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Feline Herpes virus and famciclovir

post #1 of 91
Thread Starter 
My cat was diagnosed with feline herpes virus by a veterinary ophthamolgist after a month of worsening eye symptoms. My regular vet wasn't sure what was going on. The opthamologist prescribed oral famciclovir for two weeks and lysine gel. Has anyone had experience with treating herpes keratitis with famciclovir? It doesn't appear to be very effective in the studies I have read. I am hoping someone has had some experience with it.
post #2 of 91
My Meeko has the herpes virusand just started the lysine last week..
I do not know anything about the other med. Meekos med is called Enisyl-F.
I have no idea if it will help or not yet.
post #3 of 91
Welcome to the wonderful world of loving a herpes kitty! My Hannah has herpes, but her's manifests itself in upper respiratory infections, sneezing, and weepy eyes. It's good that you've started your kitty on Lysine. Enisyl is Lysine, btw, just in a different form. I'm sorry I can't help you with your specific question regarding eyes, you might want to join the Yahoo group for Feline Herpes kitties, .
post #4 of 91
I don't know about the medication you have, but my Jordan has feline herpes in his eyes & in upper respiritory tract. This seems to be extreemly common (especially among shelter kitties). I sometimes give him L-Lysine when he appears to be having a flare up. His vet said I can (& probably should) give it to him daily. Once he has had an outbreak it dosen't seem to do much, but I know that it does help to prevent the outbreaks.
post #5 of 91
As you can see by the responses here, most people use Lysine as an ongoing supplement for cats with herpes. I've never used famciclovir, nor have I heard of anyone talk about it here, but realize that its an antiviral medication. Would you mind posting about how effective it is, so that we can learn from your experience?

Lysine is sold in a number of forms - paste, powder and pills. Enisyl-F is primarily Lysine in a paste form that is supposed to be palatable to cats. Pills are huge and hard to administer. Folks that are giving it for long term avoidance typically find a pharmacy grade powder (I buy mine from It acts as an immune booster to help prevent reoccurances of flair ups. Herpes doesn't go away, you just do what you can to prevent it from flairing up.

And it is very hard to diagnose herpes in cats. It has to be in an active stage when the test is run to diagnose it. It's very hit or miss and many vets miss it. My Muddy has never tested positively for it, but we know thru his symptoms and the way his inner lining of his eye is permanently inflamed that he has it.

I would go back to your vet and talk about long term care for herpes. Ask about Lysine, as its the most common treatment offered. The dose is somewhat based on the weight of your cat, and can change from daily maintenance to periods of flair up. What the opthalmologist gave you was to treat the current flair up only.
post #6 of 91
Herpes is now actually very easy to diagnose. Ask your vet (if s/he hasn't already done so) to do the Real PCR/URD test from Idexx. It tests for Herpes as well as several other things. For some reason, many vets don't know of this test and its accuracy.
post #7 of 91
In order to make a very long story short, I can tell you that we have used famcyclovir very successfully. In fact, every time we have a out break, I just get the prescription refilled and life is back to normal in just a couple of days.

Long story - we have been through a list of drugs as long as my arm and 2 surgeries over the last 2 years. I'm happy to report that my little guy is back to having a happy and normal life.

In the beginning he was so sick that the vet talked to us about having him put down or either have his eye removed since he had ulcers on his eyes that would not heal no matter what drugs we tried. We refused to give up and agreed to let the vet experiment with some drugs that had never been used on a cat before.

The famcyclovir took care of the swelling, ulcers and sores on his nose and face but the ulcers on his eyes still would not heal. The vet talked to a human Ophthalmologist who suggested that we try Patanol. It is an eye drop prescribed to humans for itchy, watery eyes. It is fairly expensive $82 for a small bottle but it last more than a month and we were willing to try anything. It scared us to death. We even made an emergency trip to the vet that prescribed the drug because the new drops turned his eye completely red. It looked awful (you can see a picture here They examined him and determined that the eye underneath all that mess looked perfectly healthy. We continued with the eye drops which caused brown tears but as the tears flowed the eye cleared. Now his eye is perfectly clear. He had something that was called plaque appear in one eye after the initial treatment. It looks like white spots that can turn hard and can be painful. The vet just had me increase the number of times a day he got the drops and within a few days the plaque disappeared.

