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Cat Flu from an Holistic Breeders Perspective
You know, Cat Flu is one of those things that cat breeders will very rarely ever mention – even (especially) amongst each other. It is usually a case of either ignorance or denial. If your new kitten starts sneezing and you ask the breeder why, you will possibly get: “Oh, it must be an allergy” or “I don’t have Cat Flu in my cattery”.
There is such a negativity against infectious cat viruses, but I think that it does need to be brought out into the open, so pet cat owners and breeders also are able to find resolutions.
I have over the years received hundreds of emails from cat breeders all round the world asking for help with cat flu symptoms. It is the single most common problems with cat health in recent times. Most cats are carrying Cat Flu type viruses, having been exposed as kittens or young cats.
In a naturally health animal, these upper respiratory infections are relatively self-limiting, just as a cold or flu virus in a human.
And like the human cold-sore virus, usually remain dormant after the initial infection is over. Flare-ups may occur when the cat is under stress or the immune system is otherwise weakened.
In my experience, vaccinated cats often have the worse cases of cat flu and more often than not become carriers for life. Cat flu is caused by a virus and vaccines do not work against viruses. Vaccines also damage the immune system so it is not able to function in the correct manner.
Unless a cat has a very severe case of cat flu (in which case you should seek immediate professional advice) there are some things that you can do at home to help relieve the symptoms until the immune system kicks in and fights off the infections:
- If the eyes are watery or swollen, keep them clean by bathing with a mild saline solution
- Provide warmth and humidity to help with breathing
- Inhaling of a natural salt solution can give a dramatic benefit, as it cleans infection out of the nose and respiratory system, and even right down into the lungs. If you have a nebulizer, you can use a “Sole” solution for the cat to inhale. I use and recommend Himalayan Salt for this Sole solution (and almost any other thing that goes wrong – I love it!)
- Keep the cat well hydrated if he is not eating or drinking. You can gently syringe a broth made from meat and bones. Add a few drops of the Himalayan Salt Sole, around 5 drops to each 20ml of liquid. The salt works absolute wonders for hydration, besides providing essential minerals
- High doses of Vitamin C, which is just plain ascorbic acid is excellent, but can be somewhat difficult to get into the cat because of it’s very bitter taste. Cats of course make their own Vitamin C, but when sick more will always be of benefit. The rule of thumb here is to “dose to bowel tolerance” – so if you notice it is causing diarrhea, then cut back a bit
- Vitamin C and any other additives can be put into an empty capsule and given to the cat by mouth
- Supplement of L-Lysine, an amino acid, is often used by breeders to help with Cat Flu. I have never used it as a supplement so cannot testify as to it’s efficacy.
Our Experience with a Case of Cat Flu:
One of my stud boys caught an upper respiratory infection at the age of around one year old. Where he caught it from I have no idea, as he had never been off my property and there had been no coming and going of my other cats in the month or two preceding – so no exposure there. I can only assume that a neighborhood cat (of which I have only ever seen one or two around here) decided to do some sneezing near him!
He had been raw-fed since a kitten and having been bred by me – he was of course un-vaccinated, (although both his parents were fully vaccinated). However, this was before I started using URI Nosodes as a preventative. Had he been given the URI Nosodes prophalactically, I would think his symptoms could possibly have been less severe.
Initially I gave him a homeopathic remedy I individually selected for him, and he improved, but for only a few hours. I then administered the same remedy again but the improvement lasted only an hour. This meant I was not giving the correct remedy – so I emailed a Homeopath that I was then using. Given the time difference, by the time I got the reply, he had deteriorated to the point where his nose was almost blocked, so I brought him into the house and set him up in my bedroom.
I turned on my column oil heater and placed a bowl of water with a Himalayan Salt Solution (sole) in it, on the top of the heater to provide humidity. He had at this stage stopped eating and was quite sick, quite blocked and sneezing frequently.
I was syringing feeding him liquids, bathing and cleaning his eyes and nose frequently to keep them clear. And also giving him high doses of oral Vitamin C (plain ascorbic acid) which is something I swear by, along with a few other supplements I keep in my “bag of tricks”.
I persevered for a couple of days but I couldn’t see much improvement, until I was just getting ready to head off to the vet. Well, he must have heard me phoning them for the appointment, because exactly at that point he had a complete turn-around and starting gobbling up some food, never to look back.
He totally recovered very quickly. And he has not had a recurrence, no sign of URI or even one single sneeze ever since. I believe that if I had gotten to the vet and given him anti-biotics, he most likely would have gone on to become a carrier of that particular upper respiratory infection virus.
It was clear to me after this that sometimes, we just need to have faith that the immune system is dealing with any infection. And as long as the infection is not overly severe or life-threatening, good supportive care is the best option – in my opinion. Upper respiratory infections are normally a self-limiting disease, just like when a human catches the flu.
BUT ALWAYS make sure to closely monitor any sick cat and be prepared for a quick trip to the vet if medical intervention is required.
IMPORTANT: If your cat or kitten has a weak immune system and the cat flu symptoms are severe, do not procrastinate with seeking treatment! URI symptoms can be on occasion become fatal – especially in young kittens, and veterinary treatment may be necessary.