Sneezing, nasal discharge, coughing, fever, or the sniffles - just like us, cats too can catch colds! Known as feline upper respiratory disease, and generally quite common, the majority of these conditions are caused by the herpesvirus and calicivirus.
Most feline colds last about seven to ten days and are generally not serious, usually spread by wet sneezes. Even with treatment, however, the virus never truly leaves your cat’s system, making it possible for the sickness to recur. Some upper respiratory diseases can be serious and may lead to pneumonia if not closely monitored.
If your cat is exhibiting any of the following, it’s time to schedule a visit with your local Banfield veterinarian:
Excessive sneezing Excessive coughing Discharge from nose or eyes Painful ulcers on the eyes, nose, or in the mouth Fever Loss of appetite Dehydration Congestion with open-mouth breathing
If ulcers are present, your veterinarian may take cultures from your cat’s mouth, throat, or nose to be examined for a definitive diagnosis. Although antibiotics don’t fight off viruses, most feline upper respiratory infections are treated with anti-bacterial medications to avoid any potential complications due to secondary bacteria taking advantage of your pet’s weakened immune system. Oral medications, eye ointments, medications meant to stimulate your cat’s immune system, and other medications that interfere with the herpesvirus reproduction may also be prescribed to help combat the virus.
A vaccine is available to help fight against upper respiratory infections, and it has been added to the basic distemper injectable vaccine in a combination injection.