Kitty Cold

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Feline Upper Respiratory Infections

Coughing, sneezing, squinting, oozing, and snorkeling are all possible signs of a cat with a “kitty cold”. What is a kitty cold you might ask? It’s an upper respiratory infection, which is a general term for infection of the nose, sinuses, pharynx, larynx, trachea, and bronchi - what we humans refer to as the common cold. We were all small children once or now may have small children of our own, and so we understand these symptoms well and how they make us feel. (I am pretty sure most of us loved to stay home from school sick. The runny nose was easily compensated for with hot teas and if really lucky, a small present from your favorite aunt.) Cats also experience viral, bacteria or even fungal upper respiratory infections. The question is how do we best care for them?

For young kittens, this is a very common reason to go see your veterinarian. Kittens have a developing immune system and are more susceptible to these infections. They are also more likely to be exposed to other cats perhaps being adopted from shelters, the farm next door, or breeders. Most patients with a cold come to see the veterinarian with nose and eye discharge. They can have fevers and may be lethargic. You can expect the veterinarian to perform a physical exam with their weight and temperature, and then depending how ill they are and what symptoms they are experiencing, they will likely go home with some medication and very importantly, a lot of tender loving care. No, you shouldn’t be making chicken soup at this point (they won’t appreciate the celery), but some warmed up chicken kitten food with a little extra warm water mixed in might just be the thing.

Making sure they are eating and drinking normally is a large part of helping them to heal. Other things you can do as a good kitten owner is to gently keep their nose free of discharge, using saline nasal drops, and to keep them with you in the bathroom during a steam-filled shower to help moisturize the nasal passages and clear congestion. Ask your feline veterinarian for suggestions like these that might help your special friend. Upper respiratory infections occur in adult and geriatric cats too - all of whom can benefit from these therapies. The medications commonly used to treat these patients are topical eye medications or antibiotics to treat bacterial infection. In more serious cases, a patient may need to have anti-viral medications or be hospitalized to correct dehydration. Upper respiratory infections can be very mild (needing time and nursing care) to severe infections that require hospitalization and multiple medications.

As veterinarians, we work every day to help prevent these infections as well as treat them. Regular veterinary examinations and preventative vaccina

Feline Upper Respiratory Infections

Coughing, sneezing, squinting, oozing, and snorkeling are all possible signs of a cat with a “kitty cold”. What is a kitty cold you might ask? It’s an upper respiratory infection, which is a general term for infection of the nose, sinuses, pharynx, larynx, trachea, and bronchi - what we humans refer to as the common cold. We were all small children once or now may have small children of our own, and so we understand these symptoms well and how they make us feel. (I am pretty sure most of us loved to stay home from school sick. The runny nose was easily compensated for with hot teas and if really lucky, a small present from your favorite aunt.) Cats also experience viral, bacteria or even fungal upper respiratory infections. The question is how do we best care for them?

For young kittens, this is a very common reason to go see your veterinarian. Kittens have a developing immune system and are more susceptible to these infections. They are also more likely to be exposed to other cats perhaps being adopted from shelters, the farm next door, or breeders. Most patients with a cold come to see the veterinarian with nose and eye discharge. They can have fevers and may be lethargic. You can expect the veterinarian to perform a physical exam with their weight and temperature, and then depending how ill they are and what symptoms they are experiencing, they will likely go home with some medication and very importantly, a lot of tender loving care. No, you shouldn’t be making chicken soup at this point (they won’t appreciate the celery), but some warmed up chicken kitten food with a little extra warm water mixed in might just be the thing.

Making sure they are eating and drinking normally is a large part of helping them to heal. Other things you can do as a good kitten owner is to gently keep their nose free of discharge, using saline nasal drops, and to keep them with you in the bathroom during a steam-filled shower to help moisturize the nasal passages and clear congestion. Ask your feline veterinarian for suggestions like these that might help your special friend. Upper respiratory infections occur in adult and geriatric cats too - all of whom can benefit from these therapies. The medications commonly used to treat these patients are topical eye medications or antibiotics to treat bacterial infection. In more serious cases, a patient may need to have anti-viral medications or be hospitalized to correct dehydration. Upper respiratory infections can be very mild (needing time and nursing care) to severe infections that require hospitalization and multiple medications.

As veterinarians, we work every day to help prevent these infections as well as treat them. Regular veterinary examinations and preventative vaccinations are the cornerstone of keeping cats healthy and avoiding these types of infections. As kittens, our feline friends receive a series of “kitten” vaccine boosters that help them fight the viruses that can cause upper respiratory symptoms. As adults, felines receive a booster every three years depending on their lifestyle. It is part of the core vaccination protocol for felines. Remember to ask your feline veterinarian what is recommended for your kitty!

tions are the cornerstone of keeping cats healthy and avoiding these types of infections. As kittens, our feline friends receive a series of “kitten” vaccine boosters that help them fight the viruses that can cause upper respiratory symptoms. As adults, felines receive a booster every three years depending on their lifestyle. It is part of the core vaccination protocol for felines. Remember to ask your feline veterinarian what is recommended for your kitty!

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