If you have a cat you must have known about Feline Calicivirus. It is one of the most commonly found upper respiratory viral infections in cats and can cause severe disease. Fortunately, I was able to help my cat recover from the dangerous virus.
When I first noticed that my cat was not feeling well, I took him to the vet. The vet diagnosed my cat with Feline Calicivirus and told me that it is a highly contagious viral infection. He also told me that it is a very contagious and deadly virus so I have to take good care of my cat.
I was very worried about my cat but I did not give up. I did a lot of research on the internet and finally found some information that helped me treat my cat. But it was not easy to dig 100s of articles, websites and forums to find the right information. Most of the sites were just telling me the problems but not the solutions.
Here in this article, I will walk through all the things that I did to make sure my cat fights this virus and recover quickly.
But First Let’s quickly walk through what is Feline Calicivirus?
What is Feline Calicivirus?
Feline calicivirus (FCV) is a contagious and often deadly viral infection that causes severe respiratory disease in cats. It is one of the most common upper respiratory infections in cats and can be found in both indoor and outdoor cats. The virus is spread through close contact with infected cats, through the air, or on contaminated surfaces. It can also be spread through contact with infected people or animals.
Most cats that are infected with FCV will recover within two to three weeks. However, some cats can develop a severe form of the disease that can lead to pneumonia, liver failure, and death. There is no cure for FCV, but there are treatments that can help your cat recover from the disease.
How Calicivirus Spreads?
The virus is spread through close contact with infected cats, through the air, or on contaminated surfaces. It can also be spread through contact with infected people or animals.
The virus is highly contagious and can easily spread from one cat to another. It can also be spread through the air, or on contaminated surfaces. Once a cat is infected with FCV, the virus can live in its environment for 14-21 days. This means that an infected cat can spread the virus to other cats even if they are not showing any signs of illness.
Recognizing Calicivirus Symptoms / Clinical Symptoms
Most calicivirus infections are mild, and the symptoms are similar to those of other upper respiratory infections. However, because this virus can cause severe disease in some cats, it is important to have your cat examined by a veterinarian if you notice any of the following signs:
- Nasal congestion
- Discharge from the nose or eyes
- Ulcers on the tongue, hard palate, gums, lips, or nose
- Excessive drooling or salivation
- Low-Grade Fever
If your cat is showing any of these symptoms, it can be a sign of FCV. the discharge from the nose and eyes is watery and clear in colour, but in some cases, it can be yellow or green. One other main symptom is ulcers on the tongue and mouth, hard palate, lips and in some cases on the nose. These ulcers cause salivation and drooling in cats as these can be very painful. With these symptoms, upper respiratory infection also includes lethargy, low-grade fever, and loss of apatite.
In some strains of FCV cats usually develop sudden painful lameness in one or more joints. This is most common in kittens of 3-6 months but older cats of 7-12 months can also exhibit this symptom.
In severe or 3rd degree strains the calicivirus can develop some serious problems like high-grade fever (103 to 105), severe depression, jaundice, pneumonia, and edema of the face and/or legs. ulcers on feet, hair loss near ears and multiple organ diseases. This strain is highly infectious and many studies reported a death rate of up to 67% in cats.
Clinical signs of FCV infection Stages
- Acute upper respiratory infection – The most common form of FCV infection, characterized by a runny nose, watery eyes, and fever. This also includes ocular discharge, ulcers in mouth and tongue, conjunctivitis, low apatite, lethargy and low-grade fever. These signs may last from a few days to a few weeks.
- Gingivitis and stomatitis – In some severe cases, the virus can cause gingivitis and stomatitis, which are characterized by ulcers in the mouth, tongue, and gums. This can be very painful for your cat and can lead to weight loss and dehydration. FCV can also cause severe oral pain, drooling, and difficulty eating.
- Limping syndrome – In some cases, FCV can cause a condition called a limping syndrome, which is characterized by sudden lameness in one or more joints. Limping syndrome is most common in kittens 3-6 months old, but it can also occur in older cats.
Virulent systemic FCV infection – vsFCV – on rare cases, FCV can cause a severe and often fatal form of the disease, known as virulent systemic feline calicivirus (vsFCV). This form of the disease is characterized by high fevers, depression, jaundice, pneumonia, skin swelling and ulceration, edema of the face and/or legs, ulcers on the feet, hair loss near the ears, bleeding from the nose and intestine and multiple organ disease. Fortunately, vsFCV is very rare, but more than 50% of the cats with vsFCV may not survive.
But with proper medication and care this your cat can have a full recovery. Now as we have covered our basis, let’s talk about my cat’s journey towards recovery from this deadly virus.
How is a calicivirus infection treated?
Treatment for a calicivirus infection is typically supportive and focuses on relieving the symptoms. In most cases, cats will recover without any treatment within 2-3 weeks. However, some cats may require hospitalization for intensive supportive care, including IV fluids, antibiotics, and supplemental nutrition.
Here’s How I helped My Cat with FCV:
It, was not easy to help him during these days, because the only medication cannot help a cat suffering from FCV. Nutrition is as important as medicine because a cat needs their strength to fight the virus.
Here are some important things we did during his recovery period.
