Feline Infectious Enteritis (Panleucopoenia or Parvo)
This disease has been seen much less frequently since vaccines became available. The virus invades intestines and bone marrow leading to sudden and severe bleeding into the gut, resulting in dehydration, shock and damage to the immune system. Young animals suffer from severe bloody diarrhoea with a characteristic offensive smell and may well die within hours of the onset of symptoms.
Feline Upper Respiratory Disease (Cat Flu)
This is very common and is caused by two major viruses but is often complicated by secondary bacterial infections. Feline Herpes Virus attacks the eyes, mouth and lungs, causing severe symptoms such as fever, eye ulcers and pneumonia. After infection a large number of cats will become lifelong carriers of the virus rather than recovering fully. They may excrete the virus at times of stress or other illness, leading to recurrent bouts of symptoms.
Feline Calci Virus
Feline Calci Virus is generally less severe but causes painful ulcers of the mouth and tongue. It can also occasionally be implicated in a much more long term and painful condition where there is severe inflammation of the mouth and gums (gingivitis) making eating difficult.
Feline Leukaemia Virus
This virus is one of the main causes of premature death for cats in the UK – there is no cure. Cats are usually infected with this in the first months of life but infection can occur at any time, including adults and unborn kittens. The virus is easily spread via saliva and blood, so can be transmitted to other cats – often following cat bites.
Feline Leukaemia Virus attacks the white blood cells and bone marrow, which weakens the immune system and makes the cat more vulnerable to secondary infections. It also causes anaemia and cancer of the blood, intestine and other parts of the body.
Although this is not routinely needed in the UK, cats need to be vaccinated against rabies prior to travelling abroad. Vaccination can be carried out from 3 months of age.