Feline herpes running rapid in catteries across U.S.??

by Jessica Maine
(Kealakekua, Hawaii U.SA)

Recently I bought two Persian kittens….Immediately I noticed the chronic tearing and asked the breeder about it.

She let me go to vet after vet, spending lots of money and time to try and “fix” it to no avail. After four months of “nursing” I found out this herpes condition is non-curable, contagious and could lead to more chronic problems like respiratory issues , eye diseases and even blindness.

The breeder still acts like I did something wrong and her kittens are “healthy”. I sent them back to her but she will not give me back my money or stop breeding cats with what I am now finding out is an increasing problem; feline herpes virus in most catteries across our nation…what can I do to help the unborn kittens?

Please help me with a solution. Thanks.

Jessica Maine in Kona, Hawaii

Hi Jessica.. thank you for visiting and sharing, It is disturbing. I was not aware that the feline herpes virus was so widespread in catteries in the USA. It is a nasty and highly contagious disease that can be fatal or it can be relatively mild.

The fact that it is highly contagious may account for it being so widespread. How have you found out that it is so widespread in the USA?

It can also cause damage to the tear ducts which is particularly bad for a modern type Persian as they already have tear duct problems due to over breeding (“ultra typing”) resulting in tear duct overflow without the herpes virus problems – see Persian Cat Health Problems.

As breeders quite understandably wish to keep quiet about any inherent or underlying health problems the problem tend to not go away. Another typical example is the prevalence of HCM (a heart disease) in Bengal cats. We don’t know how widespread it is because breeders keep quite about it.

In the long term it would be better for breeders to speak up and air this sort of problem as it will get fixed properly. Keeping serious issues under wraps just makes things worse in the long term. Breeders are not well organised, though, in my opinion. Cat associations should do more as far as I am concerned to organise their member breeders and manage methods for dealing with this sort of cat health problem.

As far as I am concerned the only thing that you and I can do is to publicise it as you have done here on PoC. This is not an attack on breeders – far from it. It is a way of supporting the domestic cat, preventing unnecessary suffering and actually improving breeding standards. This is good for breeders.

However, we need to be accurate. I would therefore ask you to please substantiate your statement that feline herpes virus is widespread amongst catteries as you state.

You might like to make a comment about this breeder (polite please) on this page: Praising and criticising cat breeders.

Michael Avatar

Update..the following days:

Breeders: test your cats for herpes virus PLEASE!

Website and other input suggests that there is widespread problems in catteries across our great Nation of the incurable and contagious herpes virus. I am begging the breeders to test their cats and only breed the ones who do not have it.

My vet charges over $200 to test each cat but isn’t it worth it to know you are a responsible breeder? I think it is criminal to continue on with breeding the cats who have it. One day, and it doesn’t look too far off, we won’t have any cats without it. Does anyone reading this know of a cattery who does not have it? This is scary stuff!

Jessica in Hawaii

Associated page:

Feline Viruses

From Feline herpes running rapid in catteries across U.S.?? to Cat Health Problems

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Feline herpes running rapid in catteries across U.S.??

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Aug 16, 2011 Feline Herpes
by: Anonymous

Yes, feline herpes is a problem in catteries… but it is one of many health concerns. I’m a cat breeder myself and breeding cats is an expensive hobby for me. I could not do it if my husband did not financially support my hobby. I spend thousands of dollars every month on my 13 cats. Four of them are neuters and spays. I’m blessed that we are in an upper earning income bracket otherwise I couldn’t be a breeder, at least responsibly. I do genetic testing for PKD, I do echocardiograms to screen for HCM as well as all of the other things that animals need: high quality food, clean water, clean litter, litter boxes, regular dental care and health exams. Yes, I do give all of my cats L-lysine and other supplements.

No breeder can guarantee perfect health. Just like we can’t guarantee the perfect health in our children. Reputable breeders still try though. My vet told me that 80% of catteries and shelters have the Feline Herpes virus. It would be almost impossible for me to purchase a high end titled show cat that hasn’t been exposed to Feline Herpes virus. So my advice would be to all future pet owners, don’t purchase a pet if you expect to never have any health problems.