Now we are just on a maintenance schedule of Lysine and Patanol once a day. When he has a flareup, we add famcyclovir and all symptoms disappear again.

Sorry for the long post but we have had such great success with this combination of drugs that I just had to pass it along.
post #8 of 91

I volunteer at a small kitten and cat rescue in the Western NY area and we have an animal eye care specialist in the area. She is fantastic and has helped us save many kitten's eyes when they looked hopelessly damaged by the herpes virus. Famciclovir seems to be the additional drug added when the symptoms are severe. often used with Idoxuridine Drops, Ofloxacin Drops and Azithromycin oral antibiotic if there is an URI infection too. I have even taken a new resident kitten in for enucleation since an eye appeared to be nothing but a puss hole, but upon her exam, she said there is a working eyeball under all of that mess so we need to treat it. This one was very sick and it took more than a month but he has two working eyes now, and just got adopted into a good home. I have found that a lot of the other vets in the area are not familiar with this medicine and how to use it.

post #9 of 91

I know this thread has been going on for a few years but when I searched on the net for famcyclovir of famciclovir there still wasn't too much information on the use with cats.

My girl Arabella has been using this drug very successfully for over 2 years. It basically saved her life and has allowed her to live a normal life.

She has been dealing with herpes virus most of life predominantly upper respiratory and what was diagnosed as Herpatic Dermatitis of her nose by UC Davis (numerous other vets didn't have a clue what the lesions on her nose were). She suffered quite a while from a very sore, irritated from open lesions on her nose. We tried so many ways to heal it.


Then finally we used Famciclovir 125mg three times a day and cured her! Now unfortunately whenever we stopped the drug her sneezing and irritated nose came back so we kept her on a maintenance dose of 250mg once a day. we periodically stop the drug to see if how long before the Herpes symptoms start again - usually within days or weeks. But she has tolerated it very well and has her life back. A happy girl again :)

post #10 of 91

My cat Samson has a compromised immune system, already suffering from what seems to be a distal neuropathy (suffering is the wrong word - he is a happy little guy who just walks on his hocks and elbows and can run, jump, hug and pounce on my other kitty). Through the years he has had occasional signs of feline herpes (sneezing and an irritated eye) which I could treat successfully with L-lysine as I could catch it pretty quickly. The L-lysine I have used is over-the-counter from Vitamin Cottage - 500 mg capsules that I pull apart and add the powder to his food. My vet said I could give up to 2 capsules a day for an outbreak and could actually do periodic dosing with less to keep it at bay (which I have never had to do). Sammy eats the food readily with the lysine as it apparently doesn't taste bad. Recently he had a horrible outbreak of conjunctivitis and I took him to a feline opthalmologist who diagnosed him with early stages eosinophilic keratiis and prescribed prednisolone drops. He reacted badly to those so the specialist put him on cyclosporine and after just two weeks his condition has improved and we are able to have him at this point on the drops just once a week. This vet also prescribed famciclovir in the event that he had a more than routine outbreak of herpes that the lysine might not be as effective in halting. This could occur because the cyclosporine apparently suppresses the immune response that would normally keep the herpes at bay. So far he has only once sneezed and seemed to be on the brink of a herpes bout and lysine did the trick (500 mg for two days). Anyway, I am happy to have to do the cyclosporine drops only once a week for maintenance and only use the famciclovir for a stubborn herpes outbreak. My vet says L-lysine is more effective for some cats than others and I seem to be one of the lucky ones with a kitty who responds well to it if given at first signs. FY, eosinophilic keratitis at the mild end of the range is manageable but as it progresses it is a horrible inflammation that can cause ulceration and blindness so I am relieved to have caught it so early. Hopefully I have conveyed this information accurately - I assume anyone in this sharing group is seeking vet advice for these issues. :-)

post #11 of 91

I am fostering a cat for a local shelter and I've had her for about 9 weeks. She has been sneezing terribly since I got her....I'm talking SNOT ROCKETS! We've tried every antibiotic, did a nasal wash and now the doctor suggested famciclovir, but the shelter didn't have any on hand to give. I offered to fill the prescription, but nearly fell over when Walgreens told me it would be $106! I wanted to share with you that I called around and found it for only $26.00 at Costco and you don't have to be a member to use their pharmacy. I've gotten other expensive medicines there for my pets, so I thought I'd share the information for those of you needing this expensive medicine for your animals. I am off to give my first dose, I sure hope it helps!

