Cat flu - A fosterer's perspective

This account was written by one of our branch fosterers:

I took on a family of mum and kittens and three other kittens from the same home, but they were kept separately due to their difference in ages.  Within a few days, two of the kittens (one from each litter) started to sneeze quite regularly over a period of a couple of days. 

I suspected it could be cat flu and not just dust, although had not personally experienced cat flu before as my own cats are fully vaccinated.  I had heard it could get serious, especially for young kittens.  There were no other symptoms, which can be reported, such as lethargy or loss of appetite.  They acted like normal happy kittens in every other respect.

I took them straight to the vet where it was confirmed they had cat flu, some worse than others, which was lucky as it was caught early.

Mum just had a temperature and had contracted the cat flu from her previous home as she had not been vaccinated. 

One kitten had the sneezes and its third eyelid had come across showing it was poorly.

Two kittens had a temperature and were showing no other signs.

The runt of a litter had conjunctivitis and an ulcer on its eye.

Two others were constantly sneezing, had watery eyes and snuffly noses.

Once cat flu had been confirmed I had to be extra careful looking after the them all to ensure that it was not transmitted to any of the other cats I was looking after or my own cats.

My own cats are fully vaccinated and have been since they were kittens, so I knew that if they did get anything, they would just get the odd sneeze and/or a cold, which luckily did not happen.

Being more careful involved ensuring that during their height of cat flu, I had to sanitise my hands and change my clothes in between handling them and the other animals I was caring for.  I also had to be careful with food bowls when cleaning them to ensure that they were fully sanitised and kept separate from the others.

They had to have anti-biotics for a couple of weeks and the kitten with the ulcer had to have drops for longer in addition to the anti-biotics.  The ones with the snuffly noses had to have boiling water in a bowl placed near them once a day so they could breathe in the steam/vapours to clear their noses, which did help.

I was advised if the sneezing got worse, it could potentially develop into rhinitis and whilst the kitten still sneezes, it is not as much as it used to be and no further medication is needed.

They have all fully recovered and are just as happy and playful as when they first arrived.

Once given the all clear, whilst I continue to sanitise my hands after handling them each time as a precaution (as I always do with any cat in my care), as new arrivals are coming all the time, I no longer have to change my clothing when playing with them and handling them.

Unfortunately, the stigma of cat flu is putting off a lot of people from adopting after seeing on the internet that cats could potentially be carriers and/or develop problems later in life. 

However, this is not always the case. 

The kittens and mum are staying in our care longer than necessary due to the perception given around cat flu, which I feel is a real shame as they are all so adorable, playful, affectionate and really missing out on being in a family home.

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