Feline calicivirus

Feline calicivirus: causes, symptoms and treatments

Feline calicivirus (FCV) is a condition of the upper respiratory tract that causes flu-like symptoms in cats and kittens. Infection with FCV ranges from mild to severe, and infected cats can go on to develop potentially serious complications such as pneumonia.

Is my cat at risk of calicivirus?

FCV is a relatively common virus that can affect cats of all ages, genders and breeds, though young kittens and cats with a weakened immune system are most at risk.

Like many infections, calicivirus can get into your cat’s body through the eyes, nose or mouth, often through direct contact with an infected cat or environment.

It’s possible for a cat to suffer from feline calicivirus more than once – even if they’ve previously been vaccinated against it.

Identifying the signs and symptoms of feline calicivirus

Different strains of FCV cause different symptoms, the most common of which include:

  • Fever
  • Mild conjunctivitis
  • Ulcers on the mouth and tongue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sneezing
  • Lethargy
  • Depression

“Infection with FCV ranges from mild to severe, and infected cats can go on to develop potentially serious complications such as pneumonia.”

Can I prevent my cat from getting feline calicivirus?

The most effective way to reduce the risk of calicivirus in your cat is to speak to your vet about regular vaccination. Kittens can start FCV vaccinations from around nine weeks old, with booster injections being due every year once the initial course of vaccinations is completed.

Other steps include:

  • Keep food and water bowls inside your home, where other cats can’t come into contact with them
  • Always wash your hands thoroughly after touching your cat
  • If you’re thinking of introducing a new cat to your home, choose one that has no history of respiratory disease
  • If you believe your cat to be carrying calicivirus, keep your pet isolated for at least 30 days

How is feline calicivirus treated?

Treatment for FCV may include antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medication and decongestants, all of which can help your cat to feel better while their immune system tackles the virus. Your vet will recommend a course of treatment suitable for the seriousness of the condition and your cat’s general health.

Want advice on calicivirus in cats?

For advice, diagnosis and treatment of feline calicivirus, contact your local vet. To find your nearest recommended vet or pet clinic, use our Find a Vet page.