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Nasal Discharge and Nasal Infections in Cats

Nasal Infections continued...

The feline viral respiratory disease complex is the most common cause of nasal infection. Eighty to 90 percent of cats who recover from an infection become carriers of herpesvirus or calicivirus. During periods of stress, immunity breaks down and the disease is reactivated. Calicivirus may be shed almost continuously, without clinical signs, which means the cat can infect other cats. In some cases, the nasal infection is mild; in others there is a chronic, mucopurulent discharge from the eyes and nose. Chlamydia (also called Chlamydophila) infections rank second to viruses for causing feline nasal infections.

Treatment: The objectives are to restore breathing, treat and prevent infection, and keep the cat as comfortable as possible. Isolate the ill cat if possible to prevent the spread of illness to other cats in the home. Gently wipe the nostrils with a moist cotton ball or soft, clean cloth to remove crusts and secretions. Unscented baby wipes also work well. Gently rub a drop of baby oil, aloe, or baby lotion on the nose to keep nostrils from cracking and drying. Vaporizers loosen secretions and help to restore the integrity of the mucociliary blanket. Even closing your cat in the bathroom while you shower can help loosen up nasal secretions.

Encourage the cat to eat by feeding his favorite aromatic foods. You can also add the juice from a can of tuna to your cat’s regular food. Gently warming food to make the smell more pronounced can also encourage eating. Cyproheptadine is an antihistamine that has been used as an appetite stimulant; your veterinarian can prescribe it if necessary. Adding the amino acid lysine as a supplement may help decrease herpesvirus in the respiratory tract.

A purulent discharge signifies a bacterial infection and indicates the need for an antibiotic. When the discharge persists despite treatment, your veterinarian will need to do a culture and sensitivity test to select the most appropriate antibiotic.

In long-standing cases suspect a fungus. A fungus may be identified by examining a nasal swab under a microscope. Your veterinarian will do this for long-term or recurrent cases. Fungal infections require special long-term medications.

WebMD Veterinary Reference from "Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook"

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