Nasal allergies are characterized by periodic bouts of sneezing that last a short time
and tend to recur day to day. Usually, there is a clear watery discharge from
the nose. Most cases are caused by contact with environmental irritants and
allergens. It makes sense to look for causes of this irritation. Cigarette
smoke, dust, and pollen are common causes. A new carpet cleaner, deodorant
powders or sprays, or even a new laundry soap could be the cause of nasal
irritation. True nasal allergies are thought to be
uncommon by most veterinary experts, and most cases that appear to be allergies
are actually reactions to irritants.
Treatment: If possible, simply remove the source of the irritation. If that
is not possible, this type of rhinitis responds well to medications that
contain steroids and antihistamines. Never give your cat
a medication containing a steroid without consulting your veterinarian. The
antihistamines chlorpheniramine or cyproheptadine may be helpful, and your
veterinarian may suggest anti-inflammatory eyedrops, which can be applied
the name suggests otherwise, ringworm isn’t caused by a worm at all-but a
fungus that can infect the skin, hair and nails. Not uncommon in cats, this
highly contagious disease can lead to patchy, circular areas of hair loss with
central red rings. Also known as dermatophytosis, ringworm often spreads to
other pets in the household-and to humans, too.
Chronic inflammation leads to lymphoplasmacytic rhinitis (an influx of
lymphocytes into the nasal tissues), which is fairly common in cats. Systemic
anti-inflammatory medications, such as meloxicam or corticosteroids, may be
needed for control. These chronic inflammatory conditions may contribute to
nasal lymphoma, which is the most
common form of nasal cancer in cats.
The cat has two frontal and two sphenoid (wedge-shaped) sinuses. The small
sphenoid sinuses don’t often cause problems. But because respiratory infections
are common in cats, secondary infections of the frontal sinuses occur with some
Signs of a chronic bacterial infection include a persistent, purulent nasal discharge, often just
from one nostril, accompanied by frequent sneezing and sniffling. X-rays may
show increased density of one sinus. The cat may appear to have a headache and
sit with his eyes partially closed and his head hanging. Diminished appetite,
another sign, can lead to rapid weight loss.
An abscessed tooth (usually the root of one of the top premolars) can lead
to an abscessed frontal sinus. This produces a painful swelling below the eye.
This problem is not common in cats.
Fungal infections (cryptococcosis and
aspergillosis) are uncommon causes of sinus infection in the cat. With
cryptococcus infection you may see facial deformities and skin ulcers on the
nose. Cryptococcus is often associated with exposure to pigeons, even if it is
simply the dust of pigeon excreta blowing in an open window.
Sinusitis can be suspected from the clinical signs and is usually confirmed
by an X-ray.
Treatment: Treatment with an appropriate antibiotic, based on culture and
sensitivity tests, is indicated. Sometimes this is not successful. A surgical
procedure, which involves making an opening into the sinus through the skin to
aid drainage, may be required. Flushing the sinus and leaving it open to heal
is another treatment option.
WebMD Veterinary Reference from "Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook"