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Ask Dr. Kara Your Own Question
Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 15577
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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My cat is restless, panting, and licking. It is not normal

Customer Question

my cat is restless, panting, and licking. It is not normal behaivor for him. an hour ago he was totally calm and purring in my lap, now he is upset.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 1 year ago.
Hello, my name is***** and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian. I'm sorry to hear that your fellow is suddenly restless, panting and licking. This represents discomfort and sounds like an allergic reaction.This is usually related to an insect bite or sting. Sometimes we never figure out the cause because the bite/sting isn't obvious, just the systemic reaction to it is. Treatment is based upon stopping further allergic reaction with antihistamines like Benadryl and sometimes cortisone if the reaction progresses.Any vomiting or diarrhea?I know he is panting but that can be a stress response. Any difficulty breathing secondary to throat or facial swelling?Are his gums and tongue a nice bubblegum pink? You can give him Benadryl (diphenhydramine only don't use the combination products with decongestants or acetaminophen as they can be toxic for cats) at a dose of 1mg to 2mg per pound or one half of a 25mg capsule per 8 to 15 pounds of body weight orally every 8 hours. You'll need to give it for at least 72 hours (3 days) to allow the allergen time to clear. If you stop too soon the reaction will recur.Cats take a really high dose of antihistamines compared to people, so don't let the amount worry you. They require more than we do. This may make him a little sleepy. You can also give him a cool water bath with an oatmeal based shampoo to soothe his skin. The cool water will close skin capillaries and reduce inflammation and oatmeal reduces inflammation. Lather gently, let it sit for several minutes and then rinse with cool water.If he is licking a particular area you can apply cortisone cream (like Cortaid) to that area.And then you'll need to watch him closely for any progression of symptoms. That includes difficulty breathing due to throat swelling, vomiting or diarrhea.The itchiness should resolve slowly over the next 12 to 24 hours. In extreme allergic reactions they can get shocky and collapse but you should see difficulty breathing and vomiting/diarrhea first. Those types of severe reactions are very rare.Most reactions are managed just fine with antihistamines alone.Because you know now that he has these types of reactions you should keep Benadryl on hand at all times.If you notice progression of his symptoms don't wait, have him checked on an emergency basis. If you'd like you can have him examined by an emergency veterinarian now. They can give a cortisone injection which will lessen symptoms faster. But if he seems to be doing well then I would just call your regular veterinarian tomorrow and let them know so it is on his record for future reference. Please let me know if you have any further questions.