Dear Christopher Cat
I have two questions about the herpes virus that my veterinarian says is responsible for my cat’s upper respiratory infection.
First, is this the same herpes virus that infects humans?
Also, can you explain why my vet prescribed lysine, which I think isn’t a drug, but a food supplement?
The herpes viruses we cats and you humans get differ enough that we can’t infect each other. Feline viruses are as inimitable as cats.
While our herpes virus is unique, it’s quite common -– and in unvaccinated cats, it frequently causes upper respiratory infections that infect the sinuses as well as the eyes.
The herpes virus can’t reproduce without an amino acid called arginine. However, when lysine, another amino acid, is plentiful, the virus absorbs it in place of arginine.
Thus, lysine therapy prevents viral spread, helping the immune system overcome the infection.
However, it’s not effective in every cat, so follow the other recommendations your veterinarian makes to help your cat conquer the upper respiratory infection.