Sinus Congestion in Cats

Sinus congestion in cats can be minor, or it may eventually lead to serious respiratory conditions like pneumonia. Nasal congestion in cats can be the result of allergies, bacterial infection or viral infection. It's also a symptom of more serious conditions like nasal tumors.

Identifying Abnormal Nasal Symptoms

Your cat's nose may normally be dry and warm if your home environment is dry, but a healthy cat usually has a cool, moist nose. The nose shouldn't be so moist that it drips. A dripping nose is a sign of excess nasal discharge.

Symptoms of sinus congestion in cats include sneezing, sniffling, labored breathing and excessive nasal discharge. If your cat develops post-nasal drip, he'll begin swallowing frequently. Your cat may rub at his congested nose, and may even develop a nosebleed, halitosis or facial swelling if the congestion is severe. Inability to smell food can affect a cat's appetite, so if your cat's sinus congestion continues, he may stop eating. He may seem depressed and lose weight.

Gauging the Severity of Feline Sinus Symptoms

If your cat's nasal discharge is clear, then most likely his sinus congestion symptoms are the result of allergies or minor infection. If the nasal discharge becomes thick and cloudy, then he's probably suffering from a serious bacterial infection. If there is blood in the discharge, then he requires emergency medical treatment. He may have sustained an injury, there may be something lodged in his sinuses or he may be suffering from a very severe infection.

Treating Feline Sinus Congestion

Treatment of feline sinus congestion usually depends on the cause of the congestion. There are a number of possible causes of feline nasal congestion. One of the most common is food allergies. Treating the allergy will resolve sinus congestion.

If the cause of your cat's sinus symptoms is bacterial or fungal, your vet will be able to treat the cause of the symptoms with medication. Treating bacterial and fungal infections of the sinuses is difficult, however, because the complex structure of the nasal passages and sinuses gives these organisms plenty of time to hide.

If your cat's sinus symptoms are the result of viral infection, then they may be chronic. Your vet may recommend Interferon, a drug that boosts the immune system, to help your cat fight off the illness. However, there are a number of viruses responsible for feline sinus symptoms, and these viruses, such as feline rhinotracheitis virus and feline calicivirus, are generally incurable.

Feline nasal cancer can also cause sinus congestion symptoms. They're also difficult to treat, whether by surgery, radiation or chemotherapy. Your vet may be able to remove enough of the tumor to relieve your cat's symptoms for a few months.

Inflammatory polyps are another cause of sinus congestion. These non-cancerous but inflammatory growths can fill the entire sinus passageway from the inner ear to the back of the throat, and they're nearly impossible to remove. Foreign bodies lodged in the nose can also be difficult to remove. They will make your cat sneeze violently and will produce a large amount of mucous.