Browse our veterinary-reviewed Dog and Cat Illness Guide to learn more about pet health. Always talk to your veterinarian if you have a concern about your pet's symptoms or health.
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Feline upper respiratory infection is a very common viral infection, caused most commonly by calicivirus or herpesvirus. It is compared to the human common cold, and usually lasts for about a week. The viruses are spread through moist contact, like sneezes, infected discharges or sharing dishes.
These viruses are recurring, sometimes over a cat's entire life. Herpesvirus usually recurs about a week after a stressful incident (like a new pet in the house, boarding, surgery).
Susceptible cats include:
The following symptoms indicate a mild infection, just like a human cold:
If the infection becomes more serious, you will notice the following symptoms:
In kittens, these viruses can lead to pneumonia or arthritis. Call your vet immediately.
Your vet may be able to diagnose your cat with a simple physical exam.
Additional tests may include:
Your cat may need to be hospitalized to safely survive the symptoms, but there is a very good prognosis. Death in adult cats is unusual; serious illness and death in young kittens is more common.
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