Feline Calicivirus - Symptoms and Treatment


Don't you know what feline calicivirus is? It is a really contagious disease that mostly affects large colonies of felines, but domestic cats can also be spread. Therefore, you have to be informed and prepared to protect your pet! We tell you.

What is feline calicivirus

The feline calicivirus It is a type of flu that affects cats. It is a serious respiratory disease that affects the upper airways, producing sinusitis and rhinitis to the animal. It is caused by a virus of the genus Vesivirus.

It is a really contagious disease, not only for affected animals, but also, a cat that has passed and passed it can continue to be a healthy carrier and pass it on to the rest of the cats that live in the same environment.

The virus is able to mutate and adapt to different environments and circumstances, so there are numerous strains of this disease. This feature makes even vaccinated cats can get the diseaseIf you do, you run the risk of becoming a healthy carrier once cured or even that the feline calicivirus becomes chronic.

It is spread by direct contact with fluids from the sick cat or with personal items, Like feeders or toys. Any cat can get it, but the most vulnerable are the puppies, the elderly, the stray and the immunosuppressed.

Symptoms of feline calicivirus

The most typical symptoms of feline calicivirus are:

Apart from these, There may be other symptoms depending on each strain, such as loss of appetite, lameness and fever. In severe cases it can become pneumonia.

The disease lasts a maximum of 4 weeks. Upon healing, approximately 80% completely unlink, but the other 20% become a healthy carrier of feline calcivirus.

This virus can be deadly if not treated properly, especially with the most dangerous strains, such as FCV-VS.

Treatment of feline calicivirus

There is no medicine that kills this virus, but that The treatments focus on alleviating the symptoms and avoiding complications. For example, antibiotics are prescribed to stop possible parallel, antiviral, analgesic infections ...

Keep a good hydration It is essential, so fluid therapy treatments are practiced. It is convenient to offer the cat a relaxed and warm environment where it feels comfortable. In case you don't want to eat, you may have to require syringes. Further, It is important to constantly clean the mucus, always carefully to avoid damage.

This disease is not spread to other species, but if you have another cat at home it will be very important that you keep them well separated from each other. The probability of infection is very high, even if they are vaccinated.

The best way to prevent, or rather, reduce the risk of feline calicivirus is to vaccinate your cats. But as we said, Being a disease with many different strains is very complicated to control.

If you have questions about feline calicivirus or suspect that your cat could have been infected, take it to the vet! Detecting it on time will make recovery much easier.

Why is feline calicivirus risky?

Feline calicivirus is a virus whose infectious strain easily mutates, that is, the same strain is adapting and changing according to the environment in which it is and the demands it presents, against which the virus develops small variations.

These variations have resulted in the existence of a huge number of strains of this disease, which makes its exact identification and prevention difficult.

Further, Even cats vaccinated against the virus can get it, due precisely to this capacity of mutability. Of course, vaccinating them considerably reduces the odds, so it is considered mandatory to do so.

Its appearance is very frequent in wild colonies of cats or in shelters, because it spreads very easily. However, if your pet cat has access to the outside, there is also a possibility of contagion, being able to infect other felines in the home if any.

In addition, sometimes your cat can get this virus chronically, or even become a carrier, which means that he will not present any symptoms or discomfort but can transmit the disease to other cats.

How is it spread?

The main route of infection is through direct contact with infected felines or carriers, because it is transported in saliva and feces, although in smaller proportions.

The most common means of infection is produced through the objects or spaces that an infected cat uses or frequents and that involve contact with animal fluids, such as feeders, toys and sanitary beds, since the virus can survive in these areas even by a period of 28 days.

They are more likely to get the virus young cats, street animals, old cats and immunosuppressed felines. However, any cat can become infected with the virus, so it is important to be up to date on vaccinations and necessary care to prevent infection.

It is important to note that this virus is not spread to humans or dogs.

