If your cat leaves the home it is vulnerable to Feline Herpes Virus Type One, otherwise known as FHV. Lysine is often promoted as an effective preventative remedy and treatment for FHV but it comes with a host of side effects and, more to the point, has been proven to be ineffective.
However, there are good alternatives that will help protect your cat by boosting her immune system and better manage the symptoms of FHV. In this article we will look at five good alternatives.
So, in no particular order here are five good alternatives to lysine to help protect your cat against FHV.
1 – Famciclovir
You wouldn’t perhaps imagine that an antiviral drug for human use would be effective for felines but Famciclovir, an antiviral drug prescribed for herpes simplex and zoster, has proved reasonably effective in treating feline herpes.
Famciclovir is not FDA-approved for use in cats or any other animals however it has been demonstrably effective in reducing respiratory and ocular symptoms related to FHV. It also reduces the risk of any permanent damage to tissues around the nasal and sinus by inhibiting DNA polymerase and, therefore, preventing viral replication.
Like Lysine, Famciclovir does have side effects and you should be aware of them before giving your cat Famciclovir. It can often induce nausea, diarrhea and vomiting for example. In more severe cases it can also cause your cat to become feverish.
Famciclovir is excreted through breast milk and passes through the placenta so you definitely shouldn’t give it to pregnant or nursing cats, unless your vet says otherwise, because it can be quite toxic to young kittens.
2 – Probiotics
We’ve all seen the adverts telling us how probiotics are good for us and can keep us healthy but did you know they’re also good for your cat?
Probiotics are actually living microorganisms. They help restore gut flora, boost the immune system and generally improve health.
There are all different types of probiotics and they can all help protect your cat’s health to some degree but the ones that have proved helpful with the symptoms of FHV are SF68 and Fortiflora. These have been demonstrated to lower the incidents of conjunctivitis and rhinitis outbreaks which are both linked to FHV infection.
Both of these probiotics are well tolerated and usually have little or no side effects. Of course, you should always be mindful that every cat is different and keep an eye out for side effects like vomiting, diarrhea and potentially allergic reactions to the probiotics. Such side effects are rare but that is not to say they can’t happen.
3 – Bovine Lactoferrin
Bovine lactoferrin, as the name suggests, comes from cow’s milk. It is a protein that is found in colostrum, which the nursing mother produces in the first few days after she gives birth. Basically, it is a fluid full of antibodies and has numerous anti-inflammatory benefits.
There is some evidence that bovine lactoferrin is effective in treating the symptoms of FHV and improving related respiratory conditions. Instead of this being a replacement for Lysine as such, it is more commonly used in conjunction with Lysine. This seems to improve results.
Generally speaking, bovine lactoferrin can improve your cat’s overall immunity to all manner of infections. It can also help prevent other common viral infections like influenza and gastroenteritis.
The only time your cat is likely to suffer side effects using bovine lactoferrin is if she is lactose intolerant perhaps. In that case, she might start suffering from diarrhea or occasional vomiting. Again, keep an eye out for such side effects.
4 – Thymus Extract
Both humans and animals have a small gland known as the thymus. It places an important role in our immune response to infections.
Thymus extract is either synthetically produced or actually taken from a cow’s thymus gland. It can help with respiratory infections, autoimmune diseases and even food allergies. Many cat owners report how effective thymus extract has been in treating their pets’ runny eyes, sneezing and other such symptoms associated with FHV.
As an added bonus there is little or no reports of any known side effects thymus extract. That’s not to say that there can’t be, you should always keep a watchful eye over your cat when you are administering any form of medication but, actually, thymus extracted is rather well tolerated by cats.
5 – Changes In Lifestyle
Cats, like humans, benefit from living a healthy lifestyle. That includes eating a healthy diet, getting plenty of exercise and plenty of playtime stimulation.
The diet is the foundation of all other lifestyle changes because nutrition plays a key role in maintaining your cat’s immune system and keeping them in good health. Make sure you feed your cat a healthy, balanced diet and make sure you don’t overfeed them.
Most modern cat foods contain the right nutritional balance for your cat’s diet and there is no need for additional supplementation. However, if you do wish to add pet vitamins to your kitty’s diet then consider adding vitamins C, D and K as these all help to boost their immune system.
Keep Your Kitty Safe
FHV is a potentially debilitating condition for your cat. It can cause lasting damage to the eyes, nasal and sinus tissues, and skin. At the very least, it can be highly unpleasant for your pet. At worst, it can start affecting their whole wellbeing.
Lysine for cats has been used to treat FHV for many years but it has been proven to be ineffective. The alternatives you have learned about in this article, in contrast, are all support with some evidence, anecdotal and otherwise.
Don’t diagnose FHV yourself. Always take your pet to a qualified veterinary surgeon and have them confirm your suspicions. Talk to them about interventions they may recommend and ask them about some of the alternatives above.
Whichever remedies you may choose to give your pet, always keep a watchful eye on them. At the first sign of negative side effects stop giving your cat the remedy and contact a vet to discuss other interventions and remedies that may be possible.