A seasoned veterinarian, Dr. Jennifer Creed is regularly invited to speak at cat shows. One of the most popularly requested lecture topics for Dr. Jennifer Creed is upper respiratory disease in catteries.
In catteries or animal shelters hosting a feline population, around 80 percent of the upper respiratory disease observed is due to either feline calicivirus or feline herpesvirus. These two viruses are quite pervasive, infecting cats all over the world. Cats exhibit similar symptoms from these viruses including runny eyes and sneezing, and both diseases can cause high fever, oral ulceration, and dehydration.
Exposure can come from shared litter trays or food bowls, contaminated surroundings such as grooming aids and bedding, and sneeze droplets inhalation, as well as through direct contact with nasal or ocular secretions and saliva. The majority of cats experience exposure to these viruses at an early stage of life. Symptoms will determine what treatment to administer, and most cats recuperate. If possible, where there is a large cat population, cats exhibiting clinical signs should be isolated and strict hygiene followed.
Vaccination is important as it lessens the severity of symptoms. Vaccines may be administered by injecting in the eyes or nose. The latter of these, intranasal vaccination, leads to quicker immunity; although it may cause the kittens to sneeze for some weeks, it does not result in other problems such as vaccine-induced tumors.