Cat Diseases - Upper Respiratory Infection

cat upper respiratory infections
  • A cat’s upper respiratory tract-the nose, throat and sinus area-is susceptible to infections caused by a variety of viruses and bacteria.
  • Viruses are the most common causes of upper respiratory infections (URIs) in cats. Feline calicivirus and feline herpesvirus account for 80 to 90 percent of all contagious upper respiratory problems.
  • These viruses can be transmitted from cat to cat through sneezing, coughing, or while grooming or sharing food and water bowls.
  • Cats often develop bacterial infections secondary to these common viral infections.
  • There are also upper respiratory infections in cats that are primarily caused by bacteria such as Chlamydia and Bordetella.
  • Cats who live in multi-cat households or shelters are most susceptible.
  • Cats that have contracted URI are considered “chronic carriers,” meaning they will carry the virus for life and can become sick again in times of high stress.
Symptoms: cat upper respiratory infections
  • Sneezing
  • Nasal discharge
  • Runny eyes
  • Cough
  • Oral or nasal ulcers
  • Sniffles
  • Fever
  • Hoarse voice
  • Gagging, drooling
  • Loss of or decreased appetite
  • Rapid breathing
  • Keep your cat indoors to minimize the risk of exposure to infected animals.
  • Properly isolate infected cats to protect other pets living in the same environment.
  • Minimize stress.
  • Keep your cat up to date on vaccines as recommended by your vet. Vaccines for upper respiratory disease in cats may not actually prevent infection, but they help lessen the severity of the disease in some cases.
  • Regularly veterinary exams and preventative care can help catch and treat problems early. A cat’s best defense against upper respiratory infection is a healthy immune system.
  • Practice good hygiene and wash your hands thoroughly when handling multiple cats.
  • Treatment of URIs is largely symptomatic and supportive.
  • Antibiotics are indicated to treat secondary bacterial infections.
  • If nasal congestion is severe and breathing is difficult your vet may also suggest steam inhalation or nebulisation.
  • If anorexia is severe your cat may require hospitalisation for your vet to provide food via a feeding tube.
  • Intravenous fluids may also be needed if your cat is not drinking properly, to avoid dehydration.
  • Analgesics may also be required
  • Yummy canned food can be given to help improve your cat’s appetite.
  • General nursing is also essential – discharges from the eyes and nose should be gently wiped away using damp cotton wool, and the cat should be kept warm and comfortable.