post #12 of 91

Since you've tried various antibiotics, you should have a culture and sensitivity test done of the nasal discharge.  That will tell the vet exactly what you're dealing with and which antibiotic will most accurately treat it.

post #13 of 91

My cat has had chronic herpes all of his life and I went out of town for a few days and he had a flare.  When I came home, he had the watery eyes and I felt horrible!  He had pink eye in both eyes but thankfully, no ulcers as of yet.  We are currently on an antibiotic of azithromycin as I have found that it works the best.  I have it compounded and give as a liquid.  We are doing erythromycin eye gel for the eyes and within a couple of days, they look GREAT! 


The vet does want us to start on Famciclovir.  How do you give this pill?  It's so big, I don't know that I can get it in him without him choking.  Any suggestions for that?  We crushed it (although I see you shouldn't do that for humans) and mixed with canned food with a little bit of baby food (chicken and rice) as extra flavoring.  He's not a huge wet food cat.  Weird, right?!  He's not a huge treat eater either.  So I either need it in a syringe or need to break it in half and to give him the pills.  Any thoughts?


I'm so tired of cleaning up snot and ducking when he sneezes.  Poor baby I know he doens't feel good.  We have been dealing with this his whole life and he's now 11 years old.  He sleeps constantly and will play every now and then and he is always on a lap or sleeping where it's warm (even in the summer).  HIs thyroid is normal.  I just want him to live a normal happy life. 


Any thoughts on giving the Famciclovir would be appreciated.  Thanks!

post #14 of 91

I have given the Famciclovir pill pretty easily by breaking it in half - actually my vet's prescription was for half a tablet only. It doesn't seem too big but them my cat is not too bad about having a pill put in his mouth.

post #15 of 91

I got a pill popper at Petsmart to help give my cat her medicine. I cut the famicyclovir in half, pop it in the back of her throat and then quickly squirt a little water in her mouth with another syringe. I know it sounds barbaric, but it gets down her quickly. She is a very mellow cat and doesn't put up much of a fight. I had never thought of doing the water until I was told with another medicine that it had to be taken with 3 mil of water, then it just made sense to me from there on out to always give them a little squirt of water to help them swallow the pill....I know I don't take my pills with out water!!


Anyway, I hope that helps. Good luck!

post #16 of 91

What is the purpose of the famciclovir?  Will your kitty need to be on it for the rest of his/her life?  What other things have you done to help fight the herpes flare ups?  Have you switched to a grain-free diet and introduced L-Lysine to his/her diet?  Have you tried the Eye See Clearly drops?

post #17 of 91

Thank you all for the suggestions.  I have been able to break the pill in half and give it to him.  It's just a pain as we have to do it 3x per day for right now.  StephanieTX, the Famciclovir is for herpes.  He has sneezed his whole life and when he gets an infection, he slings snot everywhere.  Gross, I know.  Now we are dealing with "pink eye".  So we are putting him on the azithromyocin for 10 days and the every other day until gone, he has erythromycin ointment for his eyes for 10 days and then he has the famciclovir indefinately.  He also gets the Viryalis daily as well.  His is just so bad and I honestly think that we have never cleared up one infection completely so another one develops.  I plan on doing the famciclovir for 1 month while we get the infection completely under control.  I'm then going to do a 4 part series of killed virus vaccines to see if that works since the famciclovir is so expensive!  He'll get one shot every other month and they are about $40 every other month vs. the $120 for famciclovir per month.  The vet also suggested that we do a "neti pot-type cleanse" for him.  He'll go under anesthesia and they will clean out his sinus cavities while his head is tilted downward.  I don't know how safe this is, I have to get more information but having this all of his life, he has to still have crap in his sinuses I would think.   He's 11 years old and all he does is sleep.  He's in my lap right now.  I don't know if it's because he doesn't feel well or if it's because that's just how he is at his age.  It's almost like he's depressed but all of his bloodwork is normal.  He hates the meds, but he does take them well.  He knows he will get some treats at the end (I have found that he will eat some Pounce) and last night I forgot to give them to him and he stared a hole in me until I got up and got them.  So he's rewarded for taking his meds.  Doesn't mean he doesn't fight me on them but since we have to do them 3x a day, I want him to know that he does great with them! 


