The following is complete copy of an article printed in CAT MAGAZINE from May, 1980. The author is Susie Page and the article if from her monthly column “Let’s Talk Cats”. She authored this column for CATS MAGAZINE from 1973 to 1993. She bred Siamese, Burmese, and Russian Blues beginning in 1962. She was a judge for the ACA cat organization for 32 years. She has been the registrar for ACA from 1967-72, and from 1979 to present date. She has written two books: “Let’s Talk Cats” published in 1986, and “Complete Cat Owners Manual” published in 1998 with all color photos done by Chanan. I spoke to her on January 8, 2002 to get her permission to reprint this and to verify the facts listed above. One of the author’s statements to me today was that “the article still holds true today”…Dave at Ragnarok Cattery
By Susie Page from May, 1980 issue of CATS MAGAZINE, pages 14 & 15
You may very well wonder how a germ can be well and still do damage to your cats! I first wrote about the well germs in the December, 1974 issue of CATS and based it on personal experience as well as common sense plus all of the knowledge that many of you have shared with me since I first entered the cat fancy close to twenty years ago.
Suzan Napolitano, Fort Pierce/Florida, wrote me recently and said that she remembered some sort of article on resident virus or house virus, but after scouring all of her copies of CATS (going back to 1960), she couldn’t find the article.
Coincidentally, I brought a new cat in to my house last October (the first time that I added an outside cat to my household in close to ten years). After battling the well germs that she brought with her, and the well germs that she contracted from my own cats for several months, I had just about decided it was time to write about this subject when I received Suzan’s letter!
As all of you know, I am not a vet and I don’t even hold any degrees. All I do is write about what I have read, hear, and experience with my own cats and pass on the experiences that you have had with yours. Thus, I try to avoid using words like virus or any other term that could even remotely be as veterinarian language. That is why I use the rather simplistic words like germs.
Although you will be reading this article in the spring, as I write this I’m aware of the winter months that have brought with them all sorts of germs and left the majority of the population suffering with some sort of a cold and/or flu. This seems to happen each year. In effect, new strains of colds and flu continually appear and although we have built up our individual immune system to ward of earlier versions of these diseases, we have no immunity for the new crop of them every year.
Even during the months of the year when it is not cold or flu season, many of you have probably taken a trip to another town or state and spent most of your vacation coming down with a cold or some form of intestinal ailment. Although many intestinal ailments can be blamed on impure drinking water – or even pure drinking water that is different from that in your hometown – certainly not these ailments can be blamed on water alone!
The explanation is really very simple. You are accustomed to the germs in your own household or town, but have no immunity against the germs in another area! You’ve also probably noticed that when friends come to stay with you, they sometimes become sick (from the well germs in your home) or they make members of your family sick (from the well germs that they shed).
This is exactly what happens with cats. When bringing a kitten or cat into your home, we now know that we should require proof that it has been tested for feline leukemia virus, has all of the shots (which should include panleukopenia, rhinotrachitis, and calicivirus), has been tested for worms and wormed if need be, and come from a house or cattery that is clean, well ventilated, and free of disease. The kit or cat should also arrive with no fleas or signs of flea dirt, not bare spots and no ear mites!
Conversely, when a person sells or places a kitten or cat in a new home, the kit should be tested, immunized, and in the same excellent physical condition as described above.
Why, then, does this kitten – the picture of glowing health – settle right in, eat well, play and purr, and suddenly develop signs of illness?
Because his immune system is NOT immune to the well germs carried by your cats and present in your house. You should actually expect a new addition to develop problems (lack of appetite, sneezing, redness or pus in one eye or both, diarrhea, and so forth) anywhere from a few days all the way up to a couple of months after he has come to live with you. Some kits have such a strong stamina that their system will continue to ward off the well germs for quite a number of weeks or months, whereas others will fall prey to these germs fairly quickly. Knowing this, you should immediately take the cat to your vet for treatment and there is no reason why he shouldn’t respond to medical aid if you are faithful in administering the medication prescribed by your vet, give him lots of tender loving care, keep him warm, and see that he is not subjected to stress.
Don’t every try to medicate him with drugs that you have on hand for your own cats as they may not affect his particular illness and you can lose valuable time and increase the risk of losing him. Take him right to your vet and tell your vet that, although your other cats are well, this one is a new addition.
Again, one the other side of the coin, whenever you sell or place a kit in a new home, warn the new owners that the kitten may sooner or later come down with some sort of illness since he is not used to the well germs in their house and emphasize the importance of taking him immediately to a vet if he should become ill.
I went through quite a battle here in my own home for several months. Although the kit arrived in superb physical condition, with all of the required testing and immunizations, she soon developed redness in her eye, even though her appetite never flagged. Since she was a new addition, I first thought that one of the other cats had clipped her in the eye as cats sometimes do, so I lost a few days in getting her to the vet. By the way, this is a fairly common error even among experienced breeders and most of us assume that kittens have cut each other’s eyes with their claws, when in reality, this redness or pus in just one eye is an early warning signal to us that something is wrong.
No sooner did my vet and I get the new kitten over her ailment, then one by one, all of the other cats in the house came down with one thing after another. Depending upon the individual cat’s stamina and resistance, these symptoms appeared in two weeks in some cats and as long s two months in others. To make matters worse the new cat, who had recovered from her well germ ailment, then came down with still another variety of an illness from the well germs carried by my cats.
I feel as I spent most of the past three months in the vet’s waiting room, but took all of the cats to him repeatedly as some would respond to one medication and others to a different one.
I know bringing in a new cat into a household does not usually mean there will be a battle of the good germs or even any of the problems I experienced but I’m hoping I won’t have the need to add another new bloodline into my home for another ten years. I feel like I will need that long to recover from the past three months.