Fur-less tail

by Debbie
(Manteno, IL)

One of our 4 week old kittens has been losing fur on it's tail, and the tail is "knobby"; tip seems to have "dried-up"; occasional slight bleeding - otherwise, seems healthy....

ANSWER: At such a young age its difficult thinking what type of accident the kitty could have had. What you describe sounds like the tail has somehow been injured. Something could have fallen on it; kitty’s mother may have accidentally done something, somehow it got pulled, etc. This kitty is so young that I doubt its tail got caught in a door, or a drawer, but strange things can happen.

The tail consists of a number of vertebrae, voluntary muscle, all held together with ligaments and tendon. Unfortunately, injuries to the tail can cause serious nerve damage. Since the tail contains vertebrae leading from the spine, it’s possible for these vertebrae to become broken and for sensation in the tail to be lost. The tail is not a nerve supplied area so he wouldn’t have much pain. What you refer to as “knobby” could be where a serious injury or break has happened and the “dried-up” tip could be dead tissue. The trauma to the tail led to loss of blood supply, which then led to the decomposition of soft tissue in the area and the loss of fur that you have noticed.

The best thing to do right now is get your kitty examined by a veterinarian as soon as possible. He probably needs oral feline medication and antibiotics to treat the tail wound. It may be possible that he will need to have a portion of the tail amputated to prevent further complications. I hope all works out for your kitty.

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Is their hope that my cats don't have FHV?

by Morgan

Will a kitten with Feline Herpes Virus eyes suddenly clear up completely and look good? Is this a sign that it doesn't have the virus?

And if a cat has one pink eye but everything else is good then is it likely she doesn't have FHV?

I'm hoping that they don't have any viruses. The kittens eyes are clear and he eats and drinks but he wheezes a lot. And my other cats got one pink eye but I'm treating that too.


Unfortunately, there is no cure for feline herpes virus (FHV). Once a cat is infected it has the virus for life. However, during the initial infection, the kitten usually shows most of the signs of an upper respiratory infection including sneezing, nasal discharge and sometimes a lowered appetite. Signs can also be present with the eyes ranging from runny eyes, swelling to squinting….as well as conjunctivitis (pink eye). Most kittens are able to recover from this type of infection and may never show signs again but the virus will remain in their system in a latent state. So although your kitten’s eyes have cleared, if it had FHV then it still has it. About 80% of FHV infected cats become latent carriers with a 45% chance of viral re-activation. Even if a cat doesn’t show any signs of the virus, it can pass the virus on to other cats through the mouth, nose or eye fluids as well as in litter boxes and food and water dishes.

FHV can hide quietly in your cat’s nerve cells and is kept impotent by the immune system. During times of stress the immune system is overworked so the virus is able to escape and can be re-activated. The most common stressful events are a new animal brought into the household, the cat is moved to a new household, illness, or boarding the cat while you go on vacation etc. Anything that changes the normal routine of your cat can permit viral re-activation. Topical and systemic antiviral medications can control FHV but they cannot eliminate the virus from your cat’s body Sometimes surgery is required to repair the damage done by the virus most often involving the eyes.

An adult cat that has FHV can have recurring conjunctivitis in times of stress. Typical signs include squinting in one eye, noticeable eye discharge and redness of the conjunctivae. The conjunctivae membranes of the eye are the pink part under the eyelids and the lining of the eyelids themselves. When they are irritated they get red and itchy causing discomfort. The cornea can become involved in the inflammation, become cloudy or even ulcerated and tear production can be reduced leading to even more discomfort with the dry eye.

So to answer your question, yes, a cat can have one pink eye and be healthy in other areas and yet have FHV. Have you been to a veterinarian to get them diagnosed? A typical physical exam along with your animal’s history may be enough for your vet to perform in-house tests to determine if your cat has FHV. There is also a technique used to illuminate either viruses or their antibodies in a tissue or culture using a fluorescent dye called immunofluorescence that can be performed. There is also a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test that can be used to look for an agent of the virus in a cat’s DNA. Your vet will get a swab of your cat’s throat and send it to the lab to test for the virus.

The symptoms of feline herpes virus are similar to others for example Calicivirus which differs by causing ulcers in the mouth, whereas Feline herpes virus causes ulcers in the eye. FHV has a number of treatments available that your veterinarian will discuss with you but to give you a general idea:

