Living with Herpes

Wait, what? Yup, you read that title correctly: LIVING WITH HERPES. Feline Herpes, that is.


Sneezing, watery eyes, runny nose, + congestion … kitty got a cold? Maybe, but if the symptoms are persistent and/or reoccurring – it could be feline herpes, also known as feline viral rhinopneumonitis (FVR), rhinotracheitis virus and/or feline herpesvirus type 1 (FHV-1). Feline herpes is one of the most common causes of upper respiratory infections in cats. And MANY (most???) cats are exposed to this virus at some point in their lives.

 The laundry list of symptoms:

  • Sneezing “attacks”
  • Discharge from the nose and eyes
  • Congestion
  • Squinting
  • Conjunctivitis or pink eye (inflammation of the eyelid)
  • Lesions in and around the eyes
  • Eye ulcers
  • Appetite loss
  • Fever
  • Depression
  • Drooling
  • Lethargy

The worse part? Kitties weakened by the virus may also develop secondary infections.

The herpes virus grows in nose, eyes, sinus, throat, mouth, and tonsils of a cat. This can cause inflammation and fever. Infections in the nasal discharge affect the sense of smell, causing the appetite to fade. Loss of appetite is scary in all cats, it is especially concerning in kittens where anorexia and dehydration can be life-threatening.

How do cats contract herpes?

The most common way for the virus to spread is through contact with discharge from an infected cat’s eyes, mouth or nose. Common activities like sharing litter boxes, food and water dishes with an infected cat can lead to the spread of the virus. An infected pregnant cat might pass the virus on to kittens in utero. Because the virus is highly contagious, it is common in catteries, shelters and multi-cat households.

Some cats who become infected with feline herpes are latent carriers. Even though they will never display symptoms, they can still pass the virus on to other cats. Stress can cause these carriers to “shed” the virus, exhibiting mild symptoms, which clear up on their own after a few days.

So, what does this mean for you?

Aside from giving your herpes kitty some extra attention, good food and the occasional course of anti-biotics … you will:

  • use lots of tissues to wipe up her boogers,
  • clean your windows way more than a “normal” person will,
  • not get freaked out when your cat sneezes a big one on your book, hand, shirt or face,
  • you will buy L-lysine in bulk, and
  • probably give her a cute nick-name like “sniffer cat” ;)

And now for some of the more technical/medical questions

Which cats are more susceptible to the herpes virus?

Cats of all sizes, ages, and breeds are susceptible to feline herpes. However, cats in crowded or stressful conditions or with weak immune systems often develop more severe symptoms, as can kittens, Persians, and other flat-face breeds.

Can humans, dogs, or other animals contract herpes from a cat?

No. Humans, dogs, and other animals are not at risk for catching feline herpes.  Likewise, cats cannot catch the strains of herpes that humans carry.

How is feline herpes diagnosed?

Diagnosis can be challenging, and is often based on a combination of symptoms, health history and lab tests. If symptoms of feline herpes are noticed/suspected, a veterinarian should be consulted. The same symptoms may point to calcivirus, which causes upper respiratory disease as well.

The veterinarian cant take a blood sample for testing with a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test. However, the test can be negative even if the cat is infected, so further testing may be needed.

My cat has the feline herpes – what can I do?

Once infected, the majority of cats do not get rid of the virus. However, symptoms can be treated. Veterinarians may prescribe oral antibiotics or antiviral medications to help ease symptoms, and drops or creams may be used for conjunctivitis or other eye irritations. With medication, good nutrition, supplements, and tender loving care, most cats can make a successful recovery.

Conjunctivitis and corneal ulcers are treated with topical antibiotics for secondary bacterial infection. L-lysine has been recommended anecdotally to suppress viral replication.A more recent study supports the use of L-lysine for treatment of ocular signs of FHV-1 infection.

Any cat developing an upper respiratory infection should be under veterinary supervision. A brief exam by a veterinarian will help to determine if your cat requires medication, has a fever,or is dehydrated. If a cat is just sneezing, but is otherwise acting normally, no treatment will likely be needed. However, if a cat begins to show nasal discharge, loss or appetite or other symptoms, there is evidence of a secondary bacterial infection and cause for starting antibiotics.

Please do not administer any medication to your cat unless you’ve discussed it with your veterinarian.

How can I reduce flare-ups?

Reduce stress! The virus reactivates with stress so a low-stress environment is helpful in reducing flare-ups. Your cat can be put under stress by any sudden change in his (or your) daily routine, by a sudden change in environment (new house, new roommate, new kids!) or even loud noises.

How Can I Help My Infected Cat Feel Better?

  • Frequently clean his eyes (discharge may dry, creating a hard, uncomfortable crust).
  • A humidifier in the cat’s environment or time in a steamy bathroom can help the congestion.
  • Create a calm, restful home for your cat.
  • Make sure your cat is regularly eating and drinking water. Some cats may require supportive feeding.

