Necessary procedure versus declawing and feline calici virus

by Leah

Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

I would like to tell you about my cat Ozzie. We have been through an awful lot with him since his diagnosis of feline calici virus (FCV) last year. FCV is one of two major causes of upper respiratory infections (UIRs) in cats.

It all started when we took him for a pre-assessment for his insurance; the vet noticed his gums were quite red so after treatment and when the redness didn't subside he was tested for calici virus. He was positive and the prognosis wasn't good. He was put on a course of antibiotics and then Interferon. I was told the Interferon may or may not kill the virus however despite the £500 cost I was willing to take the chance (this condition was by now excluded from his insurance).

The vet also told me as a last resort he could have his teeth removed as then the virus would have nowhere to live. Quite honestly I was shell shocked as the thought of my poor boy having his natural defence taken away was just unthinkable.

It was impossible for me to comprehend him having to go through so much pain at just 10 months old! My vet asked me if I wanted to sit down as I must have gone quite white. I was also on the verge of tears.

Well anyway the Interferon helped but didn't kill the virus.

It got to the point where Ozzie became quite ill, he lost his voice, his appetite and also his coat was greasy, matted and scurfy; he just wasn't himself. My vet offered to anaesthetise Ozzie to de-matt his coat and give him a dental to make him feel better. I agreed and Ozzie was booked in for the next day.

I was later called by Ozzie's vet to be told that she wasn't comfortable bringing him out of the anaesthetic with him keeping his teeth as they were very bad and he also had a ulcer from one that had worked loose. Of course, I agreed as I didn't want him to be in any more pain.

I went to pick him up later that day and he was given antibiotics, anti-inflammatory and the human equivalent of morphine for the pain. He was to have only a little to eat but often; chicken or fish however on bringing my boy home I couldn't fill him up!. Despite his gums he was eating like there was no tomorrow! He was clearly feeling much better already!

A month down the line and his coat is glorious, his personality is back, he plays like a big kitten and he's put on the weight he lost (& more besides!) I'm pleased to say he has gone from strength to strength although he still has a long way to go. He kept his little incisors and his four fangs (effectively his defence, which I was delighted about) as the virus doesn't for some reason bother with these (I didn't know this previously). He is continuing with Interferon for the next 2 months as a precaution.

He will be at his best at about the age of 3 as this is when his immune system is at its peak however when he reaches his senior years (10+) the virus may creep back because this is when his immunity will be in decline. He may have flare ups and have to take antibiotics again but overall he will be so much better. The virus loves the feline cheek teeth so I would say to anyone who has a cat with calici virus who isn't responding to treatment have those teeth checked and removed if necessary.

You are probably wondering why I am writing this article in connection with declawing? Well firstly I wanted to offer information based on my experience to anyone who has a cat with calici virus but secondly I also wanted to demonstrate the difference between agonising over a necessary procedure which will ultimately be for the long term benefit of the cat as opposed to declawing which is far far more painful than tooth extraction (& is often done without pain medication).

It is done by vile selfish owners who HAPPILY and without a second thought hand their cat to butchers to be mutilated and disabled for life. These butchers then hide the cat away for days because of the obvious agony, suffering and bleeding. I have worried and stressed over whether I am doing the best for my cat. I have researched endlessly but in the end it will hopefully be a happy ending which is never the case with declawing. Need I say more?


Hi Leah.... thanks for an extremely useful article based on first hand experience - the best way to learn. I like your comparison with declawing.

As this specific virus subject has not been covered in any detail on PoC before I would like to add a few lines on FCV.

With Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (FVR), FCV causes about 80 - 90 % of all upper respiratory infections. It is then common, which makes your post all the more useful.

There is considerable variation on the severity of the illness.

Transmission is "by direct contact with infected discharge from eyes, nose, mouth and contaminated water bowls.."(
for example)1.

Clinical signs appear after 2 - 17 days. Sneezing are initial signs then conjunctivitis and water discharge from eyes and nose. Then fever and loss of appetite. These are common symptoms for both FCV and FVR.

