Manchester’s pet owners are being urged by a Cheshire vet to vaccinate their cats before they catch life-long infectious herpes, after the RSPCA Manchester & Salford branch saved a kitten from an overinfested house rife with the virus.
In the majority of cases, Feline Herpesvirus (FHV) itself is symptomless and will not affect a cat’s health or lifespan, but during times of stress or ill health it can manifest itself in flu like symptoms such as sneezing or conjunctivitis – which could be fatal if not treated.
During these times however, it is also very contagious to other cats.
Mulder is a five-month-old black and white tomcat who was rescued from a house where the over breeding of cats had gone out of control. The cats were all in poor condition and were found to have FHV.
The RSPCA are looking for a home for Mulder, but as a single house cat to prevent the life-long virus to be passed onto other cats.
‘CUDDLE MONSTER’: Mulder is a five-month-old kitten with FHV
On their Facebook page, the RSPCA Manchester & Salford branch spoke to the kitten’s foster mother, to which she said: “Mulder is a typical kitten who loves playing catch the foot under the duvet. He is very affectionate when he wants to be; often he will catch your hand to show you the best way to fuss him [ear tickles and chin rubs].
“He loves to curl up next to you on the sofa and enjoys his cuddles. However, he can be skittish and will sometimes run away and hide if you approach him.
“Don’t let that get you down though! With a little coaxing and a couple of Dreamies he’ll be back out again in no time. Mulder will make a fantastic cat for someone willing to give him a little extra time and fuss to help him come out of his shell.”
FHV is part of a large family of DNA viruses that can cause severe diseases in animals.
It is said that FHV can cause feline viral rhinotracheitis and keratitis in cats, which are upper respiratory diseases that can be fatal.
Dr Jamie Finney, vetenary surgeon at Abbeycroft Vetenary Centre in Cheshire, explains that once a cat is diagnosed with FHV then it will be dormant in them for the rest of their lives.
She told MM: “It’s basically a natural infection through oral or nasal routes – so basically breathing it in. When the virus attacks the nose, it can go into the nasal bones. It’s kind of how the common cold is spread.
“The hard part with herpes is that cats can get it, clear it from their system but still become a carrier. If a cat has ever been infected by herpes, then it may risk the population if it ever gets stressed or their immune system compromises.
“It can cause severe upper respiratory disease, so symptoms such as sneezing, fevers, discharges from their eyes and their noses, salivation and inflammation of the mouth which can put them off eating which can be serious. Ulceration of the mouth could also occur.
“We urge people to vaccinate because hopefully animals will have protection against it so that when they come into contact with it they can battle it off.”
KITTY HERPES: Cat suffering from a bad case of conjunctivitis
Dr Finney however crucially pointed out that this is part of a wider problem of owners not understanding the importance of vaccinating or even neutering their cats.
“We get a lot of cases where people just don’t vaccinate their cats,” she said. “Whether they don’t feel like it’s important, it’s costs unfortunately.
“There a lot of people who get cats and we see them come through doing neutering, but some people aren’t even doing that which is an even worse nightmare because that contributes to the stray cat population.
“Unfortunately with stray cats you have going to have more cats living in the area which is obviously going to increase the risk of disease – it’s a vicious cycle.
“We’d hope the majority of people, if they get an animal, they would want to make sure that it is healthy and obviously run through the importance of having vaccinations, worming, flea, this that and the other.
“A lot of people will have strays. Their cat will get pregnant and they think ‘oh I need to get rid of the kitten, let’s give it to my neighbour’, but when the education isn’t out there, it becomes very difficult.”
Images courtesy of Patricia Towne and Veterinary Medical Uni. Nottingham, with thanks.