Skip to content

Healthy Cats

Feline Calicivirus

Font Size
A
A
A

A new mutation of the calicivirus has been identified in various outbreaks in cats. The first outbreak was in California, but outbreaks have since been identified across the United States. The calicivirus in these cases seems to have mutated to a more virulent form, and is therefore now known as virulent systemic feline calicivirus (VS-FCV).

The virus may be shed in feces, sloughed skin and hair, and nasal, ocular, and oral secretions. Asymptomatic and mildly affected cats may transmit the fatal disease to other cats; therefore, all exposed cats should be considered a potential infectious risk. This virus is very contagious and easily spread by both direct contact and on clothes, dishes, bedding, and other objects. Strict hygiene is required to stop the spread in outbreaks.

Recommended Related to Cats

Dehydration in Cats

Dehydration is an imbalance of water and electrolytes (minerals) in the body, and can cause serious complications for pets and people alike. Water is essential to cats, who depend on proper daily fluid intake to maintain appropriate health and replace fluids that are routinely lost through urine, feces and respiration. Water makes up 80 percent of your cat’s body, and is necessary for all his biological processes, including circulation, digestion and waste removal.  

Read the Dehydration in Cats article > >

Along with respiratory signs, cats will show a high fever, edema of the face and limbs, and ulceration and hair loss on the face, feet, and pinnas. There may also be other signs seen with more typical feline upper respiratory diseases, including nasal and ocular discharge, oral ulceration, anorexia, and depression.

A secondary immune response is believed to be responsible for the organ damage that accompanies these signs, and leads to a 60 percent fatality rate. The mortality rate is higher in adults than it is in kittens.

Although this syndrome remains uncommon, occasional outbreaks and clusters of cases have been documented throughout the United States. So far, this has occurred in cats of all ages, including those vaccinated for the common calicivirus as well as nonvaccinates. No other species is known to be affected by this strain of calicivirus. There is no known risk to human health.

Treatment: For affected cats, treatment consists of supportive care, along with drug therapy using steroids and interferon. Bovine lactoferrin may be useful. The efficacy of these treatments is not yet known.

Prevention: Isolate all cats suspected of being infected. VS-FCV can survive up to four weeks in the environment and is resistant to some disinfectants, but a bleach solution (diluted with water at 1:32) has been used to effectively contain previous outbreaks. All surfaces should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. Do not introduce any new cats for at least four weeks.

A new vaccine from Fort Dodge Animal Health, called CaliciVax, has recently been licensed for control (see page 108).

WebMD Veterinary Reference from "Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook"

Today on WebMD

cat at table
What's safe for them to eat?
Maine Coon cat breed
What they do and why cats have them.
 
Kitten in litterbox
How to solve them.
cat meowing
Why some cats are so talkative
 
cat on couch
Evaluator
Kitten using litter box
Quiz
 
sleeping kitten
Slideshow
sad kitten looking at milk glass
Slideshow
 

Love your pets, hate your allergies?

Get tips for relief.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

cat at table
Slideshow
muddy dog on white sofa
Quiz
 
Maine Coon cat breed
Article
Pets: Behavior Problems in Cats
Slideshow