Feline Herpes Shouldn’t Stop Adoption!

Feline Herpes Shouldn’t Stop Adoption!

By Mickey Zeldes  January 23, 2015

Vincent and Vanille are two very sweet, although a tad shy, teenagers that have spent most of their lives growing up in our shelter. They were rescued as tiny kittens from a field and sent into a foster home to be tamed down. That was last May. Because of recurring upper respiratory colds, they have been in and out of our sick bay. They probably have herpes (hard to definitively diagnose), which is very manageable with good care and would most likely improve quickly once they were out of the stressful shelter environment. But it’s amazing how many people balk when they hear the word herpes.

Herpes is a virus. People get herpes as well as other animals (feline herpes is not contagious to humans). Being a virus, there’s not really a medicine to cure it. Vaccines, however, can prevent it. Most healthy animals fight off viruses, but if someone is immune compromised or young, and has an immature immune system (like most orphaned kittens) or is under a great deal of stress (like being in a shelter – hello!) their body may not be as able to fight it off. The symptoms often show up primarily in the eyes – they get squinty, red and runny, and they sometimes have other cold symptoms; like sneezing, lethargy, congestion and lack of appetite.

Very young kittens that have a severe case of herpes can have their eyes permanently affected, but for most adult cats it’s just uncomfortable. Viruses are contagious (to other similar animals – feline herpes is contagious to other cats) but only when there is a full-blown outbreak. It can go into remission until the animal is sick with something else and the immune system is down again or until another stress comes into their lives (moving homes, for example).

From personal experience I can tell you that living with a herpes cat is really not a big deal (granted this is a study of just one subject). I have two dogs, four adult cats and foster dozens of kittens through my house each year, so my home is anything but tranquil. One of my cats has herpes and periodically will get symptoms of the runny eyes. None of my other cats or kittens have shown evidence of infection, so it seems that general standards of cleanliness is enough to contain the spread.

Although there is no “cure” for herpes, the most helpful thing I’ve found is giving her a daily dose of Lysine, an amino acid that promotes the immune system. Most pet stores sell it (herpes is very common), and it comes both as a powder you can sprinkle on the food or a tasty gel you can have them just lick up. My cat prefers the gel, and we just squirt it in her mouth from a syringe as a treat. It keeps her outbreaks to a minimum and shortens the duration.

Because cats with herpes are considered immune compromised and sensitive to stress, it is recommended they live indoors. Other than that and making sure they have high quality food and lots of love, they are no different than any other pet cat. We know that Vincent and Vanille would thrive once out of the shelter and even come more out of their shell once in a home of their own. They are hoping to be adopted together as they’ve never been apart since the day we found them in the field. Surely, someone out there is willing to open their hearts to this sweet pair of kittens? Is that you?

11 Comments on "Feline Herpes Shouldn’t Stop Adoption!"

  • Marie says

    Love this article! I just fostered a kitten who ended up being diagnosed with herpes. It literally kills me that she is in the shelter now trying to find a forever home. All I want is to know that she will get to live in a home and not a shelter her whole life. Let’s keep it going. Herpes is not the end of the world! These cats and kittens need homes too.

  • Bob Van says

    I have 4 cats. All have herpes. Only one has a watery eye. U would never know the other cats have herpes. Until they started sneezing now and then. I do not care what labratories say about Lyseine. Lyesine in a petri dish. shows no results.
    I buy my Lyseine at my local grocery store. Buying Lyesine from a pet store is stupid.
    Money down the drain. Lyseine has been around a very long time. My Vet told me about it and where to get it. Local grocery store or drug store. I have been giveing Lyseine to my 9 year old cats for a long time. Years. Lyseine keeps me from going to the vets. Lyseine is not a cure all. People should keep up on shots and take their pet to the vet at least once a year.

  • Bob Van says

    Continuation about herpes cats: Please people, if your cat is not spayd or neutered. Please do so. People spend more money over and over at their local fast food shop. Or send out for a pizza. If U love your cat or dog. Please get them fixed. If U do not get them spay’d or neutered, U are a dirt bag. U do not deserve a pet. U are just adding misery to are over populated pets now that are in shelters being euthanized. Millions every year. Killed.

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