Pet owners should be aware of the high incidence of upper respiratory diseases in cats in Hong Kong, Dr Rob Gordon of Animal Medical Clinic said. He singled out herpes virus and calicivirus as the most common threats to cats.
Herpes and calicivirus can be serious causing pneumonia and death in kittens and chronic upper respiratory infections in adult cats, Dr Rob said. “It causes most of the respiratory illnesses in cats.”
The disease can occur in pet shops and is common in feral cat colonies in Sai Kung. He also warned people to take care buying kittens from breeders.
“Make sure they are reputable and get the animal checked by a vet. Families are often devastated when they realise their kitten is sickly.”
Both virus infections can cause coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, conjunctivitis and loss of appetite. Herpes may cause severe conjunctivitis and lead to blindness.
Calicivirus attack can result in oral ulceration and mouth infections. Secondary infection with bacteria can lead to rapid worsening of an animal’s condition. Take your cat to a vet quickly if you see these signs of illness.
Rob also warned cat owners about feline infectious peritonitis. “It is fatal and incurable,” he said. The cause is the corona virus, which is related to SARS. “Fortunately the incidence is not high,” he said. It can be found in animal shelters, catteries, breeding establishments run by the unscrupulous, and multi-cat households.
As the summer approaches, the South African-born vet said cat owners should ensure their animals have ample water and ventilation or air conditioning. “Too often in hot humid weather we see distressed cats. They love running water so a cat fountain is a good idea. But be aware they can fail and have water available anyway.”