Understanding Feline Sneezing and Upper Respiratory Infection

Generally characterized by feline sneezing, upper respiratory infections in cats are very common. The symptoms and severity of illness may vary, but upper respiratory infections should be promptly treated to prevent secondary infections and spread to other animals.

Symptoms that May Accompany Feline Sneezing

Symptoms of a typical upper respiratory infection in a cat don't stop at sneezing. Your feline might also experience fever, runny nose, irritated eyes, dehydration, increased drooling, and anorexia.

Your cat may appear to have a dirty nose as a consequence of an upper respiratory infection. This is caused by a combination of moisture and the environment. Dirt will stick to your cat's nose after being licked. You can clean this off easily.

Each respiratory infection may add more symptoms to the list, so bear in mind that things like the presence of corneal ulcers may be indicative of specific infections. Note the additional symptoms before visiting your vet in order to make the most precise diagnosis quickly.

Severity of Infection

Upper respiratory infections range in severity and frequency. Some coughs may be caused by an acute infection, which occurs once, is cured, and doesn't appear again unless re-infected. Most infections, thankfully, are acute.

Chronic conditions will stay with your cat for life, although intermittent conditions only present themselves during periods of immuno-suppression. Persistent chronic infections never go away, although they may disappear for short periods of time due to treatment.

Diagnosing Respiratory Infection-Causing Illnesses

The majority of feline upper respiratory infections are a result of calici virus or rhinotracheitis virus. These infections can weaken your cat's immune system, which allows a secondary bacterial infection to take root. The secondary infection may make diagnosis difficult, as it will introduce new symptoms.

Your vet will run labs on your cat's blood in order to find his antibody counts, and will diagnose based on history and physical findings, in addition to these antibody counts.

Treating the Illness

Most upper respiratory infections occur in young, stressed, or immuno-suppressed cats, as all these conditions make your cat prone to disease, as a result of the weakened immune system.

They're also passed very easily from cat to cat, so multiple cat households should try to restrict contact between cats if you suspect infection. Separate any new additions to the household for two weeks, in order to prevent outside disease affecting your older cats. Use separate food and water dishes, carriers and sleeping areas to prevent spread.

Treatment typically addresses the symptoms rather than the disease itself. Your vet will suggest cleaning your cat's face to remove secretions from the eyes and nose, switching to canned food in order to promote appetite and putting your cat in a steamy room each day to prevent congestion.

In more serious cases of upper respiratory infection, hospitalization may be necessary in order to provide IV fluids, as well as for treatment of secondary bacterial infections.