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New kitten diagnosed with herpes - need opinions and advice

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
Okay - so Brian and I have been trying to adopt a new kitten for around a month now. He talked to the foster mom today and it turns out that she got so sick and her eye got so bad with conjunctivitis that they were afraid at one point she was going to lose the eye.

Now she's better. Still a little third eyelid showing, but she's still finishing up her meds and she has one more appt with the eye specialist. They say she has reacted very well to the treatment and she's even playing now.

Her sister also got very sick and both little girls were diagnosed with herpes. The foster mom told us that our kitten may never have another flare up but if she does it should be mild.

My question are these...

1. What all does feline herpes entail?

2. Should we even consider bringing a kitten with herpes into our household when we have Anya and she is healthy?

3. If I give them both lysine every day will that be preventative for flare-ups?

We've been down the long haul with this adoption, and truth be told I've only held this kitten in my arms once at this point. But I want to do what's right by her and by Anya.

As a side note the other little girl kitten is being kept by the foster mom. She is not reacting so well to the treatment and they don't know how she's going to do from here on out...
post #2 of 15
All four of my rescue kittens and their mother have Feline Herpes. My understanding is that it's pretty common, especially for any cat that's spent time outdoors.

I can't give you any long-term info (since I've only had them for five months), but I've had everyone on L-Lysine and the kittens have never had even a mild outbreak. Momma kitty, even though she was abandoned and trying to feed her kittens on her own, was fine when I rescued her and fine through the two moves it took to get her to her furrever home. The only outbreak she had was after her spay surgery, but it did take some antibiotics (to prevent secondary infections) and a couple of weeks to get her through it.

I believe that every cat is different and some are more sensitive than others, but I'm sure there are people here who can offer far more info.

I CAN tell you - I wouldn't give these kittens up for anything, feline herpes or not.
post #3 of 15
My Bogart lived to 13 years old and contracted herpes as a kitten. In all the years that he lived with other cats, only 1 other cat contracted it and that was right before he crossed. We had a bad URI sweep thru the house and at the end of it, my Muddy got herpes. Bogart lived with approximately 25 other cats over the years.

It all depends on how bad the case is. Bogart only flared up a few times in his life and usually when he had a URI. Muddy has it very chronically and his eye never looks exactly right on a good day and gets all goopy on a bad one. He is on a permanent maintenance dose of l-lysine and I double the dose when his eye gets bad.

The last time I brought in Muddy to the vets, she gave him drops in his eye and nose to help control flare-ups. Honestly, I haven't noticed a difference since that time. She suggested that I give this to all of my cats but I'm not that concerned about the others. They've been living with Muddy for 4 years now and nobody has gotten it from him.

Every cat will respond differently. The rescue person may be right about it never flaring up again, but then again she could be dead wrong. You are taking a chance if you adopt but in my experience, it's not that great of a risk.

I don't think indoors versus outdoors makes a difference. Both of these cats were permanently indoors and the indoor/outdoor ones have never been affected.
post #4 of 15
Oh I would certainly not let a little thing like Herpes keep you from getting a new kitten. I now have 2 out of 8 with Herpes and it is not even a problem. I understand your concern-trust me i do. When I was first on my own I adopted Melody and after a few months found out that she had "the herp". She was never too friendly with other kitties so I never worried about it much, I figured she would be an only cat! (Silly me ) Then 2 years later I found Uno at a Petsmart and could not resist bringing him home ,but was very concerned as he only has 1 good eye-I sure did not want to damage it by Herpes. Now I am married to a sucker who brings home every stray kitty he finds-god love him! Alley joined us back in November and she too has herpes, but not the ocular kind-she sneezes non stop. I treat them both with 500mg of Lysine daily and really there are no flare ups. Alley is still trying to get under control, but she was just diagnosed a month or so ago. I also treat Melody's flare ups with an antibiotic eye drop for a few days and then she is back on track. Really unless they are extremly close and are licking each others "eye juice" there should not be a problem with your older cat Anya getting it. All of my others have yet to develop "the herp" and they have all been a big happy family now for over a year and a half. Good luck and let us know if and when you get you new kitten-They are fun, we got our newest one 2 weeks ago and man do I love that little guy! Send us pics of her as well!!!!
post #5 of 15
Just doing some research and have found these:
Feline herpes virus is a common cause of eye and upper respiratory infection in cats. Feline herpes virus cannot spread from cats to people or other species of animals, such as dogs. However, herpes virus is highly contagious among cats, passing from infected cats to other cats through sneezing, coughing, grooming, and simply close contact.
Treatment for herpes virus includes antiviral and antibacterial medications. Typically, the therapy includes drops or ointment applied to the eyes of the infected cat.

Vaccination against herpes virus is included in the typical feline vaccination schedule. While this vaccination does not necessarily prevent herpes virus nor can it cure herpes virus, the vaccination does minimize the clinical signs of this disease.
So maybe you can see if Anya is vaccinated against it, and if not, get her vaccinated?


This person says she has a cat with the herpes virus, and her other 2 cats have never caught it from her.

I'll keep researching....

I think you should go and have a look at her again and see what you think. She's absolutely adorable, and she obviously needs a good home and being in the home with other sick kitties isn't going to do her any good.

If you can go see her, just wear old clothes, and do a complete strip and shower as soon as you get home, and throw the clothes straight in the wash so you don't pass any germs on.

