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CAT 'FLU

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CAT'FLU
This cat is coughing quite badly. Coughing in conjunction with other symptoms such as sneezing and loss of appetite, may indicate that the cat is suffering from'flu. Seek expert advice in such a case.

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Although it sounds like a single illness, there are three different types of virus which can cause what is popularly known as cat 'flu. Thankfully, vaccination now provides excellent protection against these infections. No effective treatment exists for a cat which is unfortunate enough to contract cat 'flu, so prevention is very important against these potentially lethal viruses, especially as any cats which do survive may suffer lifelong complications. Many cases of cat 'flu are of the respiratory type, categorised as feline viral rhinotracheitis (FVR) or feline calicivirus (FCV) infection. In FVR, the incubation period depends on the amount of virus received. In severe cases, signs of illness may be apparent after just two days, although it can take ten days for typical signs of respiratory illness to become obvious. It is important to consult your vet at the first sign of illness in your cat.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
Always suspect cat 'flu if your pet loses its appetite, and starts to sneeze repeatedly. In due course, the discharge from the eyes and nostrils will turn cloudy, indicating a secondary bacterial infection. The cat will find it extremely painful to eat, because ulcers will have developed on its tongue. Symptoms like this can persist for as long as six weeks, during which time the cat will lose condition rapidly, and may even develop complications such as pneumonia. It is actually quite difficult to distinguish between FVR and FCV, although generally FCV causes less severe signs. Antibiotics will help to overcome any bacterial complications, which may otherwise lead to recurrent attacks of sinusitis.

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This lilac-cream Burmese-cross kitten is displaying all the typical symptoms of 'flu.
DEVASTATING EFFECT
There is also an infection of the digestive tract, called (FIE),or feline panleucopaenia, which is considered to be another type of cat ,flu. Signs are a rise in body temperature, coupled with severe vomiting and diarrhoea. Up to 90 per cent of infected cats particularly youngsters may die from this type of cat 'flu so it is vitally important to vaccinate your kitten and to ensure that you remember its annual boosters.
DID YOU KNOWN ?
?Flu viruses can survive for less than a day outside the cats body. They can be killed by some disinfectants, including cetrimide.
?A cat's sneeze is powerful enough to spread the infection via droplets in the atmosphere for a distance of almost 2m (7ft).
?The FIE virus can harm a kitten before birth. It can permanently damage that part of the brian known as the cerebellum and upset the kittens sense of balance. Female cats must be vaccinated prior to mating as a precautionary measure.
Q Is there anything that i can do to encourage my cat to keep eating while it is suffering from FVR/FCV ?
A The cat's sense of taste and smell are closely linked, so that it is best to offer strong-smelling foods. Pilchards in tomato sauce are often a good choice
Q Will a cat that has suffered from FIE make a full recovery?
A It may, but in some cases the intestinal lining is permanently damaged, so the cat may suffer from recurrent bouts of diarrhoea, and appear thin, even if eating well.
Q I forgot my cat's vaccination certificate when i took him to the cattery I had to produce it before they would admit him why?
A Without vaccination proof against cat flu your pet and others are at great risk of illnesses.

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SINUSITIS
Sinusitis is a distressing and potentially long-standing condition in cats. The symptoms include discharge of pus from the nostrils and partially closed third eyelids (in the corners of the eyes)

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Inflammation of the sinuses in the head, known as sinusitis, can be a particularly troublesome problem in cats. It is often linked with cat 'flu or other infections of the upper part of the respiratory tract. The sinuses themselves are air-filled hollows within the structure of the skull. It is not unknown for inflammation in the case of the maxillary sinus to be due to a tooth abscess. Once your vet established the cause, then appropriate treatment can be given. The clear nasal discharge associated with upper respiratory tract infections often develops into mucus as the course of the disease progresses, and this is a warning sign that sinusitis may have developed. A cat suffering from sinusitis will appear to be very miserable, with its third eyelids clearly visible. There may be an intermittent discharge of pus from the nostrils and the cat's appetite is likely to be reduced, partly because its sense of smell will be impaired. The problem of sinusitis appears to be most common in breeds of oriental origin such as the siamese, although any cat can be affected by the problem
TREATMENT
Antibiotic treatment can be given, but this is not always successful, partly because it is difficult for the drug to reach the site of the infection, which is effectively walled off in a chamber in the head. It may therefore be necessary for your vet to flush out the sinuses with antibiotic directly, rather than relying on a course of tablets. There is also the difficulty that not all infections of this type are caused by bacteria, and so when Aspergillus fungi are involved, for example, regular antibiotics cannot be used as a cure. In the case of a tooth abscess treating the underlying problem by removing the tooth usually overcomes the problem rapidly.

 
This cross section of a cat's head shows the position of the sinuses
DID YOU KNOW?
?A cat can appear to make a full recovery from sinusitis, but the condition may recur again when the cat is not well. This is because the cause of the infection has not been totally eliminated, and so it flares up again.
? A cat suffering badly from sinusitis may develop swellings on its head which are painful if touched. This is the result of the inflammation within the sinus.
?Repeated sneezing with no apparent cause is often indicative of a sinus problem.
Q My cat has a recurrent sinus problem. Can anything be done?
A It may be worthwhile having tests run, just in case your pet is suffering from a depleted immune system. Older cat in particular may have difficulty overcoming infections. Dosing your pet with additional vitamin C for a week or so can be beneficial.
Q Are there any alternative treatments i can use to make my cat more comfortable?
A Cats do feel very out-of-sorts when afflicted by sinusitis. You can soothe the inflammation within the nasal chambers with a herbal treatment such as golden seal nose drops. Homeopaths often recommend lemna minor 6c, administered three times daily for five days. Long-standing cases of sinusitis are more likely to benefit from silica, at a potency of 200c, given three times each week for a month.

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