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.."(
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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