What are Nasal Infections in Cats?
What is it?
How is it Treated?
When Lucy first adopted her rescue cat, Mr. Whiskers, she was thrilled to give him a loving home. However, after a few weeks, she noticed he started sneezing frequently and had a constant nasal discharge. Worried, she took Mr. Whiskers to the vet, where he was diagnosed with a nasal infection. Like many pet owners, Lucy was unaware of the risks and symptoms associated with feline nasal infections.
Nasal infections in cats are inflammation of the nose caused by bacteria or viruses. It usually occurs when there is a blockage of the nostrils. The most common cause of this condition is a bacterial infection. However, viral infections can lead to chronic nasal disease in some severe cases. Nasal discharge often contains mucus, blood, pus, and sometimes food particles.
What are the Types of Nasal Discharge in Felines?
Feline upper respiratory tract disease (FURTD) is the most common type of infection. Other nasal conditions include bacterial rhinitis, viral rhinitis, and parasitic rhinitis in cats. Every kind of nasal infection requires different treatment options.
Upper Respiratory Tract Disease
Upper respiratory tract disease (URTD) is common in cats. The most common symptoms include sneezing, coughing, runny nose, and watery eyes. In addition, allergies, bacteria, viruses, parasites, dust, smoke, environmental toxins, stress, or food may cause it.
Cats often develop URTD when exposed to allergens, irritants, or pollutants. These factors can cause inflammation in the cat’s sinuses, lungs, and air passages. This leads to congestion, sinusitis, and infection.
If left untreated, URTD can lead to secondary bacterial infections, including respiratory diseases such as pneumonia. Therefore, cats who suffer from chronic URTD should be treated with antibiotics.
Bacterial rhinitis is a common illness in cats. The most common cause of this condition is bacteria called Pasteurella multocida. This bacterium lives naturally in the mouth and throat of healthy cats. However, when a cat swallows food containing raw meat, he may inhale some of the bacteria through his nostrils.
If the cat swallows enough bacteria, it can enter the bloodstream and travel to the lungs, lodging in the mucous membranes lining the airway passages. There, the bacteria multiply and produce toxins that irritate the tissues causing inflammation. Bacteria can invade the sinuses, ears, eyes, brain, heart, kidneys, liver, pancreas, spleen, stomach, intestines, bladder, uterus, ovaries, testicles, epididymis, prostate gland, penis, scrotum, and mammary glands.
This disease is usually treated with antibiotics. But if left untreated, it can lead to pneumonia, septicemia (blood poisoning), meningitis, encephalitis (brain swelling), abscesses (infected swellings) in the lungs, heart, kidney, liver, spleen, lymph nodes, and urinary tract, and death.
Viral rhinitis (also known as feline herpesvirus) is common in cats. The virus causes inflammation of the mucous membranes lining the nose, resulting in sneezing, coughing, and discharge. Viral infection, also called chronic rhinitis or sinusitis, usually occurs after exposure to another cat or dog with the disease.
Cats infected with this virus may not show any symptoms at all. However, they often experience fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, and excessive hair shedding when they become ill.
Cats with viral rhinitis are typically treated with antihistamines and decongestants.
Parasitic rhinitis is a common problem in cats. The most common cause of this condition is a parasite called Toxocara cati. This parasite lives in soil and causes respiratory disease when ingested through contaminated food or water.
Toxocariasis is usually seen in young kittens who eat dirt. Symptoms include sneezing, coughing, runny nose, and loss of appetite. Other symptoms may include vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, and seizures.
Contact your veterinarian immediately if you suspect your kitten is suffering from toxocariasis. Your vet will perform tests to determine whether your kitten has been infected. Treatment includes deworming medication and possibly surgery to remove the worms.
What Is Normal Nasal Discharge?
Normal discharge occurs when fluid moves up into the nasal cavity from the lower respiratory tract. This includes fluids produced by the lining of the throat, called phlegm. Phlegm is usually clear and colorless. However, when there is too much phlegm, it becomes thick and yellowish.
Causes of Nose and Sinus Inflammation
Bacteria, viruses, parasites, or fungi usually cause cat nasal infections. The most common cause of feline chronic rhinitis infection is bacteria called Pasteurella multocida. This bacterium lives naturally in the nose of healthy cats. However, the condition occurs when the cat inhales dust articles containing this bacterium.
Bacterial organisms enter through the nose and multiply in the mucous membranes lining the nostrils. They may be introduced when the cat licks its face or sniffs at foreign substances.
Fungi are another common cause of feline allergic rhinitis. Fungus spores are inhaled and grow inside the cat’s sinuses. Parasites can also infect the nasal passages. These include protozoans (such as Toxoplasma gondii), worms (like hookworms), and fleas.
If your cat develops a runny nose, sneezing, coughing, or discharge from his eyes, nose, mouth, ears, or anus, he may have a viral acute upper respiratory infection. This condition may occur alone or with chronic signs related to secondary bacterial infections.
Some cats develop chronic nasal infections. Repeated episodes of inflammation and swelling of the nasal tissues characterize chronic illnesses. Cats with this problem often have difficulty breathing through their noses.
Cats with chronic nasal infections may need treatment with antibiotics, antihistamines, corticosteroids, or decongestants. However, some cats respond well to homeopathic remedies.
Other conditions that affect the nose and sinuses include polyps, tumors, abscesses, and cysts. Your veterinarian should examine your cat’s nose and sinuses during routine examinations. They may use x-rays, endoscopy, or computed tomography scans to diagnose these problems.
Symptoms and Clinical Signs of Rhinitis and Sinusitis in Cats
Feline nasal infections (FNIs) are a common problem among cat owners. They’re often confused with allergies because they cause similar symptoms, including sneezing, runny nose, and watery eyes. But FNIs are bacterial infections affecting the mucous membranes inside the cat’s nostrils.
