both forms, cats can be tired and lack an appetite. Antibiotics will not work on fevers. The wet form results in fluid accumulation in the lungs and/or abdomen. In the dry form, there will be severe inflammation and damage in organs. 

How does infection occur? It is a mutation developed by cats infected with FCoV.

Is it fatal? Yes, it has a very high mortality rate.

Which cats are most vulnerable? Cats who have FCoV, especially those with shared litter boxes, and older cats. 

Is it contagious? Yes, it is. 

How do you diagnose it? A test for it can be done at the vet using the faeces of the cat. 

Is there a prevention or cure? Currently, there is no cure nor vaccination for it.

We hope this article is valuable for any feline lovers and owners. The most important part of preventing some viral infections is vaccination. All kittens need their vaccinations once they’ve reached nine weeks old and their boosters at 3 months. Yearly boosters are essential to ensure their immunity. 

Written by Graciely O’Hara in memory of Princess, Lobo and Kiki