Rhinitis and Sinusitis in Cats

Overview of Feline Rhinitis and Sinusitis

Rhinitis or sinusitis is an inflammation of the mucosa (lining) of the nasal cavity or sinuses. It is seen in cats of all ages and breeds but the young cats tend to be more prone to the infectious causes. Older cats tend to develop rhinitis due to tumors or dental disease and brachycephalic (short-nosed) cats are more prone to chronic viral causes.

Below is an overview of causes and information about Rhinitis and Sinusitis in Cats followed by in-depth information about the diagnosis and treatment of this disease.

General Causes

What to Watch For

Diagnosis of Rhinitis and Sinusitis in Cats

Baseline tests, to include a complete blood count, biochemical profile and urinalysis should be performed on any ill animal. Additional tests may include:

Treatment of Rhinitis and Sinusitis in Cats

Home Care and Prevention

Administer all medication as directed by your veterinarian. Return for follow up examinations and evaluations as directed.

Removing chronically infected cats from the cattery can help prevent the spread of rhinitis. Preventing exposure to bird feces can reduce the risk for aspergillosis.

In-depth Information on Rhinitis and Sinusitis in Cats

Rhinitis and sinusitis are the inflammation of the mucous membrane (lining) of the nose and sinus. They may be acute (sudden onset/short duration) or chronic (slower onset/longer duration), noninfectious or infectious, and are not an uncommon occurrence in veterinary medicine. Regardless of the underlying cause, secondary bacterial invasion/infection is relatively common.

It is important to establish the underlying cause, as treatment modalities are multiple and varied. The clinical signs and progression of disease associated with rhinitis and sinusitis may be mild and slow, however, depending on the individual case, signs may be severe and rather devastating. The appropriate diagnostics and therapeutics would be recommended and tailored to that individual.

There are several diseases/disorders that can appear similar to and/or cause rhinitis and sinusitis. These include:

Infectious Diseases


Severe clotting (bleeding) disorders often present with epistaxis (nasal bleeding), and need to be differentiated from rhinitis and sinusitis. These include:

Diagnosis In-depth

Certain diagnostic tests must be performed to make a definitive diagnosis of rhinitis and sinusitis and exclude other disease processes that may cause similar symptoms. A complete history, description of clinical signs, and thorough physical examination are all an important part of obtaining a diagnosis, and potential underlying cause. In addition, the following tests are recommended:

Your veterinarian may recommend additional tests to exclude or diagnose concurrent conditions. These tests are not always necessary in every case, but they may be of benefit in certain individuals, and are selected on a case-by-case basis. These include:

Therapy In-depth

Most patients are stable, and can be treated as outpatients as long as they are monitored closely for response to therapy. With appropriate therapy, and/or the identification and treatment of the underlying disorder, many patients do quite well, and some can expect to see a full recovery. In some, response to therapy can take longer and occasionally, response may be poor. It is very important that all recommendations by your veterinarian are followed very closely, and any questions or concerns that arise during the treatment protocol are addressed immediately.

Follow-up Care

Optimal treatment for your pet requires a combination of home and professional veterinary care. Follow-up can be critical, especially if your pet does not rapidly improve.

Administer all prescribed medication as directed. Alert your veterinarian if you are experiencing problems treating your pet. It is important that the pet owner takes note of any clinical setbacks or onset of new clinical signs and alert the veterinarian at once.

General blood work (complete blood count, biochemical profile) may need to be re-evaluated as recommended by your veterinarian.