Dec 22, 2010 Here is whatNW Animal Eye Specialists says:
by: Athena

(editted for space) Ocular infection with the feline herpesvirus is extremely common in cats. The virus is everywhere…There is not a week that goes by where we don’t see a cat (usually many) with herpetic eye disease.

Most kittens are able to recover from this type of an infection within 1-2 weeks. They may never show any signs again, however the virus will persist in their system in a latent state. Cats may carry the virus for years without showing any signs. Asymptomatic carriers may shed the virus. Recurrences of ocular signs are possible at any point in the future, especially after stressful events. Fortunately, it is the minority of cats that have these relapses.

Unfortunately, the diagnostic tests that are currently available to definitively diagnose a herpes infection are unreliable.

The most important thing to remember is to try to remain patient. “Cure” is not a reasonable goal as there is not anything available to eliminate this virus from your cat’s system.

Dec 21, 2010 Technical jargon
by: Athena


There is a vaccine for FHV-1 available (ATCvet code: QI06AA08, plus various combunation vaccines), but although it limits the severity of the disease and may reduce viral shedding, it does NOT prevent infection with FVR.


FVR is transmitted through direct contact only. It replicates in the nasal and nasopharyngeal tissues and the tonsils. Viremia (the presence of the virus in the blood) is rare. The virus is shed in saliva and eye and nasal secretions, and can also be spread by fomites (a fomite is any inanimate object or substance capable of carrying infectious organisms [such as germs or parasites] and hence transferring them from one individual to another. A fomite can be anything [such as a cloth or mop head]. Skin cells, hair, clothing, and bedding are common hospital sources of contamination. Researchers have discovered that smooth (non-porous) surfaces (e.g. door knobs) transmit bacteria and viruses better than porous materials [e.g. paper money].). FVR has a two to five day incubation period. The virus is shed for one to three weeks postinfection. Latently infected cats (carriers) will shed FHV-1 intermittently for life, with the virus persisting within the trigeminal ganglion. Stress and use of corticosteroids precipitate shedding. Most disinfectants, antiseptics and detergents are effective against the virus.

However, many healthy cats are subclinical carriers of feline herpes virus, so a positive test for FHV-1 does not necessarily indicate that signs of an upper respiratory tract infection are due to FVR.

FVR is the most important of these diseases and is found worldwide.

FVR is very contagious and can cause severe disease, including death from pneumonia in young kittens. All members of the Felidae family are susceptible to FVR; in fact, FHV-1 has caused a fatal encephalitis in lions in Germany.

FHV-1 was first isolated from cats in 1958 in the United States.

Dec 21, 2010 Neuter/spay doesn’t stop the spread of FHV
by: Athena

I’m sorry, Jessica, but a neutered/spayed cat can spread FHV as easily as a breeding cat, because it isn’t spread by sexual contact, but by sneezing, or other mucus discharges, such as saliva; it can also be spread on an owner’s hands or clothes. If a breeder has a cat with FHV, they may not even know, because it doesn’t always cause symptoms. The only way you can be certain an infected cat will never infect another is either keep it in a cage alone all the rest of its life, so it can’t sneeze on another or groom it, or else destroy it.

There is less FHV in catteries than there is in shelters and in the feral cat population, because they work very hard to keep *all* infections out or under control, not just FHV. My vet said that his resources say that 70 to 90% of ALL cats have it, not just the cats in catteries…and you can believe that feral cats have it, and rescues have it, and shelters can’t afford to test every rescue THEY get to see if it has FHV before they take it in, either.

In order to stop FHV from spreading from one cat to another, you cannot allow them to play together, eat together, sleep together, share a water bowl, or groom each other. Since you can’t know for certain that a cat has become infected without continuously testing every single cat in your cattery (10 cats = $2,000 each time, etc.), the only way to keep it from spreading is to never allow your cats to have contact with each other at all. They must all be raised in cages, alone, and the owner must wash their hands and change their clothes every time they touch a cat.

Pedigreed cats are already inbred, to one degree or another, as confirmed by the 2007 UC Davis cat genetic survey. If you destroy (or just neuter/spay) 70 to 90% of any existing breed, there wouldn’t be enough cats left to have a genetically healthy breeding population. So…do we outlaw catteries and pedigreed cats entirely? Destroy the 70 to 90% of shelter cats that have it?

