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
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
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