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Feline rhinotracheitis: what is it?
Feline rhinotracheitis: what is it?

There Feline rhinotracheitis (FRV), is due to a virus, Feline herpesvirus (FHV-1), which that causes respiratory tract infections higher in cats. Cats who contract the virus have cold-like symptoms, such as runny noses and eyes. This virus is highly contagious, and although its resistance in the environment is low, it is transmitted very easily and quickly.

The feline herpesvirus, as we have said, resists in the environment for a short time, and can be easily eliminated through the use of common disinfectants. However, it is important to emphasize that this virus tends to last longer in the environment when temperatures are low and less when temperatures are high. For this reason it is recommended to vaccinate cats just before the winter months.

How the feline rhinotracheitis virus is transmitted

There Rhinotracheitis it is easily found in environments populated by many cats, this is because the infection happens very easily and quickly through direct contact with saliva and nasal or ocular secretions. Contact with saliva can also occur through inhalation of the saliva particles that are released into the air with sneezing, through the shared use of bowls of food and water and licking each other. The virus can also be transmitted from mother cat to kittens during pregnancy and childbirth.

Cats that have developed the virus remain carriers of it even after recovery. THE cats carrying the virus, in fact, they often alternate latency periods, during which they show no symptoms, a periods of exacerbation of the disease during which cats re-show symptoms. The reappearance of the acute phase of the disease can be triggered by any situation stress. This happens because the herpes virus permanently insinuates itself into cells of the nervous system of the cat.

What are the symptoms of feline rhinotracheitis

  • Acute upper respiratory infections. Also called acute URI (upper respiratory infection), represent the most common manifestation of the clinical signs of the disease, and can be: tracheitis, conjunctivitis, ocular secretions, nasal secretions, sneezing, excessive salivation, pharyngitis, lethargy, loss of appetite, fever and cough. Symptoms can last for a few days to a few weeks, and the acute phase of contagion usually lasts around 3 weeks.
  • Keratitis. Although not very common, chronic herpes virus infection can cause conjunctivitis and keratitis. Keratitis is a corneal infection and inflammation which causes, in the case of the FHV-1, small corneal ulcers branched, and is also called dendritic keratitis.
  • Dermatitis associated with herpesvirus. Another rare manifestation of chronic herpes virus infection is the development of inflammation and ulcers of the skin. These signs are most commonly seen around the nose and mouth.

Treatment and prevention of feline rhinotracheitis

Feline herpesvirus infections are often complicated by secondary bacteriological infections, for this reason, the use of antibiotics. Inhalations or steam sprays can help in severe cases nasal congestion. Some anti-viral drugs they can be useful in managing certain clinical signs manifested by the disease, such as eye drops and pills. To minimize irritation caused by secretions, it is often helpful to wipe the cat's nose and eyes with a soft, moist gauze. In any case, it is necessary that any pharmacological therapy is specifically recommended or prescribed by the veterinarian after careful examination of the disease and its symptoms.

For prevent transmission of the disease in environments where there are numerous cats, at the appearance of any symptoms, infected cats should be isolated from others to avoid transmission of the virus. It is also necessary to ensure that bowls, litter boxes and various objects belonging to infected cats are regularly cleaned and disinfected.


Vaccination against feline herpesvirus it is important for all cats. The vaccine against feline rhinotracheitis, as we saw in the article "Kitten vaccinations: when to do them?", Is in fact included within the trivalent vaccine mandatory for all cats. The trivalent vaccine also includes that against Calicivirosis 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.