That would certainly resolve the other shelter problem…cat overpopulation due to indiscriminate breeding by non-breeders…
for the forseeable future.

I don’t see that happening, however.

Nov 13, 2010 feline herpes in all catteries now?
by: Anonymous

I have been going online to vet sites to find out that many, many, they say up to over 90% of catteries have the herpes virus which is not curable and contagious. I had called the cattery in Texas who referred me to a Honolulu cattery to purchase a persian kitten. At the time she never spoke about any health issues , nor did her extensive website full of photos and script mention it either. But when I called her the night before I intended to return my little angels she , to my shock, said all catteries have the herpes virus, that she did breed the infected cats, that she did not give them lysine because she has too many to do that. She recommended giving the cats one quarter of an antihistimine like they do to show the cats at shows all dried up. Needless to say I was shocked and reported this discussion to the breeder in Honolulu. She denied having it. The woman in Texas emailed me to say I was slandering her and she had blocked any emails from coming into her from me. I never lied about anything. These women don’t want to call the incurable herpes virus a disease but there are sites online that do. At any rate it is a very sad problem that does need to be addressed so we will have 100% healthy kittens in our future. But with this unconscious kind of thinking from breeders I have doubt this willl happen until laws are changed…I raised underfoot persian kittens in the 80s and never saw this. All my persian cats lived a long, healthy life so I did not suspect anything at all and they don’t tell you anything. Now I need to go through the long painful legal process all because I wanted to give and get love with these graceful, sweet creatures. Thank you for posting this. Perhaps it will save someone from this agonizing saga. aloha, J


Feline herpes running rapid in catteries across U.S.?? — 4 Comments

  1. Pingback: Pictures of Persian Cats | Pictures of Cats

  2. We just got 2 “dollface” persian kittens. For the exact reason that they WOULDN’T have all the associated breathing/tearing issues. However, the female has an infected eye ulcer, that MAY end up taking her sight in that one eye. The Vet said that up to 80% of ALL cats carry the Feline Herpes Virus, which is what SHE believes caused this kittens eye ulcer. We are devastated! And YES, it’s very very contagious! Luckily, the boy kitten is completely healthy…go figure. We’ve only had the kittens 10 days, but are already incredibly emotionally attached. We’re waiting 24 hours and then going back to the Vet for the final decision on the eye, before making any concrete decisions. IF we can save the eye, we want to keep the kitten! If not, as much as we love her already, we didn’t spend our hard earned money to buy a blind cat, plain and simple. We have let the breeders know what’s going on and they’ve been very supportive the whole way thru. BUT, we just dropped the “H” (herpes) bomb on them this evening in an email…we’ll see how they respond to THAT. (Fingers crossed) They’ve been breeding for 24 yrs. and are A+ accredited with the BBB. So hopefully that says a lot about their integrity, character and CSI! (Customer Satifaction Index) We’ll see!

  3. I was sold a $1200. devon Rex kitten with the FHV-1 and FVR virus. Known as the feline”Herpes virus. I am positive she was aware, because she sent eyecream and lysine home with the kitten! Who’s eye was sick at the time. She also never gave us our registration papers and refuses to produce them! She let me spend almost a thousand dollars trying to figure out the problem. Even after I called here every time the kitten was at the vets horribly sick! 5 times in less then 9 months. She refuses to talk on the phone after the test came back positive. She does text ” NO WORRIES” and “I WORRY to much.” I have never heard of this disease but if I had known I would not have taken a very I’ll kitten that will need treatment on and off her entire life and is in danger of getting pneumonia at any time and dieing. I feel ripped off and betrayed. This breeder first name Hellen was horrible to me and my kitten and is only concerned about the bottom dollar!!!! Beware it’s all fine and dandy till you catch her in several lies and diseption. She also delayed giving us our kitten for over 4 weeks stating it was weight issue..( said she was to skinny to leave) I would bet any money the kitten was sick. Hence all the meds that she sent home with the kitten.

    • Thanks for sharing Anna. Your story is a classic bad breeder story and I am very sorry this happened both for you and your cat. It is very sad.

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