Cat contracts herpes from rescued companion

Investigations

Sarah Megrue was excited to adopt a cat from a local shelter as a companion for her cat Houdini. Megrue didn’t hesitate introducing Houdini to her new cat, Gandhi, assuming he had a clean bill of health.

“I just always assumed that a vaccinated cat was a healthy cat,” she said.

Less than week after bringing Gandhi home, Houdini developed a serious virus.

“He started having trouble breathing and swallowing his saliva,” she explained. “It was tough because you could tell he was in a lot of pain he couldn’t eat or drink. We were giving him water with a syringe,” she added.

Megrue took Houdini to a veterinarian who diagnosed the cat with feline herpes.

The diagnosis came as a shock since the cat have lived happy and healthy in their home for years. Megrue discovered Gandhi, although vaccinated, was a carrier of the disease.

“With that you can be a carrier and have it but no show symptoms so when we adopted the new guy and he seemed fine he was still a carrier and could still spread it.”

She said she didn’t know the risks of introducing her new pet without getting him screened beforehand.

“I wish I would have known that even though you are getting a vaccinated pet they could still carry something if they had it before they brought into the shelter.”

Veterinarian William Marscher says vaccinations are not always effective in preventing disease.

“Some of these vaccines are really effective in stopping disease, some of them are not designed to.”

Dr. Marscher says some vaccines only limit the time the virus is active or reduce the symptoms when the animal gets sick which could pose trouble especially when bringing an adopted pet into a home with other animals.

“You should be cognizant of the fact your pet should be up to date on vaccines, you should talk to your vet about quarantining the new pet that you are bringing in.”

Symptoms that your pet is sharing a virus can include runny eyes, sneezing, and coughing.

Marscher recommends getting both of your pets checked by a veterinarian and using proper introduction techniques.

Megrue says despite her experience, she still believes adoption is the best route for new pets.

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