Feline Ocular Herpes: Hubble's StoryPublished July 20, 2010
It is hard to believe that almost ten years have passed since I received a phone call from a friend - an Oriental Shorthair cat breeder - that completely changed our lives. It came almost two months after a heartbreaking attempt to adopt Izzy, her magnificent, Nationally winning, white Oriental Shorthair Grand Premier spay. So deeply attached to her breeder her skitterish behavior told us she was pining to be reunited with her. After our frustrating efforts to accept us, it became obvious that she was not destined to be our kitty. In Izzy's best interest, we were forced to make the agonizing decision that the breeder needed to keep her forever. We were devastated. Shortly after Izzy's return, my breeder-friend called to tell me she had a white male kitten badly in need of a home. She explained that due to Feline Herpes, he was born with a membrane covering his eye, most of which had been carefully surgically removed by her veterinarian in order to preserve his sight. While he was a beautiful cat, he would never be a candidate for the show-ring. Did we want to adopt him? You bet we did. Three weeks later my friend delivered three month-old "Moon Raker", aka "Hubble", a charming white ball of fluff, and turned him loose in our kitchen. He instantly jumped into my lap, purring as loudly as a diesel truck. Within 15 minutes our other two cats accepted him and began showing him the ropes. We were all exhilarated. For years, Hubble showed no further signs of ocular distress. But shortly after we relocated to Florida, more than likely from the stress of the move, Hubble's eye turned red, started to tear, and he began squinting, indicating discomfort and sensitivity to bright light. Knowing that these symptoms were serious, a visit to a veterinary ophthalmologist was in order. After a thorough examination, he validated my suspicion of a Herpes relapse and immediately prescribed an extensive course of treatment. Much to our relief, several months later, Hubble's eye healed and all symptoms disappeared. We were cautiously optimistic. Feline Ocular Herpes is a tricky disease and can recur without warning. Three years later, Hubble suffered a serious relapse. Dr. Holder, our incredible veterinarian confirmed the diagnosis. In hopes of saving the eye, she prescribed another extensive course of treatment which started with the administration of an anti-viral eye drop 6 times, every 5 minutes for half-an-hour, followed by a drop given every three hours, six times a day, along with an antibiotic drop to prevent a secondary bacterial infection three times a day and 500 mg of L-Lysine an essential amino acid twice a day. Staying close to home was essential. Thankfully I work from home. At first, Hubble appeared to respond beautifully, so after three weeks, his medication was reduced. But several days later, his eye started getting worse. After a visit with a feline veterinary specialist who added additional set of eye drops to the regimen, Hubble immediately responded to my tender ministrations. Within a couple of weeks his eye cleared up, but to assure a complete recovery, he is still receiving anti-viral drops twice a day, L-Lysine powder in his food and regular veterinary follow up. Since Hubble has been carefully and frequently handled since he was a kitten, he is a real "trooper" when it comes to being medicated. He cooperates beautifully and doesn't hide under the bed when it is time for his treatment. We are blessed. Since ocular problems in cats can be serious, it is wise to frequently monitor your cat's eyes. Pay quick attention to any unusual appearance. While runny eyes may signal just a simple allergy which can be easily treated, it is important to seek prompt veterinary attention to rule out any serious conditions. For more information about eye problems in cats, visit cat-health-guide.org Have you ever dealt with eye problems with your cats? Leave a comment and share your experiences.