Seeking Advice on Sick Cat

Updated on September 25, 2009
T.F. asks from Troy, OH
12 answers

Hello to all,
A few years ago we took in a stray kitten. We had him fixed and declawed, so he is kept indoors. We have had him now for three years. About seven months ago he started sounding stuffy like he had a cold. It would last a couple days and then he would be fine. Well, three months ago, he started in again. This time he slept alot and was struggling to breathe. I took him to the vet and he said he had a severe upper respitory infection. He was given an antibiotic. He showed signs of improvement less than 24 hours into the antibiotic. The vet recommendeed him getting tested for feline leukimia. At the time, I didn't have the money for the test. Well, over the weekend my kitty started again. He sounded very stuffy and was sneezing alot! His appetite is still good. By Sunday evening he sounded a little better. I have been giving him Lysine vitamins to boost his imune system. It is Monday morning and he sounds good now. I guess it could be alergies, I don't know. Has anyone had this problem with their cat? Is there anything over the counter that can be given? We still don't have the money for the Leukimia test. If he does have Leukimia, what is the outlook for this kitty's life? Is it the end for him? Thank you so much for your input. T.

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answers from Columbus on

If you are in the Columbus area the Rascal Unit has inexpensive veterinary services. They travel around but also have a stationary office in Dublin.

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answers from Columbus on

HI - when you originally had kitty to the vet for the surgeries I am assuming they also did the intial blood tests and such so your kitty should have been tested to see if kitty carries the virus for Feline luekemia - do you get kitty yearly shots - is this one of them? If none of this has been done the test is a blood test and should really not cost much. If it does find a new vet. Not to sound rude. If you live in the Columbus Area - Knapp Vet hospital is an awesome place and Dr. Schieffer is very good with cats. Good luck



answers from Cleveland on

Out Lexi gets upper respiratory infections almost once a year. Sometimes I really think she has allergies like me. She even sneezes like me :-) Also - sometimes, one dose of antibiotics doesn't work...just like in humans. We've had to have Lexi on 2-3 rounds of antibiotics in a row for some of her upper respiratory infections. Just keep an eye on your know what's his normal behavior and when you sense an upper respiratory infection again - take him back to the vet or call for another round of antibiotics. Also, if you have other kitties - this is contagious. Since we have multiple cats, we ask for extra antibiotics for when the others start to show signs of infection too.

When you do have some extra money - get the feline leukemia test done. If I remember correctly, that is contagious among cats and if you have any other cats they can pass it along. When one of our cats was diagnosed with that years and years ago, I remember having to clean the house with a bleach/water solution before we got another cat because of feline leukemia's contagious nature. I'm not sure this is 100% accurate today - but that's what we were told 20 years ago.

Hope this helps :-)



answers from Bloomington on

My mom has a cat that has chronic upper respiratory infections. The only thing that you can do is give them the antibiotic from the vet. Do NOT give them anything over the counter...cats cannot tolerate people medicine the same way that dogs can. I repeat do NOT give people medicine to your cat, if you want to try this route make sure to check with your vet on what cats can tolerate and what they can't.

I would talk to your vet and see if maybe he can give you a little bit of extra antibiotic to keep on hand that way you are not having to run to the vet everytime your kitty gets congested. My mom has had her cat for 10 years or so now and has dealt with the issue ever since she was a kitten.

Good luck!!



answers from Columbus on

I am a vet, so I wanted to give you some general advice on upper respiratory infections (URI's) in cats. The most common cause is a herpesvirus, which is always in the cat's system once they are exposed to it. Therefore, they can have many recurrences throughout their life. The lysine can help boost the immune system and help prevent recurrences or lessen the severity of signs. Unfortunately there is no specific treatment for URI's and they can be very frustrating.

Most of the time the infection will run its course in 7-10 days similar to the common cold. They have signs similar to the common cold- sneezing, nasal and/or ocular discharge, congestion, lethargy, decreased appetite. You want to make sure that they are eating and drinking; feed wet, smelly food if they won't eat dry; keep them warm and inside if they go out.

If the signs persist after 10-14 days, then the cat may have a secondary bacterial infection. This is the only time that antibiotics are effective! Antibiotics DO NOT treat a viral infection and are usually useless at the beginning of an URI. I definitely don't recommend doing occasional antibiotics as a preventative, because that won't stop a virus.

It is a good idea to perform the leukemia test, which is usually combined with FIV. Both viruses supress the immune system and can worsen the URI symptoms. The diseases are not necessarily a death sentence, although there is no cure for them.

Hopefully this gives you a little more info on URI's in cats. I can't speak specifically about your cat, since I haven't seen him, but I have several kitty patients with URI's. Some have more recurrences than others, but they can still have pretty happy lives.



answers from Columbus on

Have you changed the kind of litter you are using or had any changes in your home that could be making him stuffy ? Does the dog go out ? He could be bringing allergens in on his fur ?
You must be extremely careful with what you give Dogs or cats without a vet's approval. If the vet recommended a Feline Leukimia test You should really have the test done and if it is negative have him give him the shot to prevent it.You can surely give up a luxury or two to have your cat tested.I know tests and shots are very expensive but not having them run can be even more expensive in the long run.I treat my feline family as if they were my children and you certainly wouldn't deny your child medical care.My friends cat had lukimia and lived a pretty normal life until reaching the age of 12 and then she passed away.It is hard to lose a pet for any one. Please have your cat tested, you could give up a dinner out or a shopping spree.Personally I think it is probably allergies but I would not take a chance.
Good Luck.



answers from Fort Wayne on

I realize you love your cat, and I love my pets too. However, they are not people, and pet owners generally do not spend thousands of dollars treating cancer in a cat. With this in mind, you may want to forego paying for the leukemia test because even if kitty has cancer, you may not treat kitty for cancer anyways.