Getting rid of the Virus:

Most household disinfectants will inactivate FHV-1. The virus can survive up to 18 hours in a damp environment, but less in a dry environment and only shortly as an aerosol.


The Princess and the Kitten

When we rescued “Jessica Rabbit” we had no idea she would be the co-star of a book! Diagnosed with Spina Bifida, it took a very special family to be the perfect match for our little bunny-hopper.

Check out Soot’s journey through the eyes of her adopter and her very special little Princess:

The Pricess and the Kitten

Jessica Rabbit


Raising Hope

This fall we were overwhelmed with the abandonment of 10 kittens at two separate adoption days. As a rescue group, with limited foster space, these events can be very hard to manage. Add malnourished, flea-ridden and then ringworm and it’s more like a disaster. In September, the seven-pack of Gallagher, Mischa, Brody, Natalie, Pedro, Nicole and Alvaro were abandoned in a cloth laundry bin. In November, Aja, Kasey, and Trixie were abandoned in the vestibule of our adoption center’s retail store.

Gallagher, Mischa, Brody, Aja, Kasey, and Trixie were vetted and quickly nursed back to health. They are all doing well in their wonderful forever homes.

Natalie, Pedro, Nicole, and Alvaro spent months in an amazing foster home – recovering from anemia, upper respiratory, eye infections and ringworm. Just before Christmas, Natalie & Pedro were adopted together!

Natalie & Pedro

Natalie & Pedro

That leaves us with our special pair: Nicole & Alvaro. Early on, a veterinarian told us that Nicole would very likely lose an eye … and none of us disagreed (it was REALLY awful looking). Alvaro crashed on us three separate times but syringe feeding, a heating pad and committed fosters saved him. It really was touch-and-go several times with these kittens.

Nicole & Alvaro 9/17

Nicole & Alvaro – September 2013

But, finally after 4.5 months of crazy medical and foster care, they are ready for adoption!

And in raising Nicole & Alvaro, we have raised hope for many homeless cats and kittens. So much is possible with a little extra care, comfort and of course your generous donations. What we do is literally not possible without your help!

Thank you for supporting us so that we can save these precious animals!

Nicole & Alvaro

Nicole & Alvaro – February 2014


Chili’s Give Back Night

Chili’s loves us!

Eat and drink all day (11am – 11pm) on Thursday, February 27, 2014 at Chili’s in North Brunswick, and 10% of the sales will be donated back to us! All you have to do is print and bring this flyer with you.

Print this flyer!

Print this flyer!

Up, Down, Up, Down, UP!

I live in a land of lists. Adopted animals, adoptable animals, TNR locations & requests, animals that need to be spayed/neutered, things to do, people to call/email, donations, expenses, pros, cons, ups and downs …

When looking back on any time period, I tend to categorize events so that I can try to make sense of the history. 2013 was a roller coaster and the big events are highlighted here (click the image to enlarge):

2013 eventsThis year started out with extreme sadness for our group, when Gilda suddenly passed away. I think her absence is still felt during adoption hours at PetSmart. But, we had to push on – little Nicholas was rescued during a TNR project and we were able to save his life with a $3,000 urinary tract surgery. Then we had our first “triple adoption” of the year: Ginger, Herald and Sally!

Paws for Celebration

Kandy was the poster cat for PfC 2013

One of the big highlights of the year was when Kandy (FeLV/FIV positive) was adopted (March)! Grace was tested for allergies – with rice determined as the biggest culprit. Paws for Celebration was held in April and garnered rave reviews – the 2014 event will be held on Friday, May 16 featuring music by 45 Riots. Another $3,000 surgery was needed in May – this time for Tommy Lee. And in June, we struggled to get the “hoarder cats” healthy and friendly so they could be up for adoption – Oz & Xander (bonded brothers) and Faith are still waiting for their forever homes.

But, back to the “ups”: the Sidewalk Angels Foundation surprised us with a $10,000 grant in July and the North Brunswick Humane Association gave us a $1,000 spay/neuter grant in August. Dean + Farrington had the majority of their teeth removed in August. Quickly following that news was the awesome adoptions of long-time resident, Jill, and our very first Zen Dog, Zen! Later in September, we got slammed with seven very ill kittens that were abandoned in front of our PetSmart in a laundry basket (with three more abandoned several weeks later). Six of the ten have found forever homes. Winnie had an eye removed due to a massive infection when she was a baby-kitten.

In October, super senior Farrington was adopted – he was one of Gilda’s fosters! Casino Night was a big success and the Rabbits Den Tattoo Parlor honored us during their annual Halloween tattoo event! We gave up our Edgebrook adoption space due to too many schedule conflicts – but we hope to add a new adoption space in 2014! And, recently, Jessica Rabbit was diagnosed with Spina Bifida and Robin was diagnosed with mega-colon.



