Table of contents:

Calicivirosis in cats: what is it?
Calicivirosis in cats: what is it?

Feline Calicivirosis, or Feline Calicivirus (FCV), is an infectious disease that, like Feline Rhinotracheitis, affects the respiratory tract of the cat. But what is calicivirosis in cats? Let's analyze the disease in more detail.

What is Calicivirosis

The virus which causes this disease is the Calicivirus, an RNA virus. Unlike the Herpesvirus (which causes Rhinotracheitis) it has the ability to resist more in the environment, especially if humid, and is also resistant to common disinfectants. As also happens with Rhinotracheitis, this disease spreads very easily and quickly in environments where many cats live, and most of the infected cats remain carrier of the virus Lifetime. Unlike FHV-1, however, some cats seem to be able to eliminate the virus over time.

There Calicivirosis attacks the Respiratory System, the eyes, the mouth (with ulcerations of the tongue), the intestine and the musculoskeletal system.

There are at least 40 different strains of FCV (feline calicivirus) and the virulence or severity of the disease caused by the different strains can vary significantly.


How does Calicivirosis contagion happen

There transmission of the disease usually takes place via direct contact with secretions nasal, salivary and conjunctival tissues belonging to infected cats. As also happens with rhinotracheitis, contagion can also occur through the inhalation of salivary particles released into the air by sneezing. Although it is not considered a major source of infection, it is hypothesized that the virus can also be transmitted through urine and feces. The contagion is common in environments where many cats live, such as feline colonies or catteries, but since the virus persists in the environment, its transmission can also take place for environmental exposure to contaminated objects from infected secretions. The virus can survive up to a week in a contaminated environment (longer in a cool, humid place).

What are the symptoms of feline calcivirosis

THE symptoms typical of a respiratory tract infection involve the nose and throat, causing symptoms such as sneezing, nasal congestion, breathing difficulties, conjunctivitis and discharge from the nose or eyes. The secretions may be clear mucus, or become purulent (containing pus).


In addition to the typical symptoms of respiratory tract infection, cats with calicivirosis often have other symptoms:

  • Ulcers of the tongue, palate, gums, lips, nose and nails
  • Anorexia
  • Lethargy
  • Fever
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Blepharospasm (persistent and involuntary closing of the eyelids)
  • Pneumonia
  • Arthritis
  • Joint pain
  • Difficulty walking

Symptoms of Calicivirosis infection they can vary widely depending on the calicivirus strain involved in the infection. The infection, if uncomplicated, can normally last between 14 and 21 days, and infected cats can transmit the virus through body secretions for up to 2-3 weeks thereafter.

Calcivirosis treatment and prevention

Most cats infected with Calicivirosis, in the absence of complications, can be treated symptomatically at home. Your vet may prescribe an eye medication to be applied topically (eye drops) if your cat has an eye discharge with pus. Although viral infections do not respond to antibacterial drugs, it may happen that they are prescribed in an attempt to prevent secondary bacterial infections from any complications. Anti-inflammatory drugs they can be prescribed to relieve the symptoms of arthritis and joint pain. For cats presenting ulcers persistent treatments could be useful treatments to support the immune system. Inhalations or steam sprays can help with severe nasal congestion. To minimize irritation caused by secretions, it is often helpful to wipe the cat's nose and eyes with a soft, moist gauze.

Preventing direct contact between your cat and other cats will greatly reduce the chance of your cat getting an infection, while following good hygiene practices, such as washing your hands thoroughly before and after stroking another cat, will reduce the likelihood of you can transmit the disease to your cat.

Objects that have been in contact with infected cats, and therefore contaminated with Calicivirus, can be disinfected by soaking them for 10-15 minutes in bleach and water.

Vaccination against Calicivirosis feline is important for all cats. The vaccine against Calicivirus, as we saw in the article "Kitten vaccinations: when to get them?", Is in fact included within the trivalent vaccine mandatory for all cats. The trivalent vaccine also includes that against Rhinotracheitis and Panleukopenia. In kittens it is normally given from 8 weeks of age and is followed by 2 calls at the twelfth and sixteenth week of life. Subsequent calls are recommended every 1-3 years, depending on the environment in which the cat lives.