How to Treat a Cat Virus With Lysine

Treat a Cat Virus With Lysine
Treat a Cat Virus With Lysine (Image: Bethney Foster)

One of the most common viruses in cats is herpes, which is different than the herpes viruses that infect humans. People can't catch herpes from their cats. The first and only symptom you usually will see if your cat or kitten has herpes is conjunctivitis, an inflammation of the eye. Symptoms occasionally include sneezing and mouth ulcers. Lysine, an essential amino acid found in proteins, has been used to treat herpes symptoms in cats. It's given twice daily in 500 milligram doses for adult cats and 250 milligram doses for kittens.

Things You'll Need

  • Veterinarian's diagnosis
  • Large, heavy bath towel
  • Warm, wet washcloth
  • Veterinary topical antibiotic
  • 250-500 milligram Lysine pill
  • Pill crusher (optional)
  • Moist cat food or tuna fish (optional)

Unfold a heavy, large bath towel and place it on the floor or on a table.

Place cat in the center of the towel.

Wrap the towel around your cat as if you are wrapping it inside a burrito. Be sure the front paws are securely wrapped. The cat will use its claws as weapons if it doesn't agree with this treatment. Leave only the cat's face and head free of the towel.

Take a warm, wet washcloth and gently wipe mucus from the infected eye, using gentle wipes and blots until the eye area is clean.

Using your thumb and forefinger to gently open the eye once the mucus is removed.

Apply a veterinary topical antibiotic solution to the eye. Ensure that the solution is prescribed for ophthalmic purposes.

Place the cat in the crook of your right elbow while it's still secured with the bath towel. If you are left-handed, place the cat in the crook of your left elbow.

Place the lysine pill in your left hand (or your right hand if you are left-handed).

With your right hand (left hand if you are left-handed) take the cat by the cheeks and lift its nose to the ceiling. The cat's mouth will naturally fall open slightly when its nose is lifted in this way.

Use a finger on your left hand (right hand if left-handed) to open the cat's lower jaw.

Place the lysine pill as far back into the cat's mouth as possible.

Let go of your cat's face and watch for it to lick its lips, which usually means it has swallowed the pill.

Tips & Warnings

  • Some cats are resistant to taking pills. If your cat proves to be one of these, your best option is to buy a pill crusher for a few dollars at a drugstore. Crush the lysine pill and place it in some highly palpable moist cat food or in tuna.
  • Lysine is also available in a flavored gel designed specifically to appeal to cats' taste buds.
  • Get a diagnosis from your veterinarian if you believe your cat has herpes virus. The veterinarian will likely prescribe additional medications along with lysine to treat the virus. In severe cases of herpes virus in cats, and especially in kittens, the eye can rupture and this can cause permanent blindness.
  • When purchasing lysine for your cat, ensure that the product you buy is free of the preservative propylene glycol, which can destroy blood cells in cats.
  • A month of treatment is required to determine if lysine is helping your cat.

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