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Ask the Veterinarian/Risk for new kitten exposed to calicivirus


Hi, I have an indoor house cat that had calicivirus when he was young and I have recently considered getting a new kitten, after my other cat passed away last year.  My concern is that since my current cat is a carrier of calicivirus, would I be putting a new kitten at risk of infection?  My old cat that passed away contracted it several years ago when we brought the infected cat (we did not know he was infected) home as a kitten and she ended up with severe chronic mouth ulcers and a rather low quality of life during her last few years.  I would never want to do that to another cat again, but I also know now that vaccines for calicivirus are available for kittens.  Would a course of vaccines protect a kitten or would it be better to get a little older cat who has had the full round of shots, such as closer to a year old?  Or would it just be best to avoid exposing any more cats to him altogether and let him live out his life as an only cat?

Hi Rachel,

Normally,Calicivirus infected cats will shed the virus in their bodily secretions for 2-3 weeks. Following symptomatic recovery from the disease, about half of all infected cats may develop a carrier state, in which they will continue to shed viral particles intermittently or constantly. In some of these cats the carrier state may only last for a few months, but in a small percentage of cats the carrier state may persist for life. Carrier cats may or may not show any symptoms of infection when they are actively shedding virus particles, and they serve as an important source of infection to susceptible cats.May be your current cat is in this group.

A cat that is a carrier of calicivirus may always be infective to other cats. Cats that are unvaccinated, which are young, or having other underlying problems are more susceptible, and may develop a serious illness. For most strains of calicivirus, adult cats that are more than 3 years old, or cats that have been adequately vaccinated will likely only develop a mild case of illness, which may resolve without treatment.

If you are planning for a new kitten,it is better to abide by a vaccination protocol,which  will be detailed by your vet.At present standard vaccines that are given to cats include immunization against calicivirus and will help reduce the severity of disease and shorten the length of the illness if your cat is exposed. Kittens require several boosters of this vaccine between the ages of 6 and 16 weeks, and at least another booster a year later. After this initial schedule, boosters need to be given on a regular basis every 1-3 years. It is particularly important to give your cat a booster vaccine before he or she is placed in a high risk situation,such as yours.

So if you are very particular about a new cat,your idea of a fully immunized older cat is not a bad option at all.

Wish you all the best

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Dr S Bindu Anand


Large and Small Animal Medicine and Surgery, Farm Management,Preventive medicine


A Senior Veterinary Surgeon with more than 25 years’ experience in the field of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry. Mixed animal Practice that will utilize my skills in medicine and surgery, public health, client relations, and developing relationships within the community, such as humane society

Veterinary Consultant with Department of Animal Resources,Ministry of Environment,State of Qatar (Present). Animal Husbandry Department, Government of Kerala, India. Oakland's Park, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom. Severnside Veterinary Center, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom. Saud Bahwan Group, Sultanate of Oman. Trivandrum Regional Co-operative Milk Producers Union,Kerala,India.

BVSc & AH (Bachelor of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry) 1990. College of Veterinary & Animal Sciences, Mannuthy, Thrissur, Kerala, India under Kerala Agricultural University. Certificates Of Accomplishments- Equine Nutrition- University of Edinburgh Principles of Public Health-University of California, Irvine. AIDS- Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. General Environmental Health – EPHOC-Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health. Food Protection-EPHOC-Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health. Zoonoses:University of Minnesota-School of Public Health online. Food Safety:University of Minnesota-School of Public Health online. Occupational Safety and Health-EPHOC-Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health. Rabies Educator Certified -Global Alliance for Rabies Control. Animal Handler & Vaccinator Educator Certified -Global Alliance for Rabies Control. Wildlife Conservation-United for Wildlife

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