Feline Herpes Virus

Feline herpes virus is most common in young cats and kittens

Feline herpes virus is one of the more common causes of upper respiratory symptoms in cats of all ages. It is especially common in young cats and kittens in cattery or shelter situations, as well as in those outdoor and often stressed stray cats. Symptoms of feline herpes virus include varying degrees of eye discharge, sneezing and coughing. In severe cases, inflammation of the cornea may occur with sometimes severe ulceration of the cornea with eye spasms and pain being very prominent. In many cases, other viruses including feline leukemia or feline immunodeficiency virus may also occur at the same time, as well as the common development of secondary bacterial infections.

Many veterinarians will often treat with oral or injectable antibiotics to prevent these secondary bacterial infections, as well as topical antibiotics. However, because of the viral nature of this disease, topical antiviral eye drops such as Idoxuridine drops are often indicated, as well as oral viral immune stimulants such as Vetri-DMG liquid and Transfer Factor, which I have found helpful in many cases. Other immune boosting herbs such as echinacea and goldenseal may also be helpful in some cases as well.

In my experience and opinion, I have not found the vaccination for feline herpes viral infection helpful in preventing disease. At best, it may help lessen the severity, but even then I have not found this vaccination that helpful in clinical practice. While most cats will overcome this infection on their own with supportive care, other cats may remain chronic carriers for life, and may be at risk for relapsing or persistent infections of the eyes or airways, particularly under periods of immune or emotional stress.

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14 Comments

  1. We have a cat, Henry, who was part of litter that a stray had on our porch. The entire litter had feline herpes, and we treated them all as children. We kept Henry because he was the most sickly of the group. Due to severe respiratory infection or perhaps just a congenital defect, he has a hole in the wall of his sinus cavity, which has resulted in numerous abcesses developing between his eyes. Finally, we have discovered that by doing daily saline rinses in his nose, this keeps his sinuses clear enough to avoid repeat abcesses. Also, we supplement his diet with lysine. Henry is two now, relatively healthy, happy and very active. He sneezes a lot (very productive sneezes!), but otherwise appears fine.

  2. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJune 1, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    Thanks for sharing. I would also use oral immune boosters such as DMG liquid from 1800petmeds and transfer factor which you can find on line

  3. My cat has the Feline Herpes Virus and quite often sneezes thick mucus from her nose. Is there anything I can give her in liquid form, to relieve this stuffiness. I have been giving her three L lysine treats twice a day for over six months. but don’t see a vast improvement in her condition.

  4. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJanuary 20, 2014 at 12:34 am

    HI Nancy; Try immune supplement called liquid immuno from Rx Vitamins(that has lysine and other nutrients) , which may now be carried by 1800petmeds or you can get on line. Also consider using at same time DMG liquid from 1800petmeds, and transfer factor from http://www.tfpets.com Hope this helps.

  5. I am feeding a feral cat with a bad eye infection, I read that Zithromax 200mg/5ml is the treatment when you can’t do drops, They say this seem to work, can you let me know

  6. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianMarch 8, 2014 at 12:55 am

    Zithromax can occasionally help cats with eye infections.

  7. Hi doctor it’s me Jim again ,about my cat Murphy am considering using DMG liquid on him for his watery left eye he was diagnosed with feline herpes . He’s now on l-lysine per our vet with no results after 4 months. Could DMG help?

  8. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianApril 26, 2014 at 3:49 pm

    DMG may help in addition to L-lysine. I also love the product liquid immune from Rx Vitamins which you can find on line as has other supplements in it as well. Also consider transfer factor http://www.powerbod.com/2/michaeldym GREAT product.

  9. Why do you not carry the Idoxuridine 0.1 % drops?

  10. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJune 13, 2014 at 6:49 pm

    Likely too expensive but check with 1800petmeds pharmacist Eddie

  11. hey dr . Dym,

    Could you please email me. I just received a kitten from a rescue and I’m almost positive it is the one you posted above here. I was told she was not tested for herpes and I’m currently having problems with her eyes. please if you have any info on this cat please let me know. thank you

  12. Hi,
    I recently adopted a kitten and she has Feline Herpes Virus. We also have another cat at our house and I was wondering if it was safe for them to be together. Currently they’re isolated because the kitten is sick, however, I was wondering if in the future it would be okay to put them together. Thank you

  13. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianDecember 6, 2014 at 7:12 pm

    Once the kitten is over the respiratory infection, it should be fine to mingle them.

  14. Hello, my fur baby, Princess Sissy is 16yrs. I have had her to the same vet 3 times in 3 months. She had fleas , and also diagnosed with viral infection, feline herpes. Vet prescribed Clavomox . I also have an 8 yrs. Old, Mischief. Even though they’re indoor cats I treated them both with Revolution Plus. And gave Clavomox as directed. One week later after treating with Revolution Plus Princess Sissy is lethargic, won’t eat, lost weight, back legs buckled, won’t come out of her hiding places, all she does is drink water whenever she does come out. Plus, I can still see fleas by her eyes n nose. I’m so scared I’m going to lose her, please help us !!!

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