Because vet bills are really expensive, you might consider getting pet insurance. The monthly installments would probably be less than 1 visit to the vet and getting any sort of test.

I am not sure where you are located, but in Fort Wayne Indiana there is a new veterinarian clinic called Indian Creek Veterinarian Hospital. Their office visits are $10. Their office call with a doctor is $25 plus the $10. Their shots are $15 each. Perhaps you could call them over the phone if you are too far away and they could give you some online references to possible outcomes for your kitty. They are really personable and they take great care of my pet. Because they give such good care, advice and offer great prices, I drive 45min across town to get there (when there's a vet less than 5min from my house). ###-###-####.

Here are some links I found on feline upper respiratory infections.





Perhaps there is something in kitty's environment that causes kitty to keep getting the same illness.

When my puppy was sick, I ended up scrubbing down her cage, bowls, sleeping areas, washing all her linens and blackets. Pretty much the same things I do for the kids. I sprayed her sleeping areas with Lysol antibacterial spray. This spray is different than others. Lysol kills bacteria in the air, and it kills bacteria on the surface of items. Thus, it sanitizes the area where the bacteria is growing, prevents it from spreading. Then the smell of illness, puke, feces and urine is removed. I also use a spray cleaner (also available in an aerosol) called Joe Capanelli's cleaner. (Not sure on the last name spelling, sorry.) It's a commercial grade cleaner than can be bought by individuals. When I have used it, the smell and remains of pet and people "gunk" is removed.

I wish you all the best. Good bless!



answers from Cincinnati on

It could be asthma related, and allergies. Our cat sneezes a lot and when he does on occassion will sneeze blood and his one eye is watery. He had his checkup a few weeks ago and the doctor said the pill we give him is one thing that could help. We give him 1/2 a pill (Prednisone)with his breakfast and he could take a whole.

Best wishes.

J. R.



answers from Cleveland on

Hi, T.! It could certainly be allergies. It's not unheard of, that's for sure. The allergies are horrible right now. I would call the local Humane Society or APL and tell them of your situation. They may be able to test your kitty for a reduced cost or even free of charge. It's worth checking it out! I wish you and your kitty the best!



answers from Columbus on

It sounds like he may have a chronic upper respiratory infection, sometimes it takes lots of rounds of anti-biotics and sometimes those won't work because it is based on a chronic herpes infection, which manifests differently in cats, it looks like an upper respiratory infection. For that there really is not a whole lot to do that you are not doing already, they recommend the Lysine and just making sure he can still smell enough to want to eat. If he EVER stops eating you need to make sure he gets to the vet ASAP. Cats cannot go even 24 hours without eating or they start getting liver damage.

As for your question about Leukemia, the test that your vet wants to do is a test for a virus that causes feline leukemia/lymphoma, it is not a test for whether or not he actually has the disease. Most cats that are Feline Leukemia positive will at some point develop leukemia or lymphoma but it is not a guarantee, and it really depends on what kind of leukemia or lymphoma develops. Some are very treatable with a good chance for a long life, and cats deal with chemo a LOT better than humans. we just lost our baby to lymphoma and he was on chemo for 18 months and had zero side effects, it was very easy to treat and he was the same little boy throughout the whole process.

I suggest you ask your vet about chronic herpes infection in the upper respiratory track, it sounds like what you are dealing with more than cancer.



answers from Cincinnati on

i also think it sounds like your cat has feline herpes. one of my two cats had the same symptoms starting about 4 years ago. took antibiotics, they worked, then the sneezing/stuffiness came back. it probably took over 2 years for him to get diagnosed, but really still no satisfactory treatment and i've taken him to 3 different vets.

my goal is to get some sort of regimen that helps him maintain relative health/can curb the sneezing. asked my vet about doing antibiotics 4/5 times a year, got 2 doses, but sadly even the first one was ineffective. (my vet gave him clavamox drops, but another vet had recommended zithromax.)

my cat won't take the lysine (all the vets have recommended it), so it's good yours does. i had another holistic vet send me calcium tablets to give him for two weeks, starting out with two tablets every hour the first day to flood his system, then taking two tablets a.m. and p.m. the rest of the time. i was only able to do it for a week before my cat started avoiding me like the plague, so we'll never know if that would have had any impact. can't remember how many milligrams they were, but the bottle looked like regular human calcium tabs. you could ask your vet.

basically, my cat has at least low-lying symptoms every day with a few sneezes, and sometimes he has severe episodes where he looks miserable for a couple of days, having a lot of trouble breathing and sneezing non-stop (lots of yucky green/yellow mucus which winds up all over the house).

my next step is to take him to an internist. if you want to email me, i can let you know what i find out after our appointment.

sorry this is so rambly, but two other things: herpes is contagious. miraculously, my other cat hasn't gotten it, to the surprise of all the vets his been to, so keep an eye on your other cat, too. and the last vet i took my cat to realized he'd never been tested for feline immunodeficiency virus (HIV for cats, usually given as a kitten w/all the other vaccines), so i did wind up having that test done since it could have been the culprit.

bottom line, i'd ask your vet about the possibility of it being herpes, though in my experience, not much can be done about it. good luck. not to sound insensitive to my cat's illness, it also wreaks havoc on your walls, furniture and carpet.



answers from Toledo on

We have this problem with our cat (and had it with another cat years ago) every time the seasons change. We never had either of them looked at, but we're pretty sure its allergies. It only happens when summer turns to fall and winter turns to spring...I think because this is when we open the windows and air out the house the most. After a week or so, it usually subsides. We've never really done anything for it and have not had anything "bad" happen.

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