Dog ate chocolate?

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Stuffed up cat.

Species: Cat
Breed: Long Hair Domestic
Age: 1-2 years
I have a male cat named Tuna aged somewhere close to a year and a half. He is a rescue kitty, a good friend of mine having found him outside in a snowbank in December of 2009 when he was just a baby and was pretty close to freezing to death. I adopted him from my friend this past June and have noticed that he seemingly always has a sort of mucus buildup in his nose and eyes that is a dark brownish/red colour. He does not appear to be in any pain or discomfort in the eyes or nose, but he does have some minor redness around one eye that comes and goes. Our vet said if it didn't bother him, it was probably minor irritation and not to worry about it.

He also snorts quite a bit which alarmed me because I am worried that he may have a chronic respiratory illness from having been exposed as a kitten outdoors for who knows how long in an especially cold Canadian December. I mentioned the snorting during the same checkup as the eye irritation and was told it could just be an elongated palette. He snorts very frequently and it sounds almost like a snore although he is wide awake and maybe even playing when it happens. He has also recently started sleeping with his mouth open occasionally, or opening his mouth while he is just sitting or lying down and awake.

Again, his habits have not changed, he has always been an active and mischievous cat and he has not slowed down at all. He never seems to be in any pain or discomfort and his appetite has not abated whatsoever.

Could these be signs of a health problem for the Big Tuna that our vet could have missed? He is the biggest, most gentle and sweet cat I've ever met, and I love him dearly! I'd like to know if these symptoms are significant and if so, what course of action I should take or what they may mean. Thanks in advance for any info or advice you can provide!

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

I love the name Tuna! What a great kitty name!

I have a few patients in my practice that have chronic upper respiratory congestion like you have described.

Most of the time we don't know why.

Some of these cats have something called a herpes virus. This is similar to people who get cold sores that are caused by herpes. Every now and then the herpes can flare and we can see more symptoms. In these cats I don't usually do a whole lot as long as they are eating well. These cats will be stuffed up and often get runny eyes.

But if they are getting sick often then I will usually recommend a supplement called lysine. This amino acid has been shown to reduce the amount of virus that is reproduced in cats with chronic herpes. It may help to reduce the symptoms.

Another possibility is if Tuna has a chronic mycoplasma felis infection. Again, these cats often don't clear the infection and can be stuffed up quite often.

In either case I usually don't do much, but if there is a green discharge or if he doesn't want to eat then he may need some antibiotics.

It's not a bad idea to have Tuna tested for feline leukemia virus and FIV. If a cat has one of these viruses it can weaken the immune system and make him more prone to chronic respiratory problems.

I hope that info helps!
Dr. Marie.

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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

Customer reply:

Tuna really is a great name! He came with it and I never would have thought of it! We did add his surname, Balloona, however!

That information is a HUUUUGE help! I was getting worried that it may be something serious. But if Tuna were ever to get sick I would take him to a vet right away and do whatever I could, no matter the cost. This time I wasn't sure if it was worth the $100+ it would be to take him and find out it was no big deal, especially since he seems to be in great health otherwise! This service provides a great middle ground between doing nothing and making needless trips to the vet and I can only imagine how many pets and pet parents you have helped this way! Thank you so much for helping us out. :)

I will keep an eye on Tuna's appetite and flareup symptoms in case they get worse and we will definitely be having him tested at his next annual checkup! Until then we will just add these things to his list of endearing and idiosyncratic traits that make us love him more. Tuna sends you his thanks and snorts!

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

You're very welcome!

Dr. Marie.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.