Up, down, up, down, UP:

However, we end 2013 on a very high note: Bubba-C was adopted! Our sweet boy had seen three other homes before this one but we are very confident that THIS is the perfect place for him!




121 cats/kittens and 1 dog were adopted out in 2013!

Adopted 2013

We have 32 cats/kittens available for adoption:

Available Cats

So many struggles (“downs”) are thrown at us each year, but we always keep our eyes on the victories (“ups”) so we don’t get discouraged and lose sight of the ultimate goal: making as much of a difference as possible in the lives of homeless and abandoned animals.

We are looking forward to many more “ups” in 2014 – please join us! Our work is made possible by all our volunteers, donors and adopters!!

  1. Adopt or Foster
  2. Volunteer
  3. Donate
  4. Like, comment, and share our adoption posts on Facebook.
  5. Retweet and favorite our Tweets on Twitter.
  6. Subscribe to our email updates.
  7. Read and share our blog posts.

Happy New Year,

Christie and Everyone at Karma Cat + Zen Dog Rescue Society!

Engineers + Cats, Part 2.0

As anyone that has to live with an engineer knows, we are compelled to figure out how things work. All the time.

Our cats are not excluded from this character flaw trait. But lucky for everyone, Paul & TJ have expanded their “Engineer’s Guide to Cats” Series with version 2.0!

Learn about Aspect Ratio Drift, Post Modern Deconstruction Art, Gravity-based Activities, CISCIS, Cat Yodeling and Cat Energy Production Techniques.

And if this wasn’t enough of Paul & TJ, here’s the video of TJ adopting his first cat!!

20 Holiday Gifts For Cat + Dog Lovers

The holiday season is well underway, which means warm memories, lots of cuddling with furry friends, and gift giving–oh yes–lots of gift giving! Whether you still need stocking stuffers, Secret Santa presents, or even a little something for yourself, you will be sure to find a gift for every type of animal lover here. Get your Christmas list ready! It’s time to cross off the naughty and get gifts for the “mice”. ;)

1. How To Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting To Kill You - $14.99
A delightful array of cat comics, facts, and instructional guides for every kitty lover. Pick up the #1 New York Times Best Selling book HERE.

2. Pet Food, Treats, and Supplies via
Deliver pet necessities straight to a friend’s door! Pssst – if it’s your first order, they’ll donate $20 to us. :) Visit HERE.

3. Merrick Chews
Pig ears, wafers, and snozzles–oh my! Merrick Chews are natural, delicious, and raw hide-free, perfect for a friend who loves to pamper his or her pups. Buy HERE.

4. Cat Tao Glasses – Set of Four – $35.00
Got milk? These cute drinking cups include four clever “kitty wisdoms” that will enlighten any cat owner. Purchase HERE.

5. Dachshund Black Scratcher and Cat Bed – $19.00
Does your friend’s cat want to exact revenge on the family dog? Well, here’s a solution! A cat scratcher made from 100% post-consumer recycled paper, catnip, and soy-based inks–this two-in-one is sure to please both owner and cat alike! Check out the item HERE.

6. Da Bird Cat Toy – $7.99 and up
Da Bird is a high quality, durable, interactive toy that cats just LOVE. If you have not witnessed first hand a cat’s reaction to Da Bird, then you have no idea what you are in for! A single bob of Da Bird is completely irresistible to cats. Set on a swivel, its feathers look, sound, and feel like real bird wings. Its the most fun you’ll have with your feline friends! Check out the item HERE.

7. Cat or Dog Necklace – $28
Like a delightful sketch from a grade school notebook, these playful dog and cat necklaces by artist Mark Poulin offer pet lovers a fresh and youthful way to express their dedication. Handmade in Oakland, California, with a sterling silver pendant strung on a nylon coated stainless steel cord with a sterling silver clasp. Sold individually. Check out the item HERE.

8. Raised Dog Feeder – $8.99 and up
Raised Dog Feeder
Veterinarians recommend elevated dog feeders for a variety of reasons: maintenance of healthy posture, reduction of ingested air, to aid in digestion, and in reducing stress on neck and back muscles as your pet eats. These raised feeders are a boon to bigger breeds, dogs with a propensity for back or neck problems, or older dogs. Check some out HERE.

9. KCZD Swag – $5.50 and up
From clothing to home goods to tech accessories, CafePress offers a wide-range of products personalized with the logo of yours truly! Give your friends, family, or fellow volunteers, a gift that shows your (or their) dedication towards Karma Cat + Zen Dog. :) Purchase HERE.

