What is it?
•Feline upper respiratory infection complex is highly contagious and occurs when the cat is infected with one or more viruses and bacteria
•The disease is prevalent in shelters, catteries, and multi- cat households
•Kittens are predisposed to the infection due to immature immune systems
What causes it?
•The most commonly involved agents are feline herpesvirus 1, feline calcivirus, Chlamydia, Bordetella, and certain bacteria species
•The disease develops from a single agent, or several (called a mixed infection)
•The infection can be transmitted from cat-to-cat through direct contact with infected cat, sneezing, coughing, grooming, or sharing food and water bowls
•Clinical signs include nose and eye discharge, lethargy, decreased appetite, conjunctivitis, sneezing, coughing, depression, eye squinting, oral ulcers, and fever
•Once infected, cats can become carriers for life, and though they may not show clinical signs, they can still transmit the virus to other cats
What tests are needed?
•Clinical signs often establish a diagnosis, especially if the cat has recently been in contact with others who are infected
•In cats with more severe cases, laboratory tests such as conjunctival scrapings, oral swabs, and samples from the trachea may be recommended, as well as a chest x-ray
How is it treated?
•Encourage eating by providing warm or strong- smelling foods
•Force-feeding or feeding tube may be necessary if the cat refuses to eat
•Humidifying the environment helps to improve breathing by loosening respiratory secretions
•Antibiotics may be administered for bacterial infections
•Cleansing of the eyes and topical ointment application are often recommended
•Fluid therapy has also proven helpful
•Treatment will also involve minimizing stress in the cat
What follow up care is needed?
•Prevent the spread of the disease by isolating infected cats and keeping recovered cats away from those who are unvaccinated
•Disinfect all contaminated objects with bleach
•Vaccines do not prevent all infections, but they can help to lower the severity of the condition
•URI can be life-threatening in kittens, older cats, nursing mothers, or immune- compromised cats