It all started with just lethargy, loss of apatite and constipation, I took my cat to the vet and he gave him some antibiotics. But after a couple of days, my cat’s condition worsened, he developed a high fever and lethargy. I called my vet again and he started his treatment with antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs.
But, with all treatments, he was not getting better, on 3rd day the ulcers developed in his mouth and tongue and was drooling excessively. This was the time when it was obvious that my cat has caught Calicivirus, and now he needs very good care. The vet continued his supportive treatment with antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs and also started him on a course of antiviral drugs.
With all the medication food is very important for the cat, because a good diet will help him to build his immunity and strength to fight the virus. I started feeding my cat wet food because it was easy for him to eat in his condition.
Our routine of food was one half-cooked egg yolk in the morning with 1 teaspoon of butter (this is his favourite food). Egg yolks are like supper food and are full of proteins and good fats. The next mean was 1 packet of jelly food, I was using Whiskas Fisherman’s Choice in Jelly twice a day.
During FCV some cats develop constipation as they are not moving around, for that I added boiled pumpkin to the diet or some laxatives to relieve constipation.
It is very important to keep a cat hydrated during FCV because dehydration can make the condition worse. I gave my cat plenty of water to drink and also fed him wet food, which helped to keep him hydrated. It was not easy because he was not drinking water on his own, so I had to syringe feed him to make sure he was getting enough fluids. I was feeding him chicken broth and milk too to keep him hydrated.
It is very important to give emotional support to a cat during FCV because the virus can cause a lot of stress and anxiety. I made sure to spend extra time with my cat and cuddle him as much as possible. I also talked to him in a soft voice and reassured him that he was going to be okay.
Journey to Complete Recovery from Deadly FCV
Now as we have covered all the important things I did, let us talk about our journey towards complete recovery from FCV.
Week 1 – 3
In the first week, my cat was very lethargic, he was not eating anything and could not get up. He constantly had a high-grade fever of 105* – 106*. We continued the antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs as prescribed by the vet to keep his fever in control and support his other conditions. In addition, we kept him hydrated and fed him food as I mentioned above.
In the next two weeks, he developed ulcers in his mouth, a runny nose fever with cough and congestion in the chest and symptoms like pneumonia. The congestion caused difficulty in breathing and he was very uncomfortable.
With these new developments, we Continued the prescribed medication with some additional home remedies.
How to Reduce Congestion and pneumonia symptoms?
We used a facial steamer to give my cat steam, we only used water and nothing else. We did this process for 10-15 minutes twice a day and it helped him recover fast from pneumonia. If you can give him steam in your bathroom that will be great because the bathroom has more space and your cat can move around.
Another thing we did was, we used saline water to clean his nose 3-4 times a day. This helped him to reduce the congestion in his chest and also made it easier for him to breathe.
Some other developments were loss of hair from behind his ears, swelling in the skin, and ulcers on his nose and tongue too. We were very worried at this stage because it looked like the virus was taking a toll on his health.
In the fourth week, my cat was still not eating on his own, so we continued to syringe feed him. But he was showing some improvements like he was able to get up and walk around. His fever was also under control and ulcers in his mouth were healing. We continued the medication as prescribed by the vet and also added some home remedies to help him recover faster.
But at this stage, he developed swelling in the joints of his back legs. It was so severe that he was not able to walk properly. So we took him to the vet and he was put on steroids for a week. This helped to reduce the swelling and pain in his joints.
In the fifth week his condition further improved, the ulcers were completely gone and he started to eat on his own. We slowly started to reduce the syringe feeding and he was eating more wet food. His fever was also gone and he was able to walk around without any pain.
In the sixth week, his condition improved a lot, and he was back to his normal self. He was playing, eating and drinking on his own. His fur also started to grow back and he looked healthy again.
It was a long and difficult journey but we finally made it. I am so thankful that my cat is healthy again and I hope your cat recovers soon too. FCV is a deadly virus but with early detection and proper treatment, your cat can recover completely. So if you see any symptoms of FCV in your cat, take him to the vet immediately. And follow the treatment plan as prescribed. With love and care, your cat will recover soon.
How long does a typical calicivirus infection last?
The acute phase of calicivirus infection usually lasts for 3-5 days. However, some cats may have a prolonged illness that can last for weeks or even a couple of months.
How can calicivirus infections be prevented?
There is no specific vaccine available for feline calicivirus, so the best way to prevent infection is to keep your cat indoors and away from other cats. If you must take your cat outside, make sure he is up-to-date on his vaccinations and avoid contact with other cats.
Are other cats in the household at risk of infection?
Yes, other cats in the household are at risk of infection if they come into contact with an infected cat. It is important to keep all cats up-to-date on their vaccinations and to practice good hygiene (e.g., washing hands after handling an infected cat).
Is my family at risk?
No, calicivirus does not affect humans. However, it is important to practice good hygiene (e.g., washing hands after handling an infected cat) to prevent the spread of other diseases.
What are the long-term effects of calicivirus infection?
Most cats recover from calicivirus infection without any long-term effects. However, some cats may develop chronic respiratory disease or recurrent infections. In rare cases, calicivirus infection can be fatal.