We have 2 cats, aptly named "Fatty" and "Tiny".

"Fatty" is a 6 year old house cat that hasn't seen the outside world in years.

"Tiny" is a cat we rescued about 45 days ago and she's roughly 2.5 months old.

Tiny came in with what looked like an eye infection, a million fleas and intestinal worms. We kept the cats isolated until Tiny could be seen by a veterinary doctor. She had treatment to kill fleas and worms and we just washed her eye and it cleared quickly.

Soon after Fatty started to develop a cough; the doctor at the clinic said it was some cat flu, probably brought over by Tiny and she got some antibiotics.

If the flu is a virus, I question the antibiotics.. but we went through anyways.

Now we're a month and a half later and Fatty has completely lost her voice and she articulates sounds that are like 'krr'; she is unable to make any normal cat sounds anymore.

The doctor said it may be cat herpes that was introduced by Tiny; if this is the case, she'll never 'speak' again. In the meantime, Tiny is doing very well.

The most striking change is in her behavior; at first she didn't accept Tiny, now they are friends, but she has become slow, uninterested in any form of play, doesn't really purr anymore, doesn't come close to us and walks away when we pet her.

So, my question is: if she had the herpes virus, which is very common in stray cats where we live, can it have any effect on her brain that would explain a huge change in behavior? (her blood test is normal)

1 Answer 1


I'm not aware of any brain changes that would affect her behavior.

What may be happening is that Fatty doesn't feel well, so she's not interested in play or getting pet by you.

The active (symptomatic) time after initial infection starts 2-5 days after exposure and lasts 10-20 days (source). It's not very clear from your question how long it's been since Fatty was exposed to Tiny (because Tiny was isolated, but I'm not sure for how long). If it's been less than 25 days, I would just continue "watchful waiting" (observation). Make sure you pay attention to Fatty's eating and drinking habits during this time as well.

If it's been longer than that, you may want to call your vet. It's possible that the initial infection is over, but the stress of having a new kitten in the house may have induced a flareup of the virus. Your vet will be able to tell if Fatty is experiencing a flare. Over time, you'll learn to recognize the symptoms of a flare yourself (it can be different in different cats), but the first few you may benefit from professional guidance.

  • The isolation was 2-3 days originally, until we could get Tiny checked up and the fleas / worms taken care of.
    – Thomas
    Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 15:48
  • So you mean the virus stays and then stress will cause flare ups?
    – Thomas
    Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 15:49
  • @Thomas yes! I wrote more details about feline herpes in this answer. I've had multiple cats with it, and it's not a big deal.
    – Zaralynda
    Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 15:53

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