They usually occur when there’s an imbalance between bacteria in the air and the cat’s immune system. This causes inflammation and swelling in the nasal passages. The most common symptom is excessive scratching at the base of the tail.
Other symptoms include sneezing, coughing, and purring. Some cats may not show any signs at all.
If you suspect your cat has an FNI, immediately take her to the vet. Your veterinarian will be able to diagnose the condition and prescribe treatment.
Diagnosis of Chronic Upper Respiratory Tract Disease in Cats
If your cat suffers from nasal infections, he needs immediate veterinary care. Your veterinarian will perform a physical examination, and your vet should also examine your c at’s ears and to detect signs of ear infection. Other diagnoses include rhinoscopy, culture, bronchoscopy, and blood test.
- Rhinoscopy is an examination that involves looking into the nose and examining it visually and microscopically. It is used to diagnose chronic rhinosinusitis, allergic fungal infection or rhinosinusitis, and acute bacterial rhinosinusitis.
- Culture of discharge is done by collecting material from inside the nostril and placing it into a culture medium. This allows bacteria to grow and can help identify the cause of the infection.
- Bronchoscopy is a diagnostic test in which a flexible tube called a “bronchoscope” is inserted down the throat into the lungs. During this procedure, a biopsy or other procedures are performed.
- Blood tests include checking white blood cells, red blood cells, hemoglobin, platelet levels, creatinine, alkaline phosphatases, alanine aminotransferase, aspartate aminotransferases, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, glucose, cholesterols, triglycerides, ureic nitrogen, protein electrophoretogram, urinalyses, fecal analysis, and thyroid stimulating hormones.
Treatment for Nasal Infections in Cats
Treatment options include antibiotics, antihistamines, corticosteroids, and probiotics. Antibiotics are typically used when a bacterial infection is suspected. Antihistamines are often prescribed for allergic reactions. Corticosteroids are commonly used to reduce swelling and sometimes chronic inflammation. Probiotics are beneficial because they help maintain healthy gut flora.
Antibiotics are commonly used to treat bacterial infections. These medications kill off bacteria causing the infection. This treatment may be effective against some bacterial infections but not others. In addition, some antibiotics are toxic to affected cats, so use them only after consulting your veterinarian.
However, treatment may become more complicated if your cat develops a secondary bacterial infection. Secondary bacterial infections occur when the primary infection spreads to another body area. Common areas include the ears, eyes, mouth, genitals, and skin.
Veterinarians often recommend additional antibiotic therapy, topical ointments, and oral medication when treating secondary bacterial infections.
Most cases of cats with chronic rhinitis (nasal infection) are viral and respond well to antihistamines. Antihistamines work by blocking histamine receptors in the brain, thereby reducing the effects of histamine. Histamine causes itching, sneezing, runny eyes, and congestion.
Many types of antihistamines are available, including over-the-counter (OTC) medications and prescription drugs. OTC antihistamines are usually safe and effective. However, some dogs and cats may experience side effects when taking them.
Prescription drugs are usually safer than OTC antihistamines because they’re designed to treat certain medical conditions. Some cats may need to take multiple doses at once to treat their condition effectively.
Corticosteroids are powerful anti-inflammatory drugs used to treat many different conditions. They work by reducing inflammation and swelling in the body. For example, they’re often prescribed for cats who suffer from chronic sinusitis, which causes inflammation of the mucous membranes lining the nose and throat.
When treating cat nasal infections, veterinarians prescribe corticosteroid drugs, such as prednisone, dexamethasone, triamcinolone, flunisolide, budesonide, and ciclesonide. These drugs are available over the counter at most pet stores.
To help prevent future episodes of sinusitis, cats should be treated regularly with corticosteroids. This reduces the risk of recurrence. However, some drugs may cause side effects, including weight gain, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and depression. Ask your vet about possible side effects when deciding whether to give your cat a prescription medication.
If your cat still develops a nasal infection, try adding probiotic supplements to his diet. Probiotics help maintain healthy gut flora and boost immunity.
Some veterinarians recommend giving your cat probiotics every day until he recovers. However, some studies suggest daily probiotic supplementation may be optional. So instead, give your cat probiotics once per week until he recovers.
Probiotics are available at pet stores and online. Look for brands containing Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium animalis.
Prevention of Upper Respiratory Tract Disease in Cats
Nasal infections in cats are prevalent. They’re usually caused by bacteria entering through the nose. The most common cause of this type of infection is poor hygiene.
Cats’ noses are covered with hair, making them vulnerable to bacterial contamination. This means that regular grooming is essential to keeping nasal infections at bay.
If your cat does not regularly groom itself, ask your veterinarian to recommend a product specifically designed for cats. Some veterinarians may prescribe a topical treatment, while others may suggest a shampoo or conditioner.
Remember that some shampoos contain ingredients that can irritate your cat’s skin, so be careful when selecting a product. Also, make sure to rinse thoroughly after use.
When bathing your cat, avoid getting water directly onto its face. Instead, wet the entire body and let it dry naturally. Be sure to clean any areas where dirt collects, including between the toes, behind the ears, and inside the mouth.
Keep your cat away from places where there are sick animals or insects. These environments can spread respiratory disease. Also, try to limit exposure to smoke and fumes.
Also, keep your cat indoors during cold weather, especially at night. Also, clean their bedding regularly. And try not to let them sleep near other animals, including dogs.
Cats who spend too much time outdoors are also susceptible to developing infections. So, if your cat spends much time outside, take precautions to protect them from the elements.
Frequently Asked Questions
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