Respiratory Infections in Cats

Respiratory infections are frequent in felines and may affect mostly kittens and unvaccinated cats. The infections are typically caused by viruses and are transmittable among felines. The symptoms of a respiratory infection will be similar to the symptoms of a cold; the symptoms will disappear but the cat can remain carrier of the virus for several years. Respiratory infections may be prevented through vaccination.

Causes of Feline Respiratory Infections

Feline respiratory infections are caused by the herpesvirus or the calicivirus. The infections may also be caused by the presence of Chlamydia organisms.

The infections may be spread through direct contact with an infected cat, through sneezing, coughing, saliva and other body secretions. Food bowls and other blankets and objects belonging to an infected cat can be a source of infection.

In multi household cats, the infected cat must be isolated.

Symptoms of Respiratory Infections

The symptoms of a respiratory infection will start to appear 1 to 5 days after the cat has been contaminated.

A respiratory infection will be manifested as a common cold; the cat will display the following signs:

  • Fever
  • Watery eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing and coughing
  • Excessive salivation
  • Refusal to eat
  • Lethargy
  • Eye infections or conjunctivitis
  • Eye or nose ulcers

The symptoms and the illness will be more serious in kittens and cats with a weak immune system.

Diagnosing Respiratory Infections

Respiratory infections in cats may be diagnosed based on the symptoms and a physical examination. If the symptoms are severe, the vet will perform a few blood tests to determine if the cat’s immune system works properly. A cat with severe symptoms may be affected by an immune system disease such as the feline AIDS caused by the feline immunodeficiency virus.

Treating Respiratory Infections

The feline respiratory infections don’t have a treatment, as the viruses cannot be eliminated; the treatment will focus on reducing the cat’s symptoms.

The vet may recommend fluid therapy and the cat should be kept in a warm environment. If the cat coughs, he may get some cough suppressants.

The eye and nasal discharges may be cleaned periodically. Eye and nasal decongestants will also help alleviate the cat’s symptoms.

Humidifiers should also be used. Alternatively, the cat clean his airways by inhaling steam; you can do this by keeping the cat in the bathroom with a full bathtub filled with hot, steamy water.

If the cat lacks appetite, he should be force fed with a syringe. If this is not possible, the vet will recommend other feeding techniques.

For secondary eye or other bacterial infections, the vet will recommend some antibiotics. In severe cases, the cat will receive intravenous fluids and oxygen therapy. The vet may make other recommendations, based on the symptoms of your pet.

Typically, cats will be treated at home, to prevent the infection of other cats that may visit the vet clinic. If the symptoms are severe, the cat will be hospitalized and kept in an isolated section.