10. Personalized Dog Photo Album – $14.99
Looking for something memorable? This photo album from Things Remembered displays whimsical doggie imagery. Finish it off with a personal engraved message, and it’ll be the perfect gift! Check it out HERE.

11. New Year Cats Cards 5pk – $12.00
Who can resist cats in costumes? Wish your friends a Happy “Mew” Year with these greeting cards. Buy HERE.

12. Dog Mom Pillow – $34.99
Every female who calls her pup her “baby” needs one of these in her home! With phrases like “hog the bed” and “caring for you is a privilege”, this pillow from Dog is Good speaks volumes. Check it out HERE.

13. The Field Guide to Famous Felines – $28.00
This 18″x24″ print is a hand-illustrated field guide with 79 famous cats and kitties from books, TV, movies, cartoons, comics, and more! It will be a great centerpiece in every cat lovers’ home. Pop Chart Lab provides framing options as well. Grab one HERE.

14. Bulldog Bottle Stopper – $11.50
If you’re going to a holiday party and still not sure what to get the dog-loving host or hostess, pick up one of these. Playful and charming, it’ll certainly be put to good use! Buy at Pottery Barn HERE.

15. Dropcam – $149.99 and up
Many supporters have thanked us for preoccupying them with countless hours of fun by watching the Dropcam live stream of our kitties on the Karma Cat + Zen Dog homepage. Perfect for pet lovers of all kinds, Dropcam gives a 107 degree field of view and 4x zoom in sharp 720p HD video. You can finally drop in on your pets throughout the day while you’re at work! Check it out HERE.

16. Dog Biscuit Treat Maker Kit – $29.99
Store-bought dog treats normally have more sugar, coloring, and preservatives than we have fingers to count them! With this kit, your friend or family member will be able to channel the baker inside them and start whipping up delicious, homemade cookies for the dog. This set includes the treat maker, storage bin, decorating kit, six doggie biscuit cutters, and recipe book (ingredients not included). Buy HERE.

17. Dry Erase Dog Decal – $11.99
Do you know someone who always needs a reminder? Get him or her this fun peel-and-stick dry erase decal to jot down to-do lists! It’s approximately 11″x16″, with 14 breeds to choose from. Pick up a few HERE, while they are still on sale.

18. All You Need is Love and a Cat Box Sign - $5.95
A heartfelt message for cat lovers everywhere, this 5″x2.5″ wood box sign will sit happily on any shelf, mantle, or desk. Buy HERE.

19. Donation
If purchasing gifts isn’t your thing, you can always donate to a cause in the name of the receiver to give a gift that keeps giving. FYI: Karma Cat + Zen Dog is listed on HERE. :)

20. Adopt a Kitty!
The holidays is one of the biggest seasons of the year when people buy dogs and cats at pet stores, supporting puppy mills, unethical stores, and inhumane practices, while leaving many other suitable, nursed back to health pets without owners. If you are planning to add a new furry friend to the family, please adopt, don’t shop. We have kitties of all breeds, sizes, and ages looking for a second chance at a forever home. Visit PetFinder and Adopt-a-Pet, for more information on adoptables. We also post foster updates, fun pictures, and more on our Facebook and Twitter. We invite you to drop by during Adoption Hours, every Saturday and Sunday 11am-3:30pm, to meet a potential new family member.

Happy Holidays!

Hustle and Bustle

There are many times in our lives when we are stressed out – running around like crazy people trying to get everything done. The “holiday season” is surely a great example.

But, we aren’t the only ones feeling the effects of our packed schedules and long to-do lists – our pets can get stressed out due to our stress!

For your own health, and the well-being of your animals, here are a few tips to help everyone “take it down a notch” this season:

  • Take 5 minutes to breathe. Sip a cup of tea and give your kitty an extra cuddle. Take your dog for that extra lap around the block. Your heart, mind and beloved pet will thank you!
  • Find your sanctuary, and invite your pet(s). Create a quiet space in your home away from guests. Add a special bed for your animal(s) so they can hide from the holiday parties and events. For cats, consider putting an extra litter box in this room to provide a true hide-away.
  • Stick to your schedule (as insane as it might be). Feed, walk and water your pets at their usual times. They really are creatures of habit and will appreciate this so much.
Take a walk!

Take a walk!

And now for a few things to remember as you rush through those tedious to-do tasks:

  • Don’t leave bags, ribbons or scissors out after a marathon wrapping session. Cats (and dogs) can get stuck in bags, sick from eating ribbons or cut from sharp scissors.
  • Avoid giving your pets sugary or fatty treats from the people table. Sure, they will beg but like all the other times of the year, the majority of these items are bad for their bellies.
  • Move all those pretty, live plants out of reach – even if the plants are thought to be non-toxic, no one wants to clean up green vomit from an over-zealous chewer.

Take some time to relax!

Images courtesy of Michelle Arlotta Photography