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upper respiratory infection- cats

Posted by newhomeseeker (My Page) on
Mon, Nov 16, 09 at 13:43

I'm volunteering at a shelter for cats. They have over 100 cats there currently. Recently some have been coming down with an upper respiratory infection (they keep them in rooms and the ones that are on meds are kept in cages in each room). They have staff use hand sanitizer each time they go to a different room but I'm concerned about bringing home any type of illness to my own cats. I spent the weekend sanitizing and cleaning cages at the shelter and washing bedding. Most of the cats are not sick and the ones who are, are sneezing and started to get watery eyes. I try to avoid the sick ones (I don't have to clean out their cages) When I go home I take a shower, immediately put my clothes in the washer and leave the shoes I wore there outside. Will my cats contract this illness just from me being around other sick cats? I am going to ask my vet on wednesday when I bring two of my kittens in for shots but I wanted to some info ahead of time.

I am scheduled to volunteer again this saturday - should I cancel and avoid the place while there is an infection there? I have NINE cats at home (some are fosters) so it is very important that none come down with anything becasue it would be very expensive and difficult to quarantine any of them. Thanks!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: upper respiratory infection- cats

Unfortunately there's usually always cases of URI in shelters so I don't think you'll avoid it by canceling this weekend.

Sounds like you're doing everything you can to prevent bringing it into your home. When I volunteered, we had to step into a pan of anti-bacterial solution before entering and leaving the cat rooms. You could set up something similar at home for your shoes, or better yet, change shoes before driving home so it doesn't spread from your car mat to your other shoes.
One other thing you could do is to carry your own box of disposable gloves to use while changing cages/litter pans.


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RE: upper respiratory infection- cats

Thanks for the suggestion about changing my shoes before I leave. I never thought of my car's floor mats nad transmitting the virus to other shoes. I read online that the hand sanitizer that most shelters use does not kill the common viruses that cause the URIs. I'm also suprised they don't use bleach to disinfect not even for the dishes and cat litter pans and scoops.


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RE: upper respiratory infection- cats

Bleach is a disinfectant but it's not the best to use in every case. According to a site on the use of bleach, it states "Bleach is inactivated by the presence of organic matter such as dirt, blood, and excrement". Because of that, it's not the ideal cleaner for litter pans or food dishes where organic matter is still present.

Plus, bleach is very corrosive to metals (cages) and plays havoc when it gets on your clothes!
I wouldn't judge them by what you've read online regarding shelters and their use of hand sanitizer. Find out what they're using........ you may be able to suggest something that works better. I'm sure they'd appreciate any help they can get!

Meghane or someone else can correct me, but I'm pretty sure most viruses are airborne, so that's why it's so difficult to control in shelters.

Below is a link to one of the disinfectants they could be using.

Here is a link that might be useful: Envirocide


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RE: upper respiratory infection- cats

As long as your cats are vaccinated appropriately it shouldn't be a problem. The most common causes of URI in cats are viral in origin, and part of any regular feline vaccine protocol.


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RE: upper respiratory infection- cats

Meghane, sorry for such a dumb question but what vaccinations are appropriate. All of my cats were vaccinated as kittens and they receive annnual vaccinations for rabies and feline leukemia (my vet said they only need this until they are about 3 years old as they build up an immunity) I'm not sure if they are vaccinated against anything else. Took two kittens to the vet yesterday for their 2nd set of shots and one kitten was found to have campylobacter and the vet sent a vet tech in to explain the results to me. I asked if this bacteria was contagious to humans (I knew it was) and the vet tech told me no, it was species specific. I asked her to check on that because last year my now year old cat had campylobacter and the vet told me to be very careful because it can be passed to people. The vet tech came back and appologized and said yes it was zoological? and I was right. She gave me a short sheet on campylobacertious and sent me home with panacur and an antibiotic. Did not tell me to quarantine my kitten though (and I have 8 other cats in the house right now).


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RE: upper respiratory infection- cats

I don't personally give the FeLV vaccine at all unless the cat has definite risk factors such as being outside or being in a household where Mom does rescue work and brings in unknown FeLV-status cats into the household without quarrantine. I don't vaccinate cats for FeLV after age 3 either, unless the cat also has FIV.

The vaccines I was talking about are the FVRCP combination- feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, and panleukopenia. Viral rhinotracheitis (caused by herpesvirus) and calicivirus are the most common viral causes of URI in cats.

While "campy: is contagious, it is hard to get it unless you eat cat poop, which most people don't do. And of course, immunocompromised people are more at risk, as are those with very poor hygiene. Cats get it from other cats the same way- they eat infected cat poop. But it is more likely that some campy in the litterbox gets transferred to the next kitty's feet, then cleaned off.


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RE: upper respiratory infection- cats

I unfortunately have had campylobacter--got mine from eating something before the eggs in it had cooked. Taught me not to eat anything with un- or under-cooked eggs (no more licking the brownie bowl, eating cookie dough, etc!).


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RE: upper respiratory infection- cats

Thanks to everyone for replying. Meghane, I will check with my vet about the FVRCP combo. It sounds familiar I'm not positive. I'm sure that is exactly how the other kittens aquired the bacteria. I clean the litter boxes three times a day but during the hours we are at work (8-5) the kittens are kept in a bedroom with two large litter boxes and sometimes they don't cover up their feces all the way and it gets tracked around.

What causes the campylobacter in the first place? Is it just an overgrowth of bacteria that is already in the system? I'm asking because last year I had a kitten who had the same thing.


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