Jump to section

What is Feline Calicivirus Infection?

If your cat starts to show cold or flu-like signs like sneezing, discharge around the eyes and nose, and lack of appetite, contact your veterinarian. A detailed history, physical exam, and bloodwork can help to diagnose the disease. Treatment and prognosis will depend on the severity of the symptoms.

Feline Calicivirus(FCV) infection is a viral infection of the upper respiratory system in cats. It spreads by direct contact with virus containing droplets from an infected cat and contaminated surfaces such as food and water bowls or bedding. If your feline companion becomes infected, you will notice signs like loss of appetite, sneezing, discharge from the eyes and nose, and ulcers on the tongue. Signs can last from a few days to a few weeks depending on the severity of the infection. Kittens tend to be most susceptible to more severe forms, and may develop pneumonia from the viral infection.

Feline Calicivirus Infection Average Cost

From 462 quotes ranging from $200 - $500

Average Cost

$300

Symptoms of Feline Calicivirus Infection in Cats

Most FCV infections result in an upper respiratory infection, but it can also lead to a limping syndrome or a systemic infection that affects organs throughout the body. General symptoms of infection tend to occur with each form of FCV and may include:

  • Lethargy and depression
  • Lack of appetite
  • Fever

Types

Oral and Upper Respiratory Disease

If your cat becomes infected with the oral and upper respiratory disease form of FCV, symptoms may include:

  • Ulcers of the tongue and mouth
  • Discharge from the nose and eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Pneumonia
  • Difficulty breathing

FCV-Associated Lameness

In some cases, the virus will cause a thickening of the synovial lining of joints. You may notice symptoms like:

  • Lameness
  • Difficulty walking
  • Swollen, painful joints

FCV-Associated Virulent Systemic Infection

On rare occasions, a cat can become infected with a more virulent strain of FCV. Felines that have this form of the disease will be severely ill, and you may notice signs like:

  • Pneumonia
  • Skin swelling and ulceration
  • Bleeding from the nose and intestine
  • Sudden death
arrow-up-icon

Top

Causes of Feline Calicivirus Infection in Cats

All forms of the infection are caused by FCV. This is a virus that is transmitted through the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose, and lining of the eyelids. Once the virus enters the body, it multiplies mainly in the oral and respiratory tracts and causes the upper respiratory signs listed above. If the virus goes beyond the respiratory tract, it may affect the synovial membranes of the joints, leading to the signs of lameness and arthritis.

Very rarely, FCV is able to access other cells and tissues in the body. In this case, the virus attacks vital organs like the liver, pancreas, gastrointestinal tract, and lungs, resulting in all the general symptoms, and also signs of systemic infection like swelling and ulceration of the skin and bleeding from body openings. In very severe cases, the only sign you see will be death.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Diagnosis of Feline Calicivirus Infection in Cats

If you suspect your cat has FCV, contact your veterinarian. Your doctor will collect a detailed history including when you first noticed the signs and whether your feline friend has been in contact with other cats. Following a thorough physical exam to evaluate your cat's health and check all the body systems, your vet may choose to conduct further tests. 

A presumptive diagnosis is possible based on the history and physical. Depending on the severity of the illness, your vet may want to take x-rays to check for signs of pneumonia or run bloodwork to check for signs of organ damage. Treatment can be conducted based on the symptoms. For a definitive diagnosis, the doctor can take swabs of the mucous membranes of the eye or mouth and send them to a laboratory for analysis.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Treatment of Feline Calicivirus Infection in Cats

There is no specific treatment for the initial infection with FCV, but your veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics to help prevent or treat secondary bacterial infections. If your cat has associated lameness, antiinflammatories and painkillers may be prescribed. When symptoms are severe, your cat will be hospitalized to provide intravenous fluids, nutritional therapy, and oxygen as needed. 

If the symptoms of FCV infection are manageable, provide nursing care at home. Keep your cat comfortable. You can use a humidifier to make breathing easier. Wipe the the eyes and nose as needed to clear away discharge. If your cat has oral ulcers, use soft food that is gently warmed. 

In most cases, symptoms will last a few days to a few weeks. Pneumonia can become severe and may be life-threatening especially in young kittens. In the case of FCV-associated virulent systemic infection, 50% or fewer affected animals survive.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Recovery of Feline Calicivirus Infection in Cats

Follow-up after recovery from the disease depends on the symptoms your cat may have experienced. For cats with pneumonia, your veterinarian may want to conduct a post-infection physical with x-rays to confirm recovery. Most infected cats continue to shed the virus for about 30 days after infection, so you will want to keep your cat isolated from other animals. Some cats can become chronic carriers and may shed the virus long term.