You are not a horrible person if you decide not to take her because of her health problems, but she certainly does need a home, and if Anya can get vaccinated, and you see the little girl and still love her, then she's meant to be yours!
post #6 of 15
Thread Starter 
Honestly, with the reading that I'm doing I'm wondering if Anya doesn't already have herpes. She was really sick with a URI when we adopted her and was sick and on anitbiotics for maybe a little over a month. She's had troubles with her left eye ever since.

The vet said it could be a clogged tear duct, but when he checked it when he did her spay it wasn't that. He said her eye was "fine". He didn't test her for herpes that I know of. He gave me a cream for her eye and sent me on my way. She hated the cream and now under the advice of a friend I've been giving Anya Viralys for her eye and am considering switching to L-lysine powder as putting it in her food/water would be easier to administer.

I'm constantly wiping the clear runny tears from her eye every day. She squints it some days more than others. Here's a pic of one of her middle of the road days:

Here's a little older photo and you can see how wet the fur is around that eye from the discharge:

post #7 of 15
FLowerbelle had herpes when we rescued her and brought her home. Unfortunately, it had done so much damage by the time we rescued her - we fought for months to keep her eye, but we eventually had it removed. It hasn't affected her at all, and her energy levels went up a million percent after we had it removed.

If the problem is just conjunctivitis from the herpes, I'm sure the medication will help.

If you add lysine to her diet (it comes in a lot of forms - we use the paste), it helps keep it at bay. The vet said she'd be more prone to colds - but she hasn't had one! None of our other cats have contracted it, and my understanding is that it is very unlikely they will do so. In fact, one of our kitties has a suppressed immune system, and he hasn't had a problem.

We have six cats, and Flowerbelle has been with us for 3 1/2 years.

Flowerbelle this christmas:

FLowerbelle as a kitten when her eye was sewn shut with antibiotics in it:

Flowerbelle as a kitten when we were treating with eye drops:

Flowerbelle after being at the hospital for 2 weeks after being initially rescued:

Flowerbelle a year ago - long after her eye had been removed and healed. It just looks like she's winking in every pic!

Having the eye removed was due to the herpes having progressed so far before we rescued her. (She was never in a shelter).

Herpes is VERY common, and often is never a problem. I wouldn't let it stop you from bringing home a kitty you love and want to adopt!

post #8 of 15
My vet taught me this the last visit: Cats with chronic eye herpes will often have a permanent swelling in the tissue in the eye socket. If you pull down the lower lid and look at the tissue underneath, you can see it. If the swelling is reddish, she will treat it with an eye ointment as it is most likely an infection on top of the herpes. Muddy's tissue was a normal color therefore we just continued on lysine preventive maintenance.
post #9 of 15
I have kitties with feline herpes and it is a virus so unless it's progressed to a bacterial infection in their lungs- antibiotics won't work - they are given as a precaution. Antibiotics kill bacteria - not virus'. On the plus side- I have had GREAT success with homeopathic remedies and L-lysine as a supplement will prevent most purrkids from developing symptoms again. It is breaks down an amino acid that the virus needs to replicate. Many vets are knowledgeable in the dosage and recommend this as well. The l-lysine is very inexpensive and can be put in the water dish and will help keep your baby healthy and off meds. I hope this helps. Sneaks
post #10 of 15
Flowerbelle is lovely : ) - Sneaks
post #11 of 15
See if you can find a homeopath who can help? I use a homeopathic remedy on a purry with chronic herpes that was so bad we thought we'd lose her. She takes it once a month and is wonderfully healthy now. Sneaks
post #12 of 15
its very possible that Anya has herpes too, it is very common especially coming from a shelter. as far as I know there really is no test for feline herpes? I could be wrong there, but I really wouldn't worry about bringing your new kit home, getting her in a safe stable environment will do wonders for her and it is very possible she could never have another break out or if she does, it could be very mild. The L-lysine in their water or food is a very good idea, it helps with general immunity too
post #13 of 15
Originally Posted by emily_325 View Post
My question are these...

1. What all does feline herpes entail?

2. Should we even consider bringing a kitten with herpes into our household when we have Anya and she is healthy?

3. If I give them both lysine every day will that be preventative for flare-ups?
my Pixel has herpes. she was diagnosed about 2 years ago. afaik, none of the others have it - they've never had any symptoms or been diagnosed with it. i put lysine in their water supply to keep Pixel healthy, & use feliway during stressful times as well [stress will sometimes trigger a flare-up]. think of it like human cold sores - it's really very similar to that. i don't think you have to worry about Anya, tho.

eta: BTW - Cable grooms Pixel all the time - still has never shown a symptom.
post #14 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the links and advice guys.

I think that we're going to go visit the kitten again if the foster mom is cooperative.

I think this point what I'm worried about is the current condition of her eye. I can deal with just flare-ups of the virus, and I even haev myself convinced that Anya will be okay, but its being able to afford the surgeries if she may have to lose her eye.

I have some other things going on in my life right now that are causing some stress, and is making me question adding the stress of a family addition as well, but I won't go into that here. We're discussing it and will hopefully be able to come to a decision soon.
post #15 of 15
Originally Posted by katiemae1277 View Post
as far as I know there really is no test for feline herpes?
There is a test but unless the virus is active, it will come out negative. It's very hit or miss. Most vets will look at all the symptoms and diagnose based on those rather than a test. I think it's more obvious when it is in their eyes rather than respiratory system as that can be any type of URI. With the eyes there are clear signs of the disease.
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