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URTI in cats.

Species: Cat
Breed: Moggie
Age: 1-2 years

I have got 2 cats, Xena 1,6 years and Nemo, a kitten 12 weeks. When the Nemo came to us he was healthy apart from a few fleas that we treated easily and occasionally diarrhoea that improved quickly.

Both cats have both been using the same 2 litter trays (which have been cleaned every day) although i have tried getting them to use their own. They have their own feeding bowls but been licking each others bowl after meal time. Especially Xena has been interested in whatever he is been given and eaten. After having Nemo for about 2 weeks and the day after he received his first shot Xena fell ill. She was either hiding or slowly tip toeing around and it seemed like she tried vomiting although nothing but a strange noise came out. I took her to the vet and got a whole load of medications, metacam,noroclav and kitty stim, to cure her cat cold.

My questions:

1) How do cats catch a cold? Xena is an outdoor cat and runs in and out as she pleases. She always gets her yearly boosters at the vet and is flea and worm treated regularly. I suppose they can get it from other cats saliva and fleas as they can not be vaccinated against colds etc...?!

2) Is it possible that she would have caught it from the new kitten (Xena has never really been ill before this cold...She is normally very healthy and I feed both cats "natural" food, Almo Nature). Nemo has not become ill as yet -fingers crossed.

3) Xena was given a syringe at the vet but I have forgotten what it was all I know is that she has perked up remarkably and is eating and is her "normal" self bare the lost "meows". Have you got any idea what the shot was? I was also given "kitty Stim" but I never gave it to her as she was eating and drinking (and weeing but no poo so far) fine. Shall I give this to her despite the fact that she eats and drinks now.

4) I was advised to separate the cats which I have done since I came back from the vet, but its hard work as they both want to play with each other and Xena is keen on going outside (catflap is locked though). For how long do I need to keep them separate?
I don't know if Xena got the cold of Nemo seeing she has been licking his food bowl and they have been using the same 2 litter trays (was hard to keep him from using hers) but I thought Nemo would have gotten ill by now as they have only been separated since I got back from the vet.

Thank you ever so much

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Sorry to hear that your cat is having health problems!

Respiratory tract infections or "colds" in cats are relatively common. They are spread from cat to cat via the air so it is usually impossible to tell exactly where they got it. It certainly is possible that Nemo was harboring an infection but fought it off, yet passed it on to Xena. It is actually quite common to have an adult cat come down with an upper respiratory tract infection after a new kitten is introduced into the house.

The regular cat vaccines that we give (PRC, or FVRCP) are actually against upper respiratory viruses like this one. However, no vaccine is 100%. It may be that if he wasn't vaccinated he would have been much sicker.

It's hard to say what the syringe was at the vet's office - possibly some steroid to help with inflammation?

Kitty Stim is a probiotic supplement. It never hurts to give it, but if he is doing well there's really no point in giving it now.

As far as separating the cats goes, it is usually best to do this until all of the symptoms are gone. However, realistically, the virus is spread easily through the air and air circulates freely throughout the house so I don't usually get too strict on keeping cats separate.

Most cats get over an upper respiratory tract infection relatively easily. Sometimes we give antibiotics if there is a green discharge from the nose or eyes. I will often also prescribe a supplement called Lysine and give it to all of the cats in the house when there is an upper respiratory tract infection. Lysine has been shown to greatly reduce the reproduction of virus in a cat's body.

I hope everything goes ok!

Dr. Marie.

---This question was asked in our Ask A Vet For Free section.---

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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.

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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.