Feline calicivirus (FCV) is a virus that is a significant cause of upper respiratory infection and oral disease in cats. This virus infects cats around the world and can cause disease in both domestic and exotic breeds of the cat family.
While many different viruses and bacteria can cause respiratory diseases in cats, calicivirus is one of the most common infectious agents isolated in cats with respiratory infections. Details on other infectious agents that can cause upper respiratory infection in cats can be found in separate handouts in the collection of veterinary resources online.
What Are The Symptoms Of Feline Calicivirus (FCV)?
If your cat has calicivirus, the following symptoms can normally occur suddenly:
- Appetite loss
- Discharge from the eye(s)
- discharge from the nasal
- Arthritis (inflammation of the joint)
- Painful walk
- Bleeding from multiple places
- The growth of ulcers on the tongue, rough palate, tip of the nose, lips or around the claws
- Painful breathing after contracting pneumonia
How Is Feline Calicivirus Transmitted?
Feline Calicivirus is excreted by infected cats mainly in discharges from the eyes, nose, and mouth, and can also be detected in blood, urine, and feces. Cats may be contaminated by direct contact as well as through food bowls, water bowls, litter boxes, etc.
Careful cleaning and disinfection is necessary to avoid accidental transmission of the virus.
How Is Feline Calicivirus (FCV) Diagnosed?
In most cases, a clear diagnosis of FCV infection is not needed. The presence of common URI signs is appropriate for a suspected diagnosis of FCV (and/or feline herpesvirus) infection. If a particular diagnosis is required, ocular or oral swabs may be sent to a veterinary laboratory where the virus may be grown in culture or, more generally, detected by PCR.
Is There Any Treatment For Feline calicivirus (FCV)?
Your cat would need to be treated for intensive care and treatment if they have acquired pneumonia, haemorrhages, or experiencing lack of appetite. Oxygen is also given if your cat is unable to breathe comfortably due to pneumonia.
Although there are no particular drugs used to treat viral infections of this type, a wide variety of prescription pet antibiotics are used to prevent or treat secondary bacterial infections that are often seen with viral infections.
Ophthalmic antibiotics are recommended for the treatment of damaged eyes, and veterinary prescription pain drugs can be recommended for cats with painful walking. Some cats with calicivirus require feeding tubes until their ulcers have healed and they are willing to eat on their own.
Feline calicivirus (FCV) Prevention Measures
Vaccination is the number one way to protect your cat from FCV. The feline calicivirus vaccine is one of the four core vaccines recommended by veterinarians and can be started on kittens as early as 6 weeks of age. After the initial vaccination, cats will receive boosters every 1 to 3 years to keep them safe.
You can also protect your cat by reducing the amount of time they spend with other cats and by washing your hands after interaction with other cats. Objects that you fear might be contaminated must be soaked in bleach and water to remove infectious agents.
Female cats carrying the virus should not be bred as they can pass the virus on to their newborn kittens.