Calicivirus In Cats: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Calicivirus (calicivirus) — a common virus among cats the disease, which is characterized by lesions of the upper respiratory tract.

Causes of disease

The causative agent of the disease is the Feline calicivirus virus, which is a spherical virion with a diameter of 38-40 nm. It persists in the external environment for a long time and is resistant to high temperatures and high humidity. Disinfectants (even chloroform), as a rule, are powerless against Feline calicivirus, which increases the risk of spreading the virus from the room where the sick cat is kept.

The source of the disease is an infected individual that releases the virus into the environment along with urine, feces, and secretions from the mouth and nose.

Main methods of infection:

  • airborne;
  • during mating;
  • in utero (from mother to fetus);
  • through infected water and food.

Absolutely any cat can get infected. At risk — animals are not vaccinated against calicivirus, kittens, animals with weakened immune systems, as well as contained in shelters and catteries.

People can’t get kalitsiviroza from a pet. This is a species-specific disease that only cats suffer from.

The main symptoms

Calicivirus has blurred clinical picture. The cat becomes apathetic, lethargic, and sedentary. She refuses to eat and suffers from copious discharge from the nose and eyes, provoked by bubbles in the mouth. Soon they burst and form non-healing wet ulcers. Ulceration causes severe pain to the animal and causes an unpleasant rotten smell from the mouth.

The temperature immediately rises to 40 degrees and lasts for three days. Less often, fever occurs on the 3rd-4th day of the disease. Vomiting is not a mandatory feature: in some cats it is isolated, in others it is indomitable, in others it is absent at all.

The danger is that calcivirosis can be confused with many other diseases, such as rhinotracheitis, which is treated much easier and does not have as many complications. Meanwhile, if you do not immediately start fighting a dangerous virus, the consequences can be sad.

As the disease develops, the cat has trouble breathing. She breathes heavily, constantly licks her lips, from the outside it seems that the animal is trying to push a foreign object out of her mouth. In the future, there are complications in the form of bronchitis, pneumonia, pulmonary edema, arthritis, accompanied by severe lameness.

Diagnostics in the veterinary clinic

The veterinarian’s task is to differentiate calcivirosis from other diseases that have similar signs: chlamydia, viral rhinotracheitis, bordetellosis, gingivitis.

General and biochemical blood tests, urinalysis are necessary to reflect the consequences of the disease and are necessary for correcting treatment in severe cases, but they are not informative for making a diagnosis.

The main test for the final diagnosis of calcivirosis is PCR analysis (polymerase chain reaction), which confirms or refutes the presence of the viral code in the animal’s DNA. If a negative result is obtained, a repeat test is usually prescribed, since the initial data obtained cannot be considered reliable.

If the analysis is not possible for any reason, the diagnosis is made based on the symptoms. The most reliable sign is the presence of specific ulcers in the mouth.

If pneumonia is suspected, an x-ray examination of the lungs is performed.

Treatment method and prognosis

There is no single treatment regimen for calcivirosis, it all depends on the form of the disease and the individual characteristics of the cat’s body.

Treatment should be carried out in a comprehensive manner and include the use of the following medications:

  1. Broad-spectrum antibiotics for microorganisms (Amoxiclav, Ceftriaxone, Bicillin, Flemoxin). Take 7-10 days twice a day. The dosage is set by the doctor.
  2. Painkillers, anti-inflammatory, antipyretics.
  3. Immunostimulants (Roncoleukin, Immunofan, Fosprenil).
  4. Antiviral (drops in the nose Maximin).
  5. Maintenance therapy to avoid dehydration (infusion of glucose solutions, ringer’s solution).
  6. Vitamin therapy.

It is not forbidden to use folk remedies. For example, antiseptic and soothing chamomile tea perfectly helps with calcivirosis, but they should in no case replace the medication prescribed by a specialist.

Vitafel serum from the blood of hyperimmunized animals is popular among veterinarians. It is used both for the treatment of cats that have signs of the disease, and as a prevention. The treatment regimen and dosage are set by the doctor.

