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Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis – Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis

What Is Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis?

Feline viral rhinotracheitis, also known as feline herpesvirus-1, is a highly contagious respiratory disease in cats.

It is caused by the feline herpesvirus-1, which is a member of the herpes virus family.

This virus is one of the most common causes of upper respiratory infections in cats, especially in kittens and cats living in crowded or stressful environments.

Feline viral rhinotracheitis can cause serious health problems in cats, including pneumonia, conjunctivitis, and even death in severe cases.

Clinical Signs Of Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis

The symptoms of feline viral rhinotracheitis can vary depending on the severity of the infection.

The most common symptoms include:

  • Sneezing
  • Nasal discharge
  • Coughing
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Eye discharge
  • Eye Inflammation
  • Excessive Blinking
  • Squinting In Eyes
  • Redness In Eyes
  • Enlarged Lymph Nodes
  • Loss Of Smell
  • Tearing Eyes
  • Depression
  • Excessive Saliva

In severe cases, feline viral rhinotracheitis can cause pneumonia, dehydration, and even death.

Treatment Options For Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis

There is no cure for feline viral rhinotracheitis, but treatments can help manage the symptoms and prevent secondary infections.

Antiviral medications such as famciclovir or valacyclovir can help reduce the severity and duration of the infection.

Supportive care such as fluid therapy, humidifiers, and eye drops can also help alleviate the symptoms and prevent complications such as pneumonia.

It is important to consult with a veterinarian before administering any medication or treatment.

Home Remedies For Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis

There are some home remedies that can help alleviate the symptoms of feline viral rhinotracheitis.

However, it's important to remember that these remedies are not substitutes for professional veterinary care and should only be used in conjunction with prescribed treatments.

Some home remedies that can help include:

  • Steam therapy: Steam can help loosen mucus and relieve congestion in the respiratory tract. Place your cat in a bathroom with the door closed while you run a hot shower for 10-15 minutes. Alternatively, you can use a humidifier in the room where your cat spends the most time.
  • Nose drops: Saline nose drops can help moisten the nasal passages and relieve congestion. Place one or two drops of saline solution in each nostril, using a dropper or syringe.
  • Warm compress: A warm compress applied to the sinus area can help relieve congestion and discomfort. Dip a clean cloth in warm water and wring it out, then apply it to your cat's face for a few minutes at a time.
  • Encourage hydration: Encourage your cat to drink plenty of water, as this can help flush out the virus and keep your cat hydrated. You can also try offering wet food or adding water to your cat's dry food to increase their water intake.
  • Vitamin C: Some studies have suggested that vitamin C can help boost the immune system and shorten the duration of viral infections. However, it's important to consult with your veterinarian before giving your cat any supplements.

How To Prevent Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis?

The best way to prevent feline viral rhinotracheitis is to keep your cat's environment clean and stress-free.

Regular cleaning and disinfecting of litter boxes, food, water bowls, and toys can help prevent the spread of the virus.

Keeping your cat indoors and away from other infected cats can also help reduce the risk of infection. Vaccination against feline herpesvirus-1 is also recommended for all cats, especially those at higher risk of exposure.

Affected Cat Breeds Of Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis

Feline viral rhinotracheitis can affect cats of all breeds and ages, although kittens and older cats are more vulnerable to the virus.

Certain breeds, such as Persian, Siamese, and Himalayan cats, may be more susceptible to the virus due to their genetic makeup or immune system.

It's important to note, however, that any cat can become infected with the virus regardless of their breed.

Causes For Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis


Feline viral rhinotracheitis is caused by the feline herpesvirus-1, which is a highly contagious virus that can spread through direct contact with infected cats, contaminated objects, or by sharing food and water bowls.

The virus can survive for several hours outside of a cat's body, making it easy for cats to become infected in crowded or stressful environments, such as animal shelters, catteries, or boarding facilities.

When To See A Vet For Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis?

If you suspect that your cat may be infected with feline viral rhinotracheitis, it is important to take them to a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent complications and improve the chances of recovery.

Additionally, if your cat is exhibiting severe symptoms such as difficulty breathing, lethargy, or loss of appetite, it is important to seek veterinary care immediately.

Food Suggestions For Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis

When your cat is suffering from feline viral rhinotracheitis, it's important to ensure they are getting proper nutrition to support its immune system and help them recover.

Some foods that can help include:

  • Wet food: Wet food is more hydrating than dry food and can help your cat stay hydrated. It also contains more protein and fewer carbohydrates, which can help support your cat's immune system.
  • Chicken broth: Chicken broth is a good source of hydration and can help stimulate your cat's appetite. Make sure the broth is low in sodium and doesn't contain any onions or garlic, which can be toxic to cats.
  • High-quality protein: Protein is essential for building and repairing tissues, which is important when your cat is fighting an infection. Look for high-quality protein sources like chicken, turkey, or fish in your cat's food.
  • Probiotics: Probiotics can help support your cat's gut health and boost its immune system. Look for cat-specific probiotic supplements or probiotic-rich foods like kefir or yogurt (make sure it's not sweetened or flavored).


Feline viral rhinotracheitis is a highly contagious viral infection that can cause a range of symptoms in cats.

While there is no cure for the virus, prompt veterinary care can help manage symptoms and prevent complications. Preventative measures like vaccination and good hygiene practices can help reduce the risk of infection.

If you suspect your cat has feline viral rhinotracheitis, it's important to seek veterinary care right away to ensure the best possible outcome for your feline friend.

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