Feline calicivirus infection is a common respiratory disease in cats. The virus attacks the respiratory tract, the mouth, with ulceration of the tongue, the intestines, and the musculoskeletal system. It is highly communicable in unvaccinated cats and is commonly seen in multicat facilities, shelters, poorly ventilated households, and breeding catteries.
Calicivirus is highly contagious, and infected cats can shed viral particles in saliva or secretions from the nose or eyes. Airborne particles can be sprayed several meters through the air by the sneezes of an infected cat. It is speculated that the virus may also be shed in urine or feces, but this is not considered to be a major source of infection. The virus may survive for up to one week in a contaminated environment.
When infection occurs, symptoms present themselves almost immediately. The virus is typically associated with respiratory issues, however other symptoms may be present. These may symptoms include:
- Loss of appetite
- Eye discharge
- Nasal discharge
- Development of ulcers on tongue, hard palate, tip of nose, lips or around claws
- Difficulty breathing after development of pneumonia
- Painful walk
- Bleeding from various sites