The best way to manage FCV is by vaccination. Kittens should receive 2-3 vaccinations 8 weeks apart, followed by routine booster shots as directed by your veterinarian. The vaccine does not prevent infection, but can reduce the severity of the symptoms.

arrow-up-icon

Top

*Wag! may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Items are sold by the retailer, not Wag!.

Feline Calicivirus Infection Average Cost

From 462 quotes ranging from $200 - $500

Average Cost

$300

arrow-up-icon

Top

Feline Calicivirus Infection Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

question-icon-cta

Ask a Vet

dog-name-icon

Lolo

dog-breed-icon

domestic short hair

dog-age-icon

5 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Smelly Mouth

I took my cat to get the Fcv vaccine and about 2 hours later he smelled really bad and he had a cut like wound from his nose to his upper lip. Should I be worried? He’s usually hyper and he’s been asleep since we got back

Aug. 20, 2018

Lolo's Owner

answer-icon

recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

If there is an injury which has appeared and is giving off an unpleasant odour, you should return to your Veterinarian to be on the safe side; this wouldn’t be related to the vaccination but may be due to injury in the cat carrier or another cause. Without an examination I cannot say how severe the injury is or what specific treatment would be best. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 20, 2018

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Buddy

dog-breed-icon

Domestic Short haired

dog-age-icon

4 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Deep, Deep Red And Bleei
Deep, Deep Red And Bleeding Gums

My cat is four years old and has been diagnosed with calicivirus. It's showing itself in his gums, they are bright red and bleeding. The vet suggested removing the majority of his teeth, which she did, but it hasn't helped at all. He was on steroid tablets for a while which seemed to help a bit but today he is drooling, is so hungry and asking for food but can't eat it. He sleeps most of the time at the moment when he's not asking for food he can't eat. It's heart breaking. He's due to go back to the vets for a steroid injection on Monday but surely there must be something more we can do? The vet has said he has to live with it.

July 28, 2018

Buddy's Owner

answer-icon

recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

This type of infection is viral so any treatment is supportive and symptomatic, sometimes antibiotics are prescribed to treat any secondary infections which may be present; some cats get over the infection whilst others will be persistently infected for life and will shed the virus. There is very little to be done in the line of treatment unfortunately, good nursing care along with symptomatic and supportive therapy is best. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 29, 2018

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Benny

dog-breed-icon

Domestic shorthair

dog-age-icon

2 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Tired
Gurgling Stomach
Licking His Lips
Little Energy
Distancing Himself
Can See Him Trying To Smell

Hello! My 2 year old cat had surgery 3 weeks ago for a sliding hiatal hernia. He threw up dark bloody vomit and I knew something was wrong and x-ray with barium showed hiatal hernia. He had many symptoms prior to surgery (loss of appetite, weight loss, difficulty breathing, lack of energy for a few weeks trying to treat with medications). For 3 weeks post-op he was great, playing, moving about, eating a lot - acting normal (under supervision constantly to be cautious after surgery). Yet, 3 weeks later and he has the same symptoms returning again! About one year ago he was diagnosed with stomatitis and has always had a squeaky, respiratory problem going on since bringing him home from the shelter (where he also had ringworm) in January 2017. Could my cat have picked up FCV at the shelter over a year ago...Is FCV chronic?? Could my cat be dealing with FCV reoccurring every now and then? I have another 3 year old cat who I had prior... and he has no symptoms but occassional allergies (found outside as a kitten and never in a shelter). Please any help is appreciated. Thank you,

July 21, 2018

Benny's Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

1611 Recommendations

Cats are quite commonly affected by chronic viral infections that will show signs again under stress. Since his surgery was a stress, it is possible that he is having a viral outbreak and that it will pass. It does seem like a long time after his surgery for a viral problem to occur, and I worry that if he is showing the same signs, it may be related to his GI tract or the surgery. It would probably be best to have a recheck for him with his veterinarian so that they can examine him and see what might be going on. Hopefully it is easily resolved.

July 22, 2018

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Owen

dog-breed-icon

domestic short hair

dog-age-icon

8 Weeks

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

I am suspecting my 8 week old foster kitten may have FCV- He is currently eating well but I noticed a limp 2 nights ago & it has persisted. He has also started having some clear discharge from one eye. He seems lethargic & has a normal temp. I contacted the rescue who said it may be "feline limping syndrome" which I Googled to find out was FCV. I am wondering if this sounds like FCV to you all or am I being a hypochondriac reading symptoms online and making it fit his situation? I am also worried that I should separate his litter mate because the other kitten is seeming to be in excellent health at the moment. History: they arrived to me with fleas & coccidia. They have been given 2 doses of dewormer, Marquis for 3 days for the coccidia, now are on Albon for 10 days. They have not recieved any vaccines so far.

