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Cat Care

Beware the seven deadly viruses!

A virus may best be described as a complex submicroscopic structure consisting of a bit of genetic material-its DNA or RNA blueprint-encased in a protein shell.  Although more of a chemical than a creature, a virus has an irrepressible inclination to reproduce itself rapidly and without limit in the body of a host animal that it has infected - your cat for instance.

Once it enters a host, a virus's fundamental goal is to make as many copies of itself as possible as quickly as possible.  If the host happens to be a cat with a naturally powerful immune system or one that has been vaccinated against a spedific virus, the invasion may be successfully countered. 

All too often a virus will overwhelm a cat's body resulting in a serious and perhaps fatal disorder. 

Feline panleukopenia virus (FPV) caluses a lethal and highly contagious disease, also known as feline distemper, that is marked by fever, vomiting, diarrhea, central nervous system damabe and sudden death. 

Feline herpesvirus (FHV) causes severe upper respiratory distress.  The virus is frequently passed from one animal to another via secretions from the respiratory tract.  In addition to sign of respiratory illness, affected animals may suffer from malnutrition since nasal congestion interferes with their sense of small and suppresses their appetities.

Feline calicivirus (FCV) often infects the upper respiratory system and oral cavity.  It is usually found in respiratory and oral secretions and is easily spread through grooming. 

Rabies virus causes an inevitably fatal disease of the central nervous system.  Although this especialy lethal disease can affect humans as well as other animals, it is more frequently reported in cats than in any other domestic animal. 

Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) causes a gravely serious infection known to directly or indirectly cause several feline diseases.  Its presence is most notably associated with the development of lumphosarcomas, and cancerous tumors made up of masses of white blood cells.

Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) cases an infection that eventurlaly weakens a cat's immune system and subjects the animal to numerous opportunistic diseases.

Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) causes a disease affecting many parts of the cat's body.  Generally there are two forms of the disease -" wet" and "dry."  The "wet" form is far more sudden and severe maked with an accumulation of fluid

in the abdomen or chest cavity. 

For more information, consult your veterinarian on the safest, most effective and most appropriate ways to protect your cats agains the sevel deadly viruses. 


Cat Watch, vol. 10 No. 5   July 2006
Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine

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