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Recurring respiratory symptoms.

Species: Cat
Breed: Burmese
Age: 1-2 years
My 1 yr old Burmese cat was purchased with what we think is cat flu. She has intermittant sneezing and her nose gets very blocked up. When this happens she gets slightly watery eyes - but no puss or mouth ulcers or any of the other typical 'cat flu' symptoms. She was given her innoculations as a kitten, but the breeder thinks she picked the virus up at the vets when she went in for hers! We try to keep her nose clean and she maintains her appetite and playfulness throughout these bouts - she may get a bit more sleepy though. The vet did take an eye swab a few months ago to figure out which virus was the cause but it came back inconclusive. She was on antibiotics for months as a kitten to prevent secondary infections, as well as Bisolven,L-Lysine and Famvir but none of these seemed to make any difference so she was taken off them. She usually gets the bouts about once every 2 weeks which lasts 2-3 days and then her nose clears up a bit, but this last bout has lasted almost 2 weeks and she can't seem to shake it off. ANy advice please???? I have not had her on antibiotics for the past 6-8 months as she never seems to get any worse with each bout - no chest or eye infections only a blocked and snotty nose. Is it at all possible that it could instead be some sort of allergy causing her sinuses to block up? Is it possible to use a human decongestant nasal spray? I am going to try her again on L-Lysine if you think its a good idea. I've run out of ideas!!! I look forward to your advice. Kind regards, maria

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Hi Maria and thanks for your question! This sounds like a frustrating case.

I have a few patients in my clinic who have recurrent problems like this and it can be difficult to treat these cats. The most common culprit to cause recurrent upper respiratory infections is a herpes virus. Herpes can stay latent and then appear from time to time.

Giving lysine regularly has been shown to help cut down the symptoms and the occurrences of herpes. There is no harm in giving this all of the time.

It is also possible that there is something else going on such as a foreign object up the nose or a fungal infection. These can sometimes be difficult to diagnose. If you wanted to go further with diagnostics you can ask your vet about additional tests such as a culture of the nasal discharge or even a rhinoscopic exam (but this can be expensive).

We don't commonly see allergies that cause respiratory symptoms in cats. Additionally, nasal sprays are not usually recommended for cats.

One other thing that I usually do if I have a cat that is having trouble shaking an infection is to test for feline leukemia and fiv. These are viruses that can affect the immune system. The test is a blood test that your vet can do.

While she has a snotty nose you may be able to give her some relief by putting in the bathroom next to a steamy shower for 10 minutes as necessary. This well help to loosen up the congestion.

I hope she feels better soon!
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:

Hi Dr Marie, Thank you for all the information. I have had a think about it and the more I see how healthy she is in every way other than her snotty nose, the more I think that there may be something lodged up in her nose causing these secretions. Instead of a pricey rhinoscopic exam is it not possible to just have an Xray taken to pick the object up?
Do you think that is an option?

Many thanks again,

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

You're very welcome! Unfortunately it is usually tough to see an object in the nose with an xray. If the object is really dense (like metal) then it shows up well.

However, if it is something like plant material or something else that isn't really dense then it is hard to detect it because we can't tell the difference between a soft object and "snot" in the nose.

It's certainly worth a try to take some xrays. If the xrays show that there is a density of some sort in just one nostril then we are more likely to be dealing with a foreign object than a virus. However, if there is something in the nose often rhinoscopy is needed to get it out.

Hope all goes well!

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.