  • Topical antiviral eyedrops are available that act directly against FHV. Idoxuridine (no longer available commercially and must be obtained from a compounding pharmacy); Viroptic (trifluorothymidine ) which is supposed to be used for a minimum of three weeks or longer. At some point the virus is handled by the immune system and the clinical signs disappear ; Vira-A (vidarabine) and Betadine. These medicines are fairly expensive and require dosing 5 times a day. If the cornea is involved in the infection, this is a good indication that antiviral medications are needed. Acyclovir is an oral antiviral that may be used to control FHV as is Cidovovir.
  • Topical antibiotics are only helpful in controlling secondary bacterial invaders and that is not enough to make the cat comfortable until the virus goes dormant.
  • Oral Interferon alpha is an inexpensive oral solution that uses a natural immune system modulator to suppress FHV symptoms. Although interferon use has not been scientifically tested it has been in use for many years as something that seems to help shorten the course of infection. FHV cells are inhibited much more easily by antiviral drugs if they are used along with interferon. Interferon has no side effects potential at the doses used and there is no reason not to try it because it may help.
  • Oral Lysine is has been successful. L-lysine (an amino acid that is a protein building block) works to prevent future attacks in some cats. FHV is dependent on an amino acid called arginine. Without arginine, a herpes virus cannot reproduce. The amino acid lysine is taken up by the virus instead of arginine and by saturating the virus with lysine it therefore suppresses the virus’s ability to replicate. L-lysine can be purchased over-the-counter at GNC and other nutrition stores. Make sure that the formula used is free of the preservative propylene glycol because cats can have blood reactions against this compound. The dose for a cat is 500mg orally daily with food. The food helps because it sometimes causes vomiting if given on an empty stomach. It is available in tablet, capsule, fish-flavored powder to mix with food and an oral paste. It is not usually effective as the only treatment during an active infection and is best used in combination with other antiviral treatments or for long-term use to reduce recurrences. Ensiyl-F is an L-lysine supplement formulated especially for veterinary use. The dial-a-dose syringe makes it easier to administer (especially if you have trouble dosing a cat with pills like I do) and the paste is supposed to taste great to cats.
  • Atropine may be used to control pain in the eye. It will dilate the pupil in the treated eyes and create some light sensitivity, but it can help with the pain.

  • Your best resource is your veterinarian but while the symptoms exist keep your cat in an area or cage where humidity and oxygen can ease breathing. Coax your cat to eat and drink to keep hydrated and healthy. Keep nasal passages cleared with items such as Children’s Afrin nose drops put into alternating nostrils once a day for no more than five days. Treat ulcers and infections of the eyes with appropriate medications. Also talk to your vet about vaccinating your cat even though it is already infected. It won’t cure your cat but it will help minimize the symptoms. Remember that drugs only inhibit the virus and don’t kill it.

    I truly hope that this information has been helpful to make your understand what FHV is. It sounds like your cats are going to recover and go into the latent stage but you can help them by talking to your veterinarian and providing some of the drug solutions on the market. Good luck with your felines.

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    by hayley gouge

    can the fip virus live on without a host ie on bedding toys etc if so for how long and can dogs carry the virus.


    The FIP virus can live in the environment for several weeks. However, it can be easily killed with common household disinfectants like bleach. Do stick to bleach disinfectants, as pine based ones are toxic to cats. Vacuum as often as possible to reduce the number of contaminated cat litter particles.

    The virus is mainly shed in feces, where it survives for 1-2 months and in saliva where it survives for a few days. So far there is no evidence that it can be present in tears or urine. In natural circumstances, cats go outside to defecate and bury their feces, in which case the virus lasts hours to days (it survives longer in freezing conditions). In litter boxes the virus can live for several days and possibly up to 7 weeks in dried up feces that aren’t removed. Please bear in mind that cat litter, especially non-clumping litter, can facilitate the spread of the virus by microscopic particles on shoes, poop scoops, etc. So you have to thoroughly disinfect all areas.

    Now regarding a dog carrying the virus, although there is a canine coronavirus, the short answer to this question is probably no. The University of Glasgow veterinary department found that it must be present in the cat for the virus to arise and in research when they tested any dogs within survey households, only once did they find a dog with antibodies to the coronavirus. Also on this site (I’m quoting) they said that although FIP had been incurable, now, with the introduction of feline interferon omega (Virbagen Omega by Virvac) in parts of Europe they are seeing some cases enter remission and others being cured. In the summer of 2009, an exciting paper appeared by Prof. Al Legendre of Tennessee Veterinary School in the Journal Feline Medicine and Surgery reporting the cure of 3 cases of non-effusive (dry) FIP using Polyprenyl Immunostimulant from Sass & Sass. This paper is a hopeful pilot study and they look forward to controlled clinical studies. Unfortunately, Polyprenyl Immunostimulant does not work on effusive (wet) FIP cases.

    I hope that I have answered your questions. If you lost an animal to FIP, I also hope you find it encouraging to see that steps are starting to be taken to find a cure.

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    how to awake cat

    by islam

    my cat was anesthesiated for surgery and for more than 14 hours he didnt wake... he tries to eat or drink but he can not i think because he cant use his tongue and mouth how can i help him???


