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Cat flu in Nairobi, also known as feline upper respiratory infection (URI) or feline viral rhinotracheitis (FVR), is a highly contagious respiratory illness that affects cats. It is caused by a combination of viruses and bacteria, with the primary viral culprits being feline herpesvirus (FHV-1) and feline calicivirus (FCV). Cat flu is a common ailment among domestic cats, especially in multi-cat environments such as shelters, catteries, and households with multiple feline companions.

Symptoms of Cat Flu in Nairobi:

  1. Sneezing and Nasal Discharge: Cats with flu often have frequent sneezing and discharge from the nose. The discharge can range from clear to thick and colored (yellow or green).
  2. Watery or Cloudy Eyes: Conjunctivitis (inflammation of the eye’s lining) is a common symptom. Affected cats may have watery or cloudy eyes, squinting, and discharge from the eyes.
  3. Coughing and Respiratory Distress: Coughing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing can occur, especially if the infection affects the lower respiratory tract.
  4. Fever: Cats with flu may develop a fever, which can lead to lethargy and reduced appetite.
  5. Ulcers in the Mouth: Feline calicivirus can cause ulcers on the tongue, gums, and other parts of the mouth, making eating and drinking painful.
  6. Loss of Appetite: Due to the discomfort caused by congestion, mouth ulcers, and other symptoms, cats with flu often lose their appetite.
  7. Lethargy: Cats may become lethargic and spend more time resting.
  8. Dehydration: The combination of nasal discharge and fever can lead to dehydration, especially if the cat is not eating or drinking adequately.

Treatment and Management of Cat flu:

Cat flu is usually managed rather than completely cured, as the viruses can remain latent in the cat’s system, flaring up during times of stress or illness. Treatment typically involves addressing the symptoms and providing supportive care to help the cat recover:

  1. Isolation: Infected cats should be isolated from healthy cats to prevent the spread of the illness.
  2. Medication: Antiviral medications and antibiotics may be prescribed to manage the viral and bacterial components of the infection. Eye drops or ointments can help with eye symptoms.
  3. Hydration and Nutrition: Encourage your cat to drink water and eat soft, palatable foods. In severe cases, fluid therapy might be needed to prevent dehydration.
  4. Humidification: Adding moisture to the air can help relieve congestion and make breathing easier.
  5. Nutritional Support: If mouth ulcers make eating difficult, your veterinarian may recommend high-calorie or liquid diets.
  6. Veterinary Care: Regular check-ups and monitoring are important to ensure the cat’s condition is improving.

Prevention: Vaccination of Cats

Preventing cat flu involves a combination of vaccination, good hygiene, and minimizing stress:

  1. Vaccination: Vaccines are available for both feline herpesvirus and feline calicivirus. These vaccines may not completely prevent infection, but they can reduce the severity of symptoms and the risk of transmission.
  2. Hygiene: Regular cleaning of litter boxes, food and water bowls, and bedding can help prevent the spread of the virus.
  3. Stress Reduction: Minimize stressors that can weaken the immune system, such as overcrowding and sudden changes in the environment.

Cat flu can be a challenging illness, but with prompt veterinary care and supportive treatment, most cats can recover and return to their normal, healthy selves.

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