As for the forecast, everything is ambiguous. Most often suffer from kalitsiviroza kittens, and not all of them are vaccinated against a dangerous virus. Their incubation period is less than 24 hours. The probability of death is at least 80%.

Adult cats with a strong immune system with timely treatment in a veterinary clinic and well-conducted therapy survive in 70%. If the animal’s condition is complicated by secondary infections, the chances of recovery are slim.

What to do at home

The owner is required to provide the pet with the most comfortable living conditions. The patient should have a cozy warm place to rest. Drafts are not allowed, but the room should be ventilated from time to time, and the air should be humidified.

In free access, the cat should have clean water at room temperature, which should be changed daily. Feed a four-legged pet should be liquid warm food with a decrease in the daily caloric content of the total diet. The best option is low — fat broth with a small amount of chopped meat. If the cat refuses to eat, it will have to be fed forcibly, using a syringe without a needle. Hunger is dangerous for the animal, as it can lead to liver lipidosis.

Every day should be a reorganization of the mouth, nose and eyes. The oral cavity, hard palate, gums and tongue are wiped with a cotton pad moistened with an antiseptic solution at least three times a day. Ulcers are treated with Miramistin. The hair stuck together from secretions is combed.

Nose cleaning is carried out with special sprays. The eyes are periodically cleaned of serous and purulent secretions. To reduce the stratification of bacterial infection, antibacterial drops and ointments such as Tetracycline ointment, levomycetin Drops, Tobrex, and Cipromed are used.

With regard to taking medications, you must strictly follow the recommendations of the veterinarian.


Self-medication based on information on the Internet is unacceptable, as well as combining prescriptions from several veterinarians.

It is advisable to learn how to make subcutaneous and intramuscular injections, a dropper. Often, owners are afraid to carry out intravenous injections in relation to their pet and choose subcutaneous injections. Meanwhile, drugs that get directly into the bloodstream are more effective than solutions that are absorbed by subcutaneous administration.

After the disease, the cat’s condition is exhausted — the fight against the virus takes all the strength. To restore them, it requires a special diet, which is based on easily digestible and nutritious dishes. It is advisable to consult a specialist about the cat menu.

Possible complications

After the treatment the cat receives a relative immunity against kalitsiviroza. Cases of recurrent disease are rare, but they do occur. That is why it is incorrect to talk about persistent immunity.

It should be taken into account that even if a cat has been treated and there are no obvious signs of calcivirosis, this does not mean that it does not pose a danger to other individuals. According to veterinary studies conducted in Britain, all the sick individuals are active virus carriers. After 2.5 months, the virus activity decreases and is observed only in 50% of animals. Old and weakened cats become lifelong carriers of Feline calicivirus. The owner may not even suspect that his pet continues to be dangerous to healthy animals.

The only way to confirm the carriage of kalitsiviroza PCR is a laboratory method. Thanks to it, you can see even the smallest fragments of viral DNA in the animal’s blood. If a positive reaction is recorded for more than a year, then they talk about chronic calcivirosis.

Calicivirus dangerous complications. In 30% of animals after the disease, there is a weight deficit, brain damage, stillbirth (in a pregnant cat), convulsions, increased excitability. This may be due to untimely or incorrect treatment.

Prevention measures

Any disease is easier to prevent than to treat it for a long time and painfully. This statement fully applies to such a dangerous disease, as calicivirus. The best way to minimize the risk of infection is timely vaccination. It does not provide 100% protection due to all sorts of strains that can mutate. No wonder calicivirus compared to the human flu. However, even if the animal gets sick, the treatment will take place quickly and without consequences for the body.

The vaccination is given at 9-12 weeks, then again after 2-4 weeks. Revaccination is performed annually. It is important that the cat is absolutely healthy 10 days before the introduction of the vaccine. Poor health, a state of strained immunity are contraindications to vaccination.

Other preventive measures against calcivirosis are balanced feeding, the use of vitamin and mineral complexes, mandatory hygiene procedures (airing the room where the cat is kept, wet cleaning, treatment with disinfectants).

If the house contains several cats, do not allow the sick individual to contact healthy ones. Isolation of the treated cat should last at least a month.