Feline upper respiratory tract disease (“cat flu”) can be caused by a number of different viruses and bacteria, including feline herpesvirus (also known as feline rhinotracheitis), feline calicivirus and Chlamydia felis. Typical signs include sneezing, nasal discharge, conjunctivitis, discharge from the eyes, and mouth ulcers. Occasionally other complications such as pneumonia may develop.
Feline infectious enteritis (also known as feline panleukopaenia virus) causes a severe and often fatal disease in cats, with kittens at greatest risk. Affected cats may develop severe vomiting and diarrhoea, often containing blood, and may appear depressed and inappetent. Some cats may even die before showing signs of gastroenteritis. The virus is highly contagious and can survive for long periods in the environment.
Feline leukaemia virus (FeLV) is an important viral infection of cats that causes a wide variety of problems including immunosuppression, anaemia, and cancer. Most persistently infected cats will die as a result of their infection. The virus is mostly spread through social contact such as mutual grooming, sharing of food bowls, litter trays etc. However, the virus can also be transmitted through fighting.
Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) causes a potentially fatal viral disease that depresses the cat’s immune system. The most common way for the virus to be transmitted from infected cats to healthy cats is by biting during cat fights. As the disease progresses, signs which may develop include chronic gingivitis (inflammation of the gums), secondary infections (bacterial, viral or parasitic), weight loss, kidney disease, and neurological disease. In some cats the immune system becomes too weak to fight off other infections and disease. As a result, the cat may die from one of these infections. FIV has also been linked to cancer e.g., lymphoma. There is no specific treatment or cure for an FIV-infected cat.