I also had another cat with hyperthyroidism this past summer.  I chose for the radioactive iodine treatment.  He did great.  He goes for his 90 day blood work next week.  Hopefully, if that checks out okay, then we are DONE with that. 


I'm praying that 2013 is a year for healthier cats!

post #18 of 91

I sympathize with you! These issues can be very stressful for both us and our cats. FYI, to treat Sam's occasional conjunctivitis we are using Ofloxacin, which has proven to be really effective.

post #19 of 91
I am caring for a bunch of sick kitties, all with the feline herpes virus. For Famciclovir dosing, I'm chopping up the pills, dividing each into four little piles. Fill a medium syringe with 1 ml of water, moisten my finger, and put in one of the piles (1/4 of a tablet). Add another 0.5 ml or so, shake, and slowly squirt into the side of the cat's mouth. You don't want to go too fast, so it usually takes 4 or 5 squirts to empty the syringe.

They hate it, but it's the best way to guarantee they get the correct amount. Pills can be spit back out, and dosing on the food is so iffy with this many cats around.

For lysine I've been using powder Viralys sprinkled on the food. I figure the lysine dosage is not as critical as the Famciclovir, and I just go a little heavy on the Viralys to make sure each cat gets their share.

Each cat shows different symptoms, but it's mostly the eyes. Right now we're going through a bout of sneezing, so it's spreading. I'm going to go get a filtered circulating water bowl tonight, I don't like them all drinking out of a regular bowl with this much sneezing going on.

I'm not sure how effective the lysine is, but the Famciclovir always seems to clear up the symptoms. Nonetheless they get the lysine every day, and the Famciclovir when the more serious symptoms come up.
Edited by Peter K - 9/23/12 at 4:36pm
post #20 of 91

It's very important the L-Lysine doesn't contain Polyethylene Glycol which is toxic to cats. The L-Lysine tablets sold for humans - even the "100% natural" ones - actually contain it!  I don't see this mentioned in any of the posts.   Check the ingredients on your lysine.  I've been using Viralys oral gel that I get from the vet.  The dose is only 1/8 to 1/4 tsp. 2 X daily.  I just squeeze a little onto my finger and let my cats lick it off,  they seem to like the flavor.  


I have two adorable new arrivals who have been sneezing bloody snot since I got them over two months ago.  The vet suspects it is a Herpes Virus, but I haven't had them tested and he hasn't suggested it.  Other than the sneezing, they appear to be normal healthy happy kittens. I also have a 13 year old I've had since he was a kitten who has never shown any virus symptoms.  He is around the kittens all the time.  There is no way I can keep them separate and I worry that he could catch it. 


The vet suggested trying 35 mg. Famvir for one of the kittens who is under 6 months old and has had some acute sneezing episodes.  Can the 250 mg pill be broken down this small or is it available in a smaller dose?  The vet knows a place that can compound it down, but it's around $70 which I can't afford if this is going to be a long term thing.  


Should they be tested or should I just assume it's Herpes Virus like the vet?  Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

post #21 of 91

My 14-week old kitten (who's never shown any signs of feline herpes) and my two 7-year old cats (who both have been sick with sneezing and eye infections due to feline herpes) take Viralys (one 500 mg rounded scoop) every other day. When I first brought them home from the shelter, all three were on Viralys daily for 30 days.


jlc20m kitty.gif  

post #22 of 91

My senior (16 years old) cat has had eye ulcers for over 6 months now. First, we tried Tobramycin drops and later added Gentak ointment. Her eye ulcers improved, but didn't heal. After doing research, I wondered if she had the herpes virus because 2x a year it seemed as if she had a cold - runny nose, sneezing, crusty eyes and slept a lot. At one point a vet thought she might have allergies. The symptoms seemed to appear when pollen was high in springtime and again during February when mold tends to be higher, so I went along thinking it could be allergies all those years. Last February she appeared to have a "cold" or "allergy flair up" again, but the eye crustiness never got better and instead became much worse. That's when the eye ulcers were discovered. We added Viralys powder to her food and at first she would eat it, then she stopped, so I quit giving it to her because we need her to eat. A couple of weeks ago I took her to an opthamologist who discovered a UTI infection. Vet gave her an antibiotic shot, put her on 250mg of Famciclovir 1x day, and Erythromycin eye ointment. At first she took the pill without trouble, then she became very testy about it. I tried the Viralys again and she tolerated it in her food. Now I am dissolving the  Famclovir in a small amount of water and adding to a small amount of food. She will eat it. She gets the pill in the morning and the other in evening.