FCV then may cause ulceration of the mucous membrane of the mouth, which is what happened to Ozzie. This caused Ozzie to lose his taste for food and a refusal to eat. Drooling can occur too.

There may be shortness of breath and viral pneumonia. Secondary bacterial infection can take hold.

I won't mention treatments as Leah has covered that through first hand experience and anyway it is a vet's role.


1. Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook by Drs Carlson and Giffin.

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Necessary procedure versus declawing and feline calici virus

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Mar 06, 2011 update
by: Barbara

Leah so glad to hear Ozzie is so much better, no matter what his gums look like as long as they don't hurt. I hope he continues to thrive, you must be so relieved.
Tania, I hope your daughter's cat soon improves, it seems like it might be worth persisting and trying to get some more teeth removed, horrible though it is for the cat to go through. Good luck and please let us know how things go.

Mar 05, 2011 Update
by: Leah

Hi Tanya. I'm so sorry to hear about your daughters cat its such a worry I do hope things work out. Apparently its best to take out all the teeth apart from the canines and little incisors between the canines. Its seems that the cheek teeth are only in gums which the virus loves. The other teeth are in bone and the virus for some reason leaves them alone.

I never regret having Ozzies teeth out I just wish I'd have done it sooner. He is so much happier. His gums will never be the right colour they will always be a little Red but he is so much more comfortable at the moment.

Feb 28, 2011 Calicivirus
by: Tania

My daughters cat has just been diagnosed with Calici virus, she has been very unwell and had to have some not all ( at this time ) of her teeth taken out. within a week after her op she seemed to be getting better. But just today after going back to the vet for a 2nd check up, her gums have become inflamed again. She is back on antibiotics and have been told, this could take a couple of months before we notice any improvement.
It's so hard seeing your cat going through this, i'm not sure what the out come is going to be in the next few months.

Sep 11, 2010 Food
by: Leah

Hi Maggie

He has wet food however once the virus is in decline and his gums are no longer Red he can have a few soft treats. Under normal circumstances the gums harden off to the point where I've heard of cats eating crunchie treats! With Oz its different because I don't want his sensitive gums to bleed through sharp food.

It has been a nightmare as the virus is unpredicatable and to be honest vets are still learning about it so most things are hit and miss however at the end of the day my priority is to keep Ozzie comfortable and happy which he is at the moment; he's a big lump of love!

Sep 11, 2010 Declawing and FCV
by: Maggie

My gosh! FCV sounds horrible!!! How does Ozzie chew his food?? I do agree that you did the right thing in this situation, I mean, let your cat suffer in pain, or remove his teeth and let him live a happy life. Declawing is actually quite the opposite to your situation, instead of removing the defense tool to relieve the cat of painful life, declawing removes the defense tool and sentences the cat to a painful life...

This is a great article, Leah. Although I don't like the sound of FCV at all!

Sep 10, 2010 Thanks guys for your support
by: Leah (Author)

I think with Ozzie its just that thing where you feel that his teeth are so necessary and he was also so young to lose them. I didn't want him to lose any vital parts; thats why I just can't ever understand anyone who would amputate a cats oh so vital toes.

I have to say my vet has been amazing she is the most sensitive caring person. Ozzie adores her as she is so gentle and talks to him all the time. I wish all vets were like her. My vets have even kept my de-clawing literature on their notice board for months.

As for all your feedback it makes me feel so much better to know that I'm amongst such caring devoted cat lovers who hate declawing as much as me.

Thanks loads for all your comments and Jo thanks for the extra info.

Leah x

Sep 10, 2010 You did the right thing
by: Elisa Black-Taylor

You really had no choice. Ozzie proved this by the fact he started eating right after the surgery.

What was done to him is psychologically different form an elective procedure (torture) like declawing. Ozzie was already in pain from his mouth. Cats aren't stupid. He may have woke up from the procedure in pain but I think he knew you did what was necessary to help him.

And since he's much better it proves you're a great mommy.

Keep writing Leah. I love hearing about your Ozzie.

Sep 10, 2010 Thanks Jo
by: Michael

Great advice - thanks Jo.

