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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 15357
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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My cat started intermittent wheezing, raspy meowing, gagging

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My cat started intermittent wheezing, raspy meowing, gagging with strained purring and hard swallowing yesterday. Today, her voice is mostly gone, she's swallowing and gagging alot especially when trying to purr, and her intermittent wheezes seem to be on the inhale with a whistle like sound on the exhale and high pitch chirp when she eats. Her respirations are around 20 bpm. She is eating but is much less active than normal.
She is a 9 year old indoor tabby and in otherwise excellent health. We have 3 other cats in the house. What do you suspect this is and what should we do?

Dr Kara :

Hello, I am very sorry to hear about your girl, Iddy Bit.


Are any of the other cats having any symptoms?


Is she sneezing?


Any history of asthma?


Do any of your kitties go outdoors?


 

Customer:

Hi Dr Kara,


 

Dr Kara :

Hello, thanks for joining me.

Customer:

I'm very worried about her. No to all of your questions. Iddy bit has always been in excellent health. We do however pet a neighbors cat almost daily. We try to be careful about washing our hands but can't rule out forgetting once in a while.


 

Dr Kara :

Thanks very much.


So the possibility of a contagious upper respiratory infections is definitely there.


That would explain her symptoms quite well.

Customer:

ok. Please tell me more.


 

Dr Kara :

Her respiratory rate is actually fairly normal.


Are her gums and tongue nice and pink?

Customer:

let me check real quick...


 

Dr Kara :

Thanks.
The most common reason for sneezing and a congested nose in a cat is a contagious upper respiratory infection. Some cats get sicker than others and young, healthy adult cats seem to tolerate them and fight them off better than very young kittens or older cats. An upper respiratory infection in cats is just like a cold in you and I, and these are commonly caused by a virus, the most common one being Herpes virus. These are easily caught by breathing in virus particles in the air from a sneeze or nasal or eye discharge from an infected cat. We can bring them in too on our clothes and hands.
Stress (and that can be as simple as a change in weather) can suppress a cat's immune system and allow a respiratory infection to thrive. That said most cats get a respiratory infection at some point in their lives, we just need to make sure that they don't get secondary infections or they don't turn into pneumonia.

Dr Kara :

You can help her feel better by adding warm water to her food to make it smell more (they don't eat if they cannot smell) as well as making it easier to swallow. Also the more fluids she gets the better. Offer tuna juice, low salt chicken broth, run the tap if she likes to drink out of the sink tap.


Take her into the bathrom with you if you run a hot bath or shower as the steam will soothe her sore throat and airways.


If her nose become very congested you can use sterile saline to loosen the thick mucous and remove it. She won't like it but it will help her breathe and be able to smell her food better. You can also use sterile saline to remove eye mucous if it accumulates.


You can give her an amino acid supplement called L-lysine at 250mg to 500mg orally twice daily. If this infection is due to Herpes this amino acid interferes with virus replication and will shorten the infection's duration and severity. Good supplements to try are made by the Viralys brand which comes in a powder to add to the food or a tasty gel.

Customer:

Dr Kara,


 

Customer:

Iddy has NO congestion of any type. I jsut checked and am VERY alarmed that her gums and roof of mouth are GRAY! tongue is pink. ????


 

Dr Kara :

Thanks very much.


Some cats will have a blackish/gray color to their palate and gums. If her tongue is nice and pink then that probably means that she is oxygenated OK.


Let me see if I can find a picture for you of normal dark/gray colored gums.

Customer:

ok. thank you!


 

Customer:

ok looking right now. thanks


 

Dr Kara :

Very welcome.

Customer:

no. this isn't anything like what we're seeing. i compared her coloring to her brother and his looks like this picture, hers looks unhealthy gray, not a change in pigmentation like this picture. i think we need to bring her to the er now.


 

Dr Kara :

I think that you are absolutely right if her color isn't pigment related but rather a pale/white gray color.

Dr Kara :

That can indicate heart or lung disease, a mass or foreign body that is blocking her trachea or severe anemia.

Dr Kara :

Do you need help finding an emergency clinic?

Customer:

we're worried its a blocked passage. no, we're headed out now to our er vet.


 

Customer:

thank you


 

Customer:

good bye


 

Dr Kara :

Very welcome. Please drive safely!

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi Dr Kara,


 


Thought you and future readers may want to know what happened with Iddy Bit.


 


You were right, the ER vet said that her coloring, despite covering her entire gum and palate area, is simply pigmentation. Because her pigmentation is so extensive, he said we can gauge oxygenation levels, in the future, by looking at her tongue.


 


They twilight sedated her to look down her throat for any obstructions (our main concern), polyps, swelling, etc...


They found some swelling and based on her other symptoms, he thought she either had a virus or maybe swallowed a toxic bug. But overall, he felt she was stable and doing ok.


 


He gave her a shot of steroid for inflammation and sent us home with L-lysine HCL, which you also suggested, to give her twice / day. We are giving this, preventatively, to our other 3 cats as well since they live in close quarters.


 


Today, she is much, much better. She's very quiet, not her usual vocal self but her purring seems mostly back to normal with none of her other previous symptoms. Plus she's back to her normal eating habits.


 


We were extremely relieved for her diagnosis and really appreciate your quick responses and excellent advice.


 


Thank you and keep up the good work!


 


 

Thanks so much for following up with me, I truly appreciate it.

It's tough to answer questions and not know the outcome so I truly appreciate when customers let me know.

The best news is that Iddy Bit is feeling so much better today.

I agree that giving L-lysine to everyone is a great idea so that the others remain healthy.

Thanks again and have a great week.

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