Feline herpes virus or eye infection?

by Nicole Eugene

I just adopted a 10 week old kitten and his eye was puffy, red, and watering, which my vet is saying is feline herpes. The people I got him from said it was just a small infection and to get him some antibacterial eye drops.

I had to order the eye drops online and during the long shipping process, he got a fever, so I took him to the vet. The vet says he has feline herpes but no tests were done. The veterinarian also said his breathing is normal.

My kitten has no discharge from his nose, he is eating and drinking water fine, and he has no other symptoms of the herpes virus. I researched it as soon as I got home, I have my kitten on lysine powder as well as some antibiotics and the eye drops.

My kitten is doing better today but my question is, how did my veterinarian decide it was feline herpes virus and not just an eye infection? Is it possible he was misdiagnosed? I feel like it might be an eye infection or something. I have another cat who has been around him for a few weeks now and she is perfectly fine! Wouldn't she have it also if it was herpes?

Dear Nicole,

Thank you for writing in with concern for your cat.

Your veterinarian knew it was feline herpes virus because your veterinarian is smart. In terms of possible feline health conditions that could be causing your kitten's symptoms, at the very top of the list is feline herpes, and the list itself only contains a few possible health problems.

Fortunately, the treatment of feline herpes virus is quite similar to other eye infections. The primary difference in feline herpes virus treatment is adding l-lysine, which is a natural substance that will not adversely effect your kitten, even if the oral antibiotics and eye drops would have been enough to treat your cat's condition.

Your other cat would not necessarily present with the same symptoms as your sick kitty. In fact, 99% of cats have or are carriers of feline herpes virus, and only a few will have symptoms or "flare ups."

Treating your kitten for feline herpes virus aggressively is important, because of all of the possible eye infection problems in such a young kitten, this virus can become quite serious and even result in blindness or loss of your kitten's eyes. So, although the treatment may seem aggressive, your veterinarian was smart to begin your kitten on the regimen she prescribed.

All the best,
Dr. Neely

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