Signs and Symptoms of Feline Herpesvirus

Common symptoms of FHV-1 infection include the following:

  • Coughing
  • Fever (up to 106°F or 41°C)
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss (anorexia)
  • Runny nose (rhinitis)
  • Sneezing attacks
  • Runny eyes

Anorexia results from an inability to smell, loss of appetite, fever, and general malaise. It is one of the more severe symptoms of rhinotracheitis and usually requires assisted feeding.

Most cats infected with FHV-1 have runny eyes due to conjunctivitis and/or ulcerative keratitis. Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the thin, transparent membrane that lines the eyelid. The inflammation leads to discharge, swelling, and pain; the cat's eyes may be red and weepy. Conjunctivitis can be caused by a number of underlying conditions.

Ulcerative keratitis is inflammation and ulceration of the cornea, the transparent front portion of the eye that gathers light rays and directs them into the eye. Ulcerations on the cornea can cause a serious threat to an animal's eyesight. In addition to discharge from the eye, signs of corneal ulcers include squinting, turning away from light, obvious discomfort, and pawing at the eyes.

Feline Herpesvirus Infection during Pregnancy

Though rhinotracheitis primarily affects the upper respiratory tract, it can also cause complications during pregnancy, including

  • bacterial pneumonia in young kittens,
  • sickly newborn kittens, and
  • spontaneous abortion.

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at

Published: 01 Mar 2001

Last Modified: 16 Dec 2014