Symptoms of feline calcivirus

He feline calivicirus It is a respiratory disease, since the virus penetrates the animal through the mouth or nose, staying in the lymphoid tissue that corresponds to the oropharynx, affecting the lungs. Your symptoms are:

  • Colds
  • Sneezing
  • Boogers
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Ulcers on the palate
  • Ulcers on the oral mucosa
  • Nose ulcers
  • Depression

The disease can be aggravated causing pneumonia and arthritis, although only in rare cases. Some strains produce fever and lameness.

Symptoms usually appear 2 to 10 days after being contracted. The pain of mouth ulcers causes the cat stop eating. Conjunctivitis, in addition, can bring corneal ulcers, due to the animal's efforts to scratch.

The virus cycle lasts a maximum of about four weeks and most cats recover, although there are chronic cases and healthy carriers. Approximately 80% of felines stop spreading the virus within 75 days of healing, but the other 20% become a healthy carrier for years, or even for the rest of their lives.

In recent years a more virulent and dangerous strain of this virus, called FCV-VS, systemic feline calicivirus has been discovered, whose symptoms add to those already mentioned:

  • Jaundice (yellow skin)
  • Swelling of the face and extremities
  • Ulcers on pads of the legs, nose, mouth and ears
  • Hair loss
  • Gingivitis
  • Stomatitis

If it is not attended to on time and properly, the virus can cause death.

What is the diagnosis?

Mainly, the symptoms help to know quickly if you are facing a case of feline calicivirus, especially when they appear ulcers in the animal's mouth. However, laboratory tests are performed with tissue cultures from the oropharyngeal mucosa.

Treatment of feline calcivirus

Once the presence of the virus has been confirmed and the strain identified, the treatment is prescribed. There is no drug in itself that annihilates the virus, but they are prescribed remedies that support to the animal during the cycle that lasts the disease, allowing him to relieve the symptoms and prevent them from getting worse.

Antibiotics are prescribed for possible infections, medications that help the cat breathe better and pain relievers for control the pain. In addition, antivirals are administered to control the effects of the infection.

Hydration is extremely important, so in principle a fluid therapy treatment will be prescribed according to the doctor's criteria.

If the cat refuses to eat because of the pain, it is recommended to offer soft and fragrant meals. If this fails, you must resort to assisted feeding in liquid form, by means of a syringe, always being careful not to hurt the animal or cause unnecessary stress.

Before the mucous secretion and tears, it is necessary to assist the feline with constant cleaning made with a wet cotton garment, to avoid discomfort to the cat and prevent possible complications due to bacteria.

The cat should be kept in a comfortable, warm and free from drafts, to contribute to its rapid recovery. In addition, it is essential that the animal is kept isolated from other cats in the home, and avoid incursions abroad.

Consult your veterinarian for the possibility of testing to rule out feline leukemia and immunodeficiency, as cats suffering from such infections are likely to develop other diseases more easily.


In domestic animals, it is recommended to follow the vaccination schedule for the cats from the moment the veterinarian indicates it, and repeat the reinforcements every year. Although this will not prevent one hundred percent from contracting the virus, it will be more protected than other animals.

If you have rescued a stray feline, it must remain isolated from your other animals until you can perform the necessary laboratory tests to rule out this and other diseases.

If it is a shelter, vaccination is also paramount. Cats whose feline calicivirus infection has been confirmed should be separated from the rest to avoid an epidemic. Everyone should have their own food container and their own sandbox. Periodically it is necessary to disinfect the objects you use with products that eliminate the virus and are not harmful to the cat.

The people in charge of the shelter should take care of the last sick animals, after taking care of all the others, and wash their faces and arms and change their clothes after handling those who carry the virus.

The area where animals with calicivirus will be isolated should have adequate ventilation, low humidity and a cool temperature. The spaces will be cleaned frequently.

The most important thing for the prevention of this disease, in addition to maintaining a vaccination regime, is to maintain a rigorous hygiene that prevents its spread.

This article is purely informative, at we have no power to prescribe veterinary treatments or make any kind of diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian in case he presents any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Feline Calicivirus - Symptoms and Treatment, we recommend that you enter our Viral Diseases section.