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Upper Respiratory Infection

 
CRC articles are not medical advice and should not be relied upon to diagnose any medical issue. Please see a veterinarian for any unusual behavior or medical observations.

Upper Respiratory Infections (URI) are the most common health concern for cats in shelters. You know it when you see it Ė runny nose and eyes, mouth breathing, low or no energy, lack of appetite. It is usually compared to colds in day care because it is highly contagious, especially for kittens and cats with impaired immune systems, and should be taken very seriously.

The cat will be infected with one or more of: herpes virus (rhinotracheitis) or calicivirus or chlamydia bacteria (not the same as the human STD). Often URI requires treatments of antibiotics, oral and ophthalmologic.

URI is transmitted through body fluid. The viruses, if not completely and properly cleaned, can live for 10 or more days. Cats can become carriers and shed the viruses.

There are especially virulent strains of calicivirus (VS-FCV) that can be deadly even in adult cats. The common FVRCP vaccination will help build a catís immune system, but it is not an guarantee against URI. However, with proper nutrition and no stress, cats can handle some exposure.

Links with further information:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feline_calicivirus
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feline_herpes
http://cats.about.com/cs/healthissues/a/uris_in_cats.htm