Nasal Infection in Cats

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By Tess Thompson

Nasal infections in cats may be viral, bacterial or fungal. The primary symptoms of all these infections is a nasal discharge, which turns from serous (thin and clear) to purulent (thick with yellowish-green pus) if the infection continues over a period of time. Other symptoms include sneezing, coughing and gagging. Nasal infections usually lead to refusal to eat, as the cat is not able to smell food.

Any feline respiratory disease that originates in the nasal cavity causes irritation and consequently inflammation in the turbinates, the scrolled, spongy bones in the nasal passage. These delicate bones are easily twisted and pressed out of shape, or even destroyed. This easily allows bacteria that are normally present in the nasal cavity to grow rapidly, leading to secondary infections.

The frontal sinuses that are located just above the eyes are connected to the nasal cavity through a small canal. Cat respiratory infections spread to the sinuses through this canal, causing sinusitis.

There is no cure for viral infections, but they are self-limiting and usually disappear after a week or two. The best that you can do for your cat is to try to alleviate symptoms of viral infection by keeping her in a warm and moist environment. If the symptoms are severe, Interferon, an antiviral protein that inhibits replication of viruses, may be used to restrict the duration of the infection.

Bacterial infections are treated with the aid of antibiotics. Although many cats respond well to antibiotics, there is a risk of a relapse, as the bacteria are well entrapped in the turbinates and cause infection again once the antibiotics are stopped.

Treatment of fungal infections is expensive and medicines are administered only after proper diagnostic procedures have been completed. While some of the older medications for fungal infections have serious side effects, the newer drugs are relatively safer, which usually results in a remission of the infection.

In an unfortunate occurrence of feline leukemia virus or feline immunodeficiency virus, the prognosis is usually not encouraging as compared to other feline upper respiratory infections.

Antibiotics used over extended periods become ineffective, as the cat’s body becomes resistant to the drug. Long-term administration of anti-inflammatory drugs can also cause digestive problems and stomach ulcers. A strong immune system is the best preventive measure against nasal infections, and alternative medicine like homeopathic and Ayurvedic remedies can go a long way in boosting the immunity of your pet.


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