Can Cats Get the Herpes Virus & the Calicivirus From Humans?

Your kitty can't catch your cold, and you can't catch his.
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One thing your cat can't catch is your cold. Very few viruses can be passed from one species to another. Cats get colds too, but they are caused by different viruses than the ones that give us colds. Also, the feline herpesvirus is not the same as the human virus. Always consult an experienced veterinarian regarding the health and treatment of your pet.

How Cats Get Calicvirus

Feline calcivirus is one of the most common causes of cat cold symptoms. It also is one of the most contagious cat viruses. It is spread primarily by cats coming into direct contact with the nose or mouth secretions of infected kitties. It has an incubation period of 2 to 10 days before symptoms appear, and it even can be caught from a surface. It can live for a month at room temperature, and even longer in the cold. Typically, the infected cat does not show symptoms, making him a carrier. The most vulnerable kitties are those in shelters, where 25 to 40 percent of them are infected.


Unlike the virus that causes the common cold in humans, there is a vaccine that prevents cats from getting calcivirus. Because it is a virus, the vaccine cannot protect against future strains that may have mutated, and it cannot prevent your cat from bring a carrier of the virus. Still, the Cat Health Guide recommends that all healthy cats get this vaccine. While it is not 100 percent protection, any degree of prevention is good for your cat

How Cats Get Herpesvirus

According to the Cat Health Guide, the feline herpesvirus is the other most common cause of cold symptoms in cats. Like feline calcivirus, it also is caught by coming into contact with an infected kitty and it, too, can live on indoor surfaces. It enters the body through exposure to the cat's eyes, nose or mouth. An infected mother cat also can pass it on to her kittens via nursing.


Like feline calcivirus, there is a vaccine against feline herpes as well. In fact, the Cat Health Guide states, "Current guidelines for vaccination call for all cats to be vaccinated against feline herpesvirus 1." Booster shots every 3 years are recommended for indoor cats. For outdoor cats, the recommendation is once a year. The virus can be killed on surfaces with most disinfectants, detergents and antiseptics. There also is a disinfectant called PuracleenRx, which is formulated specifically to kill viruses. It is available online.

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