June 27, 2018

Owen's Owner

answer-icon

recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

Without examining Owen I cannot confirm whether there is a calicivirus infection or not; the limping may be due to calicivirus, herpesvirus or from a different condition (trauma) than the cause of the runny eye. You should keep an eye on Owen for the time being and visit a Veterinarian when you get the chance to determine the specific cause. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.msdvetmanual.com/cat-owners/lung-and-airway-disorders-of-cats/feline-respiratory-disease-complex-feline-herpesviral-rhinotracheitis,-feline-calicivirus

June 27, 2018

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Kitty meow meow

dog-breed-icon

domestic short hair

dog-age-icon

3 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Sneezing

My rescue cat survived FCV- systemic infection 2 yrs ago. Bleeding from everywhere. She just finished ear drops for an infection and now began these sneezing bouts where she sneezes about 8 times in row very violently. She did this when she had FCV but she had blood come out. There’s no blood now. Should I be worried?

April 30, 2018

Kitty meow meow's Owner

answer-icon

recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

There are various causes for sneezing in cats which may include some infections; other possible causes may be due to allergies, irritants, parasites, foreign objects, tumours among other causes. I would certainly recommend visiting your Veterinarian for a check to be on the safe side and to try to determine the underlying cause so that treatment may be prescribed. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

May 1, 2018

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Usi

dog-breed-icon

Siberian

dog-age-icon

12 Weeks

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Back Legs Limping

I vaccinated my kittens at 8 weeks, PCR, live modified virus, Purvax Feline 3. One of them started limping about 7-8 days later. Took the kitten to the vet, tests, X-Rays: nothing. As per recommendation from our vet, we gave him Metacam for 4 days. Not much improvement. Then, our vet suggested we give him antibiotics, Clavaseptin, for 14 days, morning and night. We see improvement. Could it be "limping calici"? He has no other symptoms. His brother however has clear discharge in one eye since the first vaccination and we are putting ointment Erythromicin for the past week. Doing better also. No other symptoms.

dog-name-icon

Lancelot

dog-breed-icon

house cat

dog-age-icon

3 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Gingivitis, Nausea, Blocked Nose

My fur baby is 3 years old, we thought he had leukemia, which tests have come back negative for. So the only thing we can think of is, calicivirus. His gums are constantly swollen, he's been on Baytril (antibiotic) and prednisone (cortisone) which has helped, but not 100%. He is still vomiting (not always, sporadically) and salivating. My vet now wants to put him on a low dose of cortisone every day for the rest of his life. I can't imagine this is very good for him? Please help!

dog-name-icon

England

dog-breed-icon

American Short Hair

dog-age-icon

4 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Eye Discharge
Excessive Tears
Eye Almost Shut

My cat is experiencing a frequent amount of eye booger discharge coming from her right ayer as well as an excessive amount of tears leaking from her eye. My cat also has her right eye almost all the way shut, I have not taken her to a veterinarian yet but I am planning to. I still would like to know what might be happening to my cat.

dog-name-icon

Lucy

dog-breed-icon

Tortie

dog-age-icon

7 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Breathing Difficulties

I had a blind cat that had had calici virus/herpes and was reasonably ok by the time I adopted her. However, stress affected her and so I used lysine as well as probiotics which helped her diarrohea as well. I went on a website to choose a species appropriate diet (raw) and cooked chicken and added the recommended vitamins as per www.catnutrition.org. I made up my own food and slowly integrated it into her commercial diet of pouches & kibble. The supplements and additional factors were egg yolk (but not white, in cats it disrupts absorption of B vits), liver, taurine, gland supplement, salmon or fish oil, vit B50 capsules, Vit E, incy bitty bit of rock salt, - please refer to the website if your cat has other problems that may need adjustment to the supplements. www.iherb.com in the USA can provide the supplements, but I have found more recently that www.bodykind.com can provide most of the ingredients in the UK. If you order from i.herb make sure you don't go a penny over £15 or you will be slammed with custom charges and Royal Mail admin charges. Lysine was great for removing the breathing problems and some vets recommend it. I used Biocare acidophilus human grade not pets, for supplementation. I don't find commercial pet probiotics of any use and are expensive. thats my experience.

dog-name-icon

Binx

dog-breed-icon

Domestic shorthair

dog-age-icon

3 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Mouth Ulcers
Hind End Paralysis

My Cat Binx tested positive for Calicivirus. First he had the hind end lameness and then mouth ulcers. My vet didn't test for it until I urged her too and I was correct. I helped him recover by giving him the antibiotic Azithromycin daily for two weeks, steroids and pain meds daily. Then I would syringe feed him a high fat wet pate twice a day that contained Vitamin C powder, celloquent immune booster, vitamin d3, dessicated thymus capsules and then famcyclovir anti viral tablets daily. He has recovered the ability to walk and the mouth ulcers are slowly going away.

Feline Calicivirus Infection Average Cost

From 462 quotes ranging from $200 - $500

Average Cost

$300

How can we help your pet?