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Feline Upper Respiratory Tract Infections (URTI)

By: Dr. Dawn Ruben

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Diagnosis

Diagnosing feline upper respiratory infection is generally based on physical exam findings and typical symptoms of fever, congestion, sneezing, watery eyes, nasal discharge and occasionally drooling. Finding the exact viral or bacterial cause of the infection, however, is more difficult, and your veterinarian may not want to pursue it. Some diagnostic tests might prove helpful, however, such as nasal or throat swabs, blood tests to determine the overall health of the cat, and chest x-rays to detect pneumonia.

Treatment

Since most upper respiratory infections are viral, there are no drugs available to kill these viruses so treatment is aimed at treating the symptoms and maintaining your cat's overall health to bolster the immune system and help speed recovery. Basic treatment usually includes proper diet and sufficient fluids, antibiotics, nebulization (a process to humidify the air and keep the nasal passages moist), and eye medication if eye ulcers are present. If your cat does not respond to treatment at home, hospitalization may be necessary.

Home Care

If your cat is treated at home you will need to provide care that includes keeping the nose and eyes clear of discharge. Administer all medications your veterinarian prescribes and provide sufficient food and fluids so your cat does not become dehydrated. Keep your cat away from other cats until fully recovered or even longer due to the potential for viral spread.

Preventative Care

The best way to prevent upper respiratory infections is to follow the vaccination procedures by your veterinarian. Vaccines can be administered by two methods, intranasal method and injection. Also, keep your cat away from other sneezing, ill cats and take precautions when introducing a new cat to the household.

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