Cat Flu is the name used to describe the cold or flu-like symptoms that accompany an infection of the upper respiratory tract in cats.
Around 80% of cat flu cases are caused by either feline herpes virus or feline calici virus (or both). There are other, less common causes such as chlamydophila felis, and bordetella, which causes kennel cough in dogs.
Signs of cat flu include sneezing and nasal discharge, runny eyes, lethargy, loss of appetite, mouth ulcers and a cough.
Cat flu will be suspected based on your pet’s symptoms, but to make a definitive diagnosis your vet will need to take a blood sample as well as a swab from your cat’s nose. Diagnosis can be tricky when cats are infected with more than one infection at the same time.
There is a vaccine available for most strains of cat flu, and it is advisable to vaccinate your kitten as early as possible (nine weeks of age) as this is the most effective way of preventing disease spread. There are vaccines available for the bacterial form of this disease.
Be aware that much like the human flu vaccine, feline flu vaccines are not always 100% effective, and even vaccinated cats can become carriers of the disease without showing any symptoms, leaving them at risk of infecting other cats.