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Feline calicivirus disease: what are its symptoms?

What are the symptoms of feline calicivirus?


Feline calicivirus in cats is a disease caused by many strains of viruses called caliciviruses. This infection will occur after an infected cat has been exposed to another cat that has not been exposed to it through the environment or otherwise. The virus responsible for this will be eliminated mainly through oral, ocular and nasal secretions.

The frequency of these varies according to the number of cats living together and their lifestyle. People who go out a lot are more sensitive. Typically, the typical forms of the disease (oral and respiratory) are milder in vaccinated adult cats and more severe in unvaccinated kittens.

What are the warning signs of feline calicivirus disease?


The clinical presentation of this disease is very particular. Note that there is:

  • fever ;
  • and mouth ulcers;


With moderate conjunctival and respiratory signs (runny nose, sneezing, eye discharge).
Ulcers usually appear on the tongue, but can also appear in other areas (nose, lips and more rarely, the skin).

Some less common presentations exist, such as:

  • Chronic oral diseases;
  • Otherwise, acute lameness with transient fever.

These manifestations may only appear a few days after the typical symptoms of natural infection, but may also appear after vaccination, especially during injections of modified live vaccines.

A virulent form of feline calicivirosis has recently been described, more frequent in vaccinated adult cats. Clinical symptoms vary widely, however, the most specific disease is peripheral edema, mainly in the extremities and head, and fever, in addition to ulcerative lesions of the footpads and skin.

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Some cats may develop jaundice, fairly severe respiratory symptoms and bleeding disorders, manifested by:

  • bruises;
  • petechiae;
  • and bleeding.


Is there a cure for calicivirus disease in cats?


To date, there is no antiviral treatment available to combat calicivirus disease in cats. The following treatment is specifically designed to support the body during the incubation period to help the immune system.

You should take care to ensure adequate electrolyte balance and hydration, using herbal teas if necessary. It is also important to pay attention to respiratory hygiene (cleaning the eyes, mouth and nasal secretions with saline solution).

Some cats may stop eating because of pain or fever from the ulcer or loss of smell. Depending on the severity of the condition, it may be necessary to feed the cat as soon as possible, either by placing a feeding tube or by giving it certain appetite stimulants.

Equally important is:

  • Anti-inflammatory treatments to relieve pain;
  • In addition to appropriate antibiotic treatment;
  • Local anesthetics can also be used on mouth sores to relieve pain.


Should you vaccinate your cat against feline calicivirus?


Due to the fairly high incidence of calicivirus disease in cats, systemic vaccination of all cats, even those that are not outdoors, is strongly recommended.

The first vaccines for kittens are given at 2 months of age and booster shots should be given 2 to 4 weeks later. Maternal antibodies can interfere with the vaccine, so a third vaccination at 16 weeks is recommended in high-risk communities.

For normally vaccinated adult cats, 2 injections are required, 2 to 4 weeks apart. The frequency of booster shots will vary depending on each cat’s condition. Thereafter, cats that live indoors and have no contact with outdoor cats should be vaccinated every 2-3 years.

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Annual reinforcement is recommended for outdoor cats or for repeated contact with other cats. It should be noted that most vaccines do not provide protection against all vaccine strains. Indeed, some cats, even vaccinated, can be affected by calicivirus disease.

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