    14 hours without eating or drinking while recovering from anesthesia is not uncommon. Some cats will have difficulty swallowing for several days because of irritation down the throat where the tube delivering the anesthetic was placed (if that was the delivery method). Soft cat food with water added to thin it may be needed for several days while the throat recovers. You may have to gently spoon feed him until he feels better. Some additional information is:

    You didn’t say what age your cat is and older cats and obese cats are slower to recover from anesthesia. Most general anesthetics are very fat soluble so the greater the amount of body fat and the longer the animal is anesthetized the greater amount of anesthetic agent that will be absorbed into body fat. Anesthetic taken up by body fat will seep back into the cat’s blood for days or even weeks after anesthesia. This low amount of anesthetic may continue to affect a pet’s behavior for several days. Plus, the cat’s ability to control its body temperature may be affected during the recovery period. Many blood vessels in the skin dilate after anesthesia and that results in heat loss. It is necessary to keep the animal warm to speed the recovery.

    Another factor is whether your cat had a mask with gas, a tracheal tube, injection or intravenous delivery of the anesthesia. Prior to surgery your veterinarian should have done a pre-operative blood screen which would have indicated if there was a problem with the heart or liver etc. This precaution is not a guarantee because some medical problems like cardiomyopathy will not show up on a blood panel but it can help your veterinarian to determine which is the best anesthetic or combination of anesthetics for your particular cat and whether other precautions such as heart monitoring and/or oxygen assistance should be added for additional safety.

    A cat is generally given a sedative or tranquilizer before the anesthetic to help calm the animal before introduction of the mask or tube. A common inhalant drug is isofluorane which is considered safe, particularly with older cats or cats with additional medical problems. There is no such thing as the perfect anesthetic and there is always potential for risk with any of them. General anesthesia is often begun after a sedative calms the cat. As soon as the cat loses consciousness, a soft plastic tube (endotracheal tube) is inserted into the windpipe and is connected to an anesthesia machine which then delivers the oxygen and other gases. At completion of the surgery, the concentration of the anesthetic is reduced and the cat slowly regains consciousness. When the pet regains its swallowing reflexes, the tube (or mask) is removed and the cat is monitored until it is fully conscious.

    During the recovery period the cat is normally given a pain relief medication. Once the pet is able to stand and walk, very small amounts of food and water can be offered every several hours. Some pets are nauseous after anesthesia, and may not want to eat or drink for several hours or overnight. If fluids have been given during the surgery, fasting for a short period of time shouldn’t hurt the cat.

    However,if your cat will not eat or drink 24 hours after the surgery, notify your veterinarian who did the surgery because follow-up care is needed. It gets dangerous when a cat doesn’t eat for several days because of liver issues unique to cats. Also, if your cat is in pain it is not going to feel like eating, so your vet will need to provide pain medication.

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    Feline virus - how fragile?

    by Gloria JH

    Buddy and his door window

    Buddy and his door window

    "The virus is fragile and usually dies within 5 minutes of exposure to outside air. Even so, play it safe and always thoroughly wash and dry your hands after petting an unfamiliar cat."

    Please identify your resource for this information.

    We have a multi-cat household. The last addition was "Buddy" - who tested positive for FeLV. He has been confined to our guest room since August 2010.

    I need to know how thorough I must be - i.e. how to wash my hands, what forms of antiseptic I could use on my hands, etc, etc.

    Now, if the virus lasts only 5 minutes after leaving Buddy's body - then maybe my hands, or clothing aren't so dangerous to our other cats.

    I've had incidences when I've touched the other cats before I've been able to wash properly - this is why I'm trying to find reliable sources that will aide in my care of Buddy and keeping the other cats safe.



    A few years ago an article sponsored by the American Association of Feline Practitioners, stated that the virus is fragile and usually dies within 5 minutes of exposure to outside air, but like anything else where a cure is being researched other information comes to light. So, recently a paper written by Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine says it survives longer, but less than 2 hours in a dry environment and up to 2 days in a wet environment like litter. I have amended the information on the website to reflect the results of this new paper. However, I have found that there are so many conflicting beliefs between different veterinarians and different schools of veterinary medicine that it’s a balancing act keeping up with changes. Thank you for your question because I was able to review it and find the new article.

    The main way Felv is spread is through a cat to cat transfer via saliva, nasal secretions, urine, feces, blood and mother’s milk. Hence cat to cat transfers of the virus may occur during mutual grooming, from a bite wound and (less commonly) through the shared use of litter boxes and feeding dishes. Since you are keeping “Buddy” isolated from the other cats and not allowing the sharing of litter or dishes, you are wisely keeping the risks of transmission to a minimum. Also, there are a number of good antibacterial soaps, some even waterless like those used in hospitals. Alcohol based, they kill the germs and dry quickly. There are a lot of brands out there such as Purell and we find that if we keep one in each room it’s fast to give a quick squirt into your hands and it’s pretty much evaporated by the time you get to the next room. With five cats you never know if one of them is hiding the fact that she’s getting sick so it’s just a precaution.

    Good Luck with Buddy, I think it’s wonderful that you are making his life as pleasant as possible while keeping the others safe.

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