In addition, she has hyperthyroidism which has been under control for the past year and stage 2 kidney disease. I realize this is the beginning of the end of a long well lived life. She has gone from 10 pounds to 6-7 in the past 24 months (hence needing her to eat), but her weight has held steady since the thyroid got under control and she has even gained a 1/2 pound back. She seems quite a bit better after the shot for the UTI! 


The eye ulcers remain stubborn, no improvement, but not worse either. What do Eye See Clearly drops do? Has anyone had luck with them in this kind of situation? Also, has anyone else tried the Patanol drops?


CatMom10 seems to have quite a bit of experience with situations similar to mine. I am looking for more ideas. 

post #23 of 91

Our 15 yr old Himalayan male cat Noah has suffered with snotty sneezing, eye infections, lethargy many times over the years. He was usually treated with antibiotic eye drops and oral antibiotics. Last summer while we were on vacation he developed a large sore on his nose and his eye did not respond to the normal treatment but instead worsened and became ulcerated. (yes they get worse under stress of mommy and daddy being gone) Fortunately we had a very capable pet sitter who took him to the vet. He was diagnosed with herpes virus. He was given Tobramycin drops for his eye and Famciclovir 500mg 1/4 tab twice daily. Well Noah was not a pill taker and I didn't know how we could get it down him! Our pet sitter showed me her tricks. She puts the quartered pill in a gel cap that is cut down to size. The gel cap makes it easier to swallow, no nasty pill taste either. Then you get him in a position from behind where he can't get away. She sat with him between her knees but I do it on the counter. Coming from behind, I pry open his mouth and stick the pill so far down the throat he can do nothing but swallow! he hardly knows what happened! I give him lots of love after since he doesn't like treats. The Famciclovir works great for him. I keep a prescription on hand so that I can catch a flair up in the early stages so he doesn't have to get so sick.

post #24 of 91

Hi Noah's mom. How long does it take for the Famciclovir to work? I started my girl on a quarter tab twice daily, and she has had five doses now. I was hopeful that the sneezing would have stopped by now, but she is still sneezing. This is her first bout with herpes. We don't know what brought it on. She's a year old and was rescued as a stray living outside when she was a young kitten.

post #25 of 91

My experience is similar to yours. My cat has eosinophilic keratitis (in remission) related to feline herpes. My feline ophthalmologist recommended the famciclovir as more effective and it seems to work but then so does the l-lysine I have used.

post #26 of 91

hi i was very happy to read your story it is incouraging... my cat has ulcer and congitivite i was prescribe drops but impossible to do, then the gave me famvir , can you give me a trick on how to give the pill without forcing it in her mouth...i tried cruching the pill in her food sometime it works sometime not then in just the juice of the wet food, it works sometimes ...any other idea i could use because they say that stress is a big factor in feline herpes and i'm trying to minimise as much as possible stress...tks for your advise sorry for my mispelling my first language being french

post #27 of 91
Hi gypsie21 and welcome to TCS! wavey.gif

There are quite a few threads here on pilling cats and I'm sure you'll get some ideas.
For eg:

This article is very interesting too:
post #28 of 91
Hi and bienvenu! If you are in France your pharmacist can order Enisyl - mine did, and it has transformed the life of my Wellington. Other forms of Lysine are difficult to get here. Enisyl is a paste and easy to give to a cat.
post #29 of 91

tks for the info ...tried tonight to put her half pill of flamcicovir in her treat of lysine ..because there are moist i separated in half and squeeze it in one part then put the other half of the treat to make one again , gave her 2 lysine treat and then the one with the pill inside and it worked she gooble it without knowing and then gave the last two ....ouff!!!! what an ordile to find the right trick ! she's not a big eater , not even with wet food ...... hope it will work again tomorrow ......

post #30 of 91

Hi, I'm from Itay and I'm desperately looking for other people dealing with the damned feline herpes virus.

My ten-month-old has runny and swallen eyes. We started yesterday a tablet of 125 mg of famvir (very very expensive) and two doses of 500 mg of lysine chewing tablets.

He's letargic, doesn't eat much but is often drinking.

I've also been treating his eyes with acyclovir ointment five times a day for a week, but without any results. Maybe I'll switch to idoxuridine.

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