Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: northern Minnesota
Re: Conjuntivitis/Herpes/URI- please help
Yes, herpes is a lifelong thing. Once a cat contracts herpes (and most cats do at some point), they continue to carry the virus forever. Usually the virus remains dormant, and the cat is seemingly perfectly healthy, but when the cat is stressed, the virus can flare up and cause a cold-like illness again. As you've noticed, herpes can affect the eyes, the upper respiratory system, or both. But it's typically more bothersome than dangerous.
Since herpes is a virus, antibiotics are useless against it. Antibiotics are often prescribed, however, to prevent the cat from developing a secondary bacterial infection while trying to fight off the virus flare up. One thing you can do at home that is often effective at preventing flare ups of herpes-related conjunctivitis is to mix 500 mg of l-Lysine into your cat's food each day. You can buy l-Lysine tablets OTC at any drug store, They're tasteless, so they're easy to crush and mix into some canned cat food.
Like I said, I believe that the vast majority of the feline population has been exposed to and carries herpesvirus. It's that common. The best things you can do for your kitty kids are to provide as stress-free a living environment for them as possible, to feed them excellent quality food, and to maintain routine vet care to keep their bodies healthy. Those are the strategies that will help keep herpes dormant in your household.