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Friday, June 9, 2023

My Cat and Feline Herpes Virus (FHV)

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Feline herpes virus clinically known as FHV is a viral infection caused by the feline herpesvirus type 1 (FHV-1).

It is a highly contagious virus that affects cats. This virus is one of the major causes of cat flu (medically known as Upper Respiratory Infections).

The virus is found anywhere and everywhere and just like malaria to man the virus affects all cat breed, shapes and colors. Alone the virus may not seem lethal but together with another disease can be deadly to the cat.

How can my cat contaminate FHV?

Cats are weakened by the virus and they may also develop secondary infections.  There are various common ways cats can contaminate FHV and they include.

  • Through direct contact with eye, nose and saliva discharges and secretions.
  • Our cat pets can also contaminate this virus when they share litter boxes and food/water bowls with already infected cats.
  • An infected pregnant cat may also pass the virus on to its unborn kittens and even through breastfeeding.
  • Mutual grooming among cats.
  • Because the virus is highly contagious, it is common in catteries, shelters and multi cat households.
  • Some cats infected with the feline herpes virus sometimes become dormant carriers of this virus and even without showing any symptoms when stressed can shed the virus, exhibiting mild symptom can swiftly transmit it to other cats.
  • Also, a contaminated environment can also be a danger zone for cats.

How do I know if my cat has FHV?

Diagnosis of FHV can be challenging and is often based on a combination of symptoms, health history and lab tests. Does it seem your cat has caught a cold?

This may be as a result of the FHV infection, many cats at a point in their lives are exposed to this virus and exhibit symptoms like frequent sneezing, eye and nasal discharge, pink eye (inflammation of the eyes), sores in and around the eyes, congestion, skin inflammation and ulceration, fever, loss of appetite, Squinting and drooling and also in some cases the cat shows signs of lethargy; showing sluggishness, slowness and lack of energy.

How long does FHV last?

Feline herpes viral infection signs vary from days to weeks as there is no exact duration of the virus in the cat but shedding of the virus may continue up to three weeks.

The virus survives for about two days in open air before dying off but virtually all feline (cats) are potential carriers as the virus inactively remains and persists in the nerve cells.  

How do I treat and manage The FHV for My cat?

If you observe some of the symptoms in your cat and it seems your pet has contracted the virus, take him immediately to the veterinary (Animal doctors) for proper diagnosis and examination.

Though the FHV cannot be completely wiped out from the cat’s system, however symptoms can be treated. Veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics and antiviral medications to help with the symptoms, eye drop, and eye cream can be used against the conjunctivitis and other eye irritations. With good intensive nursing and good nutrition, most cats will make successful recovery.

It is extremely important to note that cats developing any FHV symptoms should be placed under Veterinary supervision. Brief examination will great help to determine if the feline requires medication, is dehydrated or has a fever.

Just sneezing but otherwise acting normal may not call for a cause of alarm and treatment may likely not be needed. However, if the cat starts having nose discharges and sore eyes or loss of appetite and weight, there is evidence of a possible secondary bacteria infection likely to be linked to FHV and antibiotics may be necessary.

Also, certain anti-viral drugs are available and can be of great help in managing the viral infection, they include:

  • Famciclovir
  • Topical eye drops like idoxuridine, trifluridine and cidofovir

How can I prevent further FHV infection?

Vaccination of cats against FHV is the most vital ways of combating the virus and it is important for all cats. Vaccination does not actually prevent infection of FHV, but it will greatly reduce the severity of the disease.

Two or three injections are recommended for kittens, starting at around eight weeks of age, a booster is received at the completion of one year and further booster vaccines is administered every one to three years.

These vaccines are to be administered by the veterinarian or under his/her supervision. Please do not administer any medication to your cat unless you have discussed it with your animal doctor. 

Further contamination can be prevented by disinfecting the environment as effective disinfectant kills the virus. 

Me, My cat and FHV

 As a feline owner, you should give proper attention to your cat if he is infected and not be afraid of contacting it yourself as NO human or dog can catch feline herpes neither can cats catch any strain of herpes that humans carry.

You can make your cat feel better when it’s going through the FHV phase by:

  • Making sure your cat is eating regularly and drinking water.
  • Creating a clean, calm, restful home for your cat.
  • Frequently cleaning the discharges from the eyes and nose with a clean and disinfected cloth.
  • A humidifier in the cat’s environment or time in a steamy bathroom can help the nasal congestion.


In conclusion, Feline Herpes Virus (FHV), if not paid attention to can be very deadly to your cats and thus strict caution should be taken and felines should be observed regularly and visitations to the vent should be made on monthly intervals for “to be fore warned is to be fore armed. ”Old Cats and New cats showing symptoms should be kept isolated from healthy cats in the house. All water and food bowls and litter boxes should be cleaned regularly.

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