If your feline friend has runny eyes and a stuffy nose, she may have more than just a kitty cold. Over half of all cats carry the feline herpesvirus, which can cause a variety of respiratory symptoms. Luckily, lysine supplements can help keep outbreaks under control.
Understanding Feline Herpes
Feline herpes, also called feline viral rhinopneumonitis or feline rhinovirus, is one of the most common causes of respiratory infections in cats. Almost all cats have been exposed to the herpesvirus. VeterinaryPartner.com estimates that 90 percent of kitty respiratory infections are caused by either the herpesvirus or a similar virus called calicivirus. The main annual vaccine provides protection for the herpesvirus, but most kittens are already carrying the virus before their vaccines even begin.
Symptoms of Feline Herpes Outbreaks
When cats with herpes get stressed or sick, they will often have a herpes outbreak. Usually a kitty with herpes will have a runny nose and eye discharge. She may sneeze and be congested. In more serious outbreaks, she may develop eye ulcers, lose her appetite and develop a fever. Mild cases can usually be managed with good supportive care at home, but more serious outbreaks should be treated under your vet's supervision.
Using Lysine to Manage Herpes
The herpesvirus needs a specific amino acid called arginine to reproduce. Lysine (also known as L-lysine) is also an amino acid, and can be used to "trick" the virus. The herpesvirus tries to use the lysine to reproduce, but it can't replicate as quickly or as efficiently. The Merck Veterinary Manual recommends a dosage of 250 to 500 mg of lysine a day. You can double the dose while your feline friend is having an outbreak. Always consult your vet before giving your kitty lysine supplements or changing her dosage.
Sources of Lysine
Lysine is available is several forms, including powder, pill, gel, paste and treats. The most common way to give your kitty lysine is the powder, which you can add to her food. Lysine treats are tasty and easy, as the dose is already measured out per treat. Check with your vet or local pet supply store for different types of lysine and discuss with your vet which would be best for your pet.