Previous studies have reported that domestic cats can be naturally infected with bovine herpesvirus 4 (BHV4), and experimental inoculations have been linked to feline urolithiasis. It has been difficult to recapitulate initial diagnostic and experimental observations, thus here we have initiated a study to evaluate BHV4 presence in a large cohort of cats at risk for exposure to circulating feline viruses using a sensitive and specific assay. Domestic cat blood DNA samples (n=101) collected from California, Colorado, and Florida were screened for BHV4 using sensitive real time PCR. In contrast to BHV4 containing tissue culture extracts, all domestic cat blood samples were negative for BHV4.
Samples were shown to contain intact DNA and to be infected with other horizontally-transmitted feline infections. We conclude that BHV4 is unlikely to be a common pathogen of domestic cats.