Cat pox disease

Cow Pox

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  • DNA virus, first recognized in 1977    .
  • Cause : infection with pox virus.
  • Signs : the primary lesion looks like an unhealing bite. Secondary lesions start as macules and progress to ulcerated papules or nodules often with crusts.
  • Diagnosis : presentation, histopathological examination of biopsy, virus isolation, serology, electronmicroscopy of scab.
  • Treatment : symptomatic only.
  • Prognosis : good unless immunosuppressed.
    Print off the owner factsheet Cat pox    to give to your client.


Clinical signs

  • Skin: cow pox infectionFig.1 Skin: cow pox infection
    A primary lesion is often found, this being the site of the original rodent bite. It is likely to be larger, with more extensive swelling. Cats are most often bitten on the lower front legs or around the face which explains the usual distribution of secondary pox lesions with a variable degree of local spead from this primary lesion   (Fig. 1)  . Can involve tongue and buccal mucosa.
  • Severe lesions can involve areas of necrosis.
  • Sloughed plaques   →   granulating tissue.
  • Pruritus can be seen.
  • Occasional mild upper respiratory signs (conjunctivitis, nasal discharge).
  • Dyspnea associated with pneumonia in severe cases.
  • Pyrexia.


Differential diagnosis

  • Other causes of pneumonia.



  • Good - most cases recover spontaneously.
  • Poor if immunosuppressed.

Expected response to treatment

  • Scabbing of lesions and no development of new lesions.
  • Improving demeanor.
  • Usually recover within 1-2 weeks from the appearance of secondary pox lesions.
  • With more severe lesions healing will be further prolonged.

Reasons for treatment failure

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