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

Protect yourself and your pet. Compare top pet insurance plans.

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

Protect yourself and your pet. Compare top pet insurance plans.

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

Oliver

dog-breed-icon

Norwegian Forest

dog-age-icon

2 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

I have a cat that is 2 years old and fully up to date on all his vaccines/shots/neutered but last week I brought home a 2 month old kitten who is not completely vaccinated yet. He is due next week for his 2nd distemper and 3rd deworming shots, but I noticed on my 2 year old cat that he has a raw looking burn like mark on his nose. He isn’t showing any of the other symptoms and the kitten isn’t showing any at all (no nose burn) I’m wondering if the kitten would necessarily have the symptoms first if he’s the one who gave my other cat calicuvirus. Or if my cat just possibly got into something and burned his nose.

Dec. 6, 2017

Oliver's Owner

answer-icon

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

The nose burn or ulceration may be caused by a few different causes including chemical or physical burns, infections (not calicivirus), carcinoma among other causes; I would keep an eye on things and keep any wound clean, if you have further concerns you should check in with your Veterinarian for an examination. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Dec. 7, 2017

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Tristan

dog-breed-icon

Dlh

dog-age-icon

2 months

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

Difficulty Breathing
Difficulty Breathing/Not Eating

What other treatments can I give my 2 month foster kitten suffering with Calicivirus? He is doing very poorly. Doing nebulizer treatments, force-feeding gruel, receives high-calorie/fat/sugar booster supplement gel, humidifier, Benadryl, saline mist for infants, and Azithromycin. Holding him to keep him warm. Read more at: https://wagwalking.com/cat/condition/feline-calicivirus-infection

Dec. 6, 2017

Tristan's Owner

answer-icon

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

There is no real direct treatment for feline calicivirus, only supportive and symptomatic care; antibiotics to control secondary infection, nebulization, keeping in a humid environment. Apart from what has been mentioned, there isn’t really anything else that can be done due to the nature of viral infections. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Dec. 6, 2017

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

garfield

dog-breed-icon

stray

dog-age-icon

One Month

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

Critical severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

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

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Swollen Eyelids, Watery Secretion

I need help please...I have a one month old kitten and he suddenly started closing one eye and tried to open it and check then gave him refresh tears...then i visited the vet and they said it could be viral infection and they prescribed solorefresh tears and isoptofenicol eye drops..but he was getting worse...then they prescribed IV linco something along with vigamox eye drops...then his eye starting to close completely and when i try to open, there is watery secretion coming out and he is sneezing (i thought he got a flue or something)...they say he is very small to give him more medications and it is now associated with respiratory problem...he is deteriorating with no progress whatsoever in his condition. If anybody could help to save him please do.

dog-name-icon

Sebastian

dog-breed-icon

domestic short hair

dog-age-icon

5 Months

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

Critical severity

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

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

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Fever
Lethargy
Dehydration
Lameness
Third Eyelid
Pain In Legs

My Sebastian is mostly an outside cat and he has not gotten any shots. One day when I was bringing in him and his brother in I noticed that he was limping, I was concerned and brought him in and looked over him and he had a swollen wrist. I proceeded to keep him inside but his condition seemed to decline roughly after two days. He was hiding under an old antique stove and he didn't want to be touched or even eat or drink. I took him to the doctor that day after discovering that more than one of his legs were hurting and also because his third eyelid was 3/4 of the way showing and he couldn't walk.They couldn't/still can't figure out what's wrong with him, all his blood work was good but he had a temperature of 103.7. They gave me medicine for him and IV because he was dehydrated. They gave me some antibiotics and steroids because they believe it to be a viral infection. It has been a week now and I have seen so much improvement in him his temperature is going down and I don't have to force him to eat or drink anymore and he is grooming the parts he can reach and in all he seems much happier, However his ability to walk has declined more and now he can't even stand without fall on his side immediately. His front legs can hold weight but his back legs are basically useless, he can still feel his legs and when I tried doing R.O.M. on him some of his feet could work with extension it couldn't flex and vise versa. I took him to the doctor two days ago and he gave a new antibiotic and told me if in a week he is not better that he recommends to put Sebastian down. I've been researching trying to figure out what it might be that has my son so sick and this is on the top of my list. Do you think FCV is a possibility?

Feline Calicivirus Infection Average Cost

From 462 quotes ranging from $200 - $500

Average Cost

$300

Protect yourself and your pet. Compare top pet insurance plans.

Need pet insurance?