Caring for a Cat with Herpes Virus
Reader Questions: Feline Herpes
Hi, my story and questions are about feline herpes. About 6 years ago I adopted (he adopted me actually) a beautiful, healthy, happy but unwanted 2 year old longhair oriental (male). I realized he was fragile from the moment he moved in because the very first night he stayed out all night he ended up at the vets on a drip with phenomena.
He is pure white with one blue/one green eye and I believe, far too over bread to be treated like a normal cat but that is what he wanted - in his mind he is a big ginger tom who can roam the streets and stay out.
I managed his needs for a long time but over the years he developed kidney failure (more drips at vets) and a very nasty trachea problem - it collapsed. These problems I also managed. He is on Fortakor for kidneys and his collapsed trachea means he is constantly on oral streroids - smallest dose possible. He would also be on antibiotics quite often for urinary tract infections and respiratory infections. All of this meant that his flu vaccinations slipped - the vet never thought him well enough to have them. Last year his companion cat died (18 years old) and I was grief stricken.
Almost immediately I started my search for a replacement rescue cat. I found one quite quickly - a small black and white female, about 6 months old and took her home to meet her new friend. I had asked about her vaccinations and was told she had had them although I never saw the paperwork - and there my biggest regret lies. You can guess what happened - within 3 days my male cat was so ill I didn't know what to do. Constant back and forth to the vets, nursing him 24/7, holding him, feeding him anything he would eat, giving him water with a pippet- I really thought he was going to die, I still weep at the thought. He was diagnosed with the herpes virus and I have never got my fearless, happy go lucky cat back. He is half the cat he used to be.
In the summer he now gets bad hay fever and has to have 2
Pritton a day to keep symptoms at bay. He is also still on the kidney medications and the steroids. He has suffered with bad eye infections and respiratory problems and recently he is having trouble breathing plus the old symptoms of sneezing, runny nose and red eyes (it is not summer at the moment so not hay fever). The vet just put this down to his virus.
My questions are - should I rush him to the vet every time he has a runny nose (at the moment it is clear liquid from eyes and nose) and what, if anything can I do to boost his immune system and make him feel generally better? I do not let him out at night but he gets so depressed that I don't know what to do, he poos anywhere but the litter tray at night to protest and that now means he can't sleep in the bedroom with me which depresses him even more.
I really hope you can help.
Many thanks.Suggestions from our Veterinarian When Caring for a Cat with a Herpes Virus Infection
I am so sorry to hear about what you and your beloved kitty have been going through. Herpes virus infections
are chronic, meaning that once the virus is in the body it is always there. Some individuals are able to hold the virus at bay so symptoms rarely if ever develop, other cats are not so lucky. Unfortunately it sounds like your cat falls into this latter category.
In these cases, it is important to do everything possible to support the immune system. This includes reducing stress (maybe letting him go outside is the lesser of two evils?), providing excellent nutrition (a high-quality canned food is probably best), and trying to prevent exposure to other diseases (this is where the decision to let him go outside gets tricky). Nutritional supplements designed for immune support might also be helpful.
As long as your cat only has clear discharge from the eyes and nose and otherwise seems to feel okay (eating and active as is normal for him at this point), you do not need to run to the veterinary clinic. If, however, his condition declines, an exam would be in his best interests.
Best of luck,
Jennifer Coates, DVM