Upper Respiratory Infection in Cats
Respiratory issues in cats are common, and the symptoms are very easy to spot. However feline upper respiratory infections (URI’s) can be a little more serious. URIs are typically diagnosed with a physical exam and/or radiographs, and then treated with antibiotics. If left untreated, your cat could get seriously sick and even develop pneumonia.
Just like humans, respiratory issues and infection start out with cold and flu-like signs:
- Excess mucus
- General lethargy
Vets will also check for oral ulcers, sometimes caused by feline herpes (feline viral rhinotracheitis or FVR) and feline calicivirus (FCV), as recurring respiratory issues are sometimes indicative of those diseases. The infection can be highly contagious, so kittens, with underdeveloped immune systems, are particularly susceptible to the illness.
Diagnosis and Treatment
After a kitten came into the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SF SPCA) shelter, they discovered he was suffering from a viral respiratory infection (common in shelter cats and kittens). They treated him with the typical medications and he got a little better, but his symptoms were still present. “
Vets now have human-grade tools that can determine whether your cat has an upper respiratory infection that can be quickly treated with antibiotics, or if it’s something more serious like pneumonia or complications from existing illnesses, or like the kitten above – something even more rare. The standard test requires a sample of your cat’s eye discharge, and if symptoms do not clear up, they may also do an x-ray or a CT scan if they suspect pneumonia-related fluid in the lungs. Bacterial infections require antibiotics prescribed can be either oral or eye drops, while fungal infections have different medicines.If your pet is diagnosed with pneumonia, you can expect more intense treatments such as hospitalization for multiple days, oxygen therapy, and IV antibiotics.The recovery period can be as long as six weeks for all sorts of respiratory issues.
Giving your kitty the best chance of a full recovery can be expensive. Having pet insurance can help cover the cost (as much as 90%) of these spontaneous infections that can set your cat back a few weeks.