Sep 10, 2010 Lots of Healing Energy On the Way- Glow
by: Jo Singer

Hi Leah,

Both our adopted cats have the herpes virus which is also a condition that cannot be "cured". When they are stressed, they relapse, and it is difficult to say what brings on a flare. They both have been plagued with horrific oral problems, and Hubble, our white Oriental also had all his teeth extracted due to rampant infection, even though we carefully brushed his teeth. He too has his front teeth and his "fangs". And his mouth has cleared up fantastically.

Hush Puppy is next in line, sadly to say, however!

We give our cats 500 mg of L-Lysine, an amino acid which helps prevent the virus from replicating. It can be purchased quite reasonably at most health food stores. We buy it in capsule form and split it into two doses a day. My vet recommends it highly.

Here is some additional information (link opens in a new tab or window)

As far as declawing is concerned, it is a horror. We pray that it will ultimately be banned in the United States, since it is in reality, cruelty to animals. I detest veterinarians who continue to peddle this surgery even "selling" it as package deals at the time cats are neutered. It makes my blood boil.

Good luck with your kitty and hope this little bit of extra information is helpful.

Sep 10, 2010 Ozzie
by: Edward

Man that is awful your Ozzie had to go through that to be better.
I bet you suffered as much as he did.
Anybody who has an operation done on a cat for anything other than to make them better is a very cruel person.
Im a grown man but every time I hear about any cats who suffer,I cry.Those that declaw cats are not human.
Good luck to Ozzie for a healthy happy future.

Sep 10, 2010 Such a difference
by: Mel

Leah it must have been dreadful for you knowing you had to put Ozzie through a horrible but necessary procedure to make him healthy.

How different to declawing,cats put through a horrible UNECCESSARY procedure and not to make them healthy.In fact to make them unhealthy.

I will never understand either the mentality of the ignorant cold hearted people who choose to turn their cats into cripples.
I will never understand either the cruel money grabbing vets who encourage those people or understand the people who work for them therefore condoning their abuse.

Leah I hope your cat stays well now.

Sep 10, 2010 Just the difference
by: Barbara

Leah, I found this article really interesting because I'd never heard of FCV, thanks for all the information about it. But oh what an awful time you and Ozzie have been through, the poor little chap must have been really miserable before the treatment and I know you were worried about him and the outcome then the drastic solution the vet suggested must also have seemed overwhelming. But thank goodness you went ahead and it's obvious you did the right thing because Ozzie is thriving, it must be such a lovely feeling to watch him enjoying his meals and his life. Money well spent!
But what a difference Leah in your attitude to surgery to those who casually decide to amputate a vital part of a cat's paws. You went through agonies at having to consent to the surgery that probably saved Ozzies life, and yet those people who choose to declaw, and to do it for purely selfish rasons, are happy to take their healthy cat to surgery and bring it away mutilated and living with constant pain thereafter.I will never understand the mentality of people who declaw cats, be they the owner or the vet, and to be honest I don't want to because they are sick.

As to Ozzie's future, I know cats live for the day, we should all be like them. If he needs medicines in later life so be it, they are there for him and meanwhile he is happy, healthy and enjoying the wonderful life he has with you, a true and genuine cat lover.

Sep 09, 2010 You are VERY brave Leah
by: Ruth

Thank you Leah for your very informative article. I know how hard all this has been for you and that you agonised over what to do for the best for Oz so to write about it must have taken a lot of courage.
You are a true cat lover and seeing any cat suffering, let alone one of your own cats, hurts you too.
I hope Oz stays well now and I hope there is soon a total cure for this awful disease in cats.
Like you I don't know how anyone can pay a vet to deliberately inflict pain and disablement on their cat by declawing.
To have something cruel and uneccessary done for convenience sake is unforgivable.

Kattaddorra signature Ruth

3 thoughts on “Necessary procedure versus declawing and feline calici virus”

  1. Thank you for this in depth information. I have a cat that has tested positive for calici virus and we have been considering having his teeth removed. On reading your article I now feel happier to go ahead with it.
    How is OZ doing these days?

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