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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 14585
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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My cat just started sneezing excessively. her head twitching

Customer Question

my cat just started sneezing excessively. her head twitching like something is in her ear. Any ideas as to what may be going on with her. 7 year old white short hair domestic. Generally healthy. a little over weight
Submitted: 3 months ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 3 months ago.

Hello, my name is***** and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian. I understand that you are concerned about the amount of sneezing and twitching of her ear that Lily has been doing for the past 24 hours.

A sneeze simply means that something is irritating her nose. It can be dust, pollens, an irritating, strong smell, increased tearing draining into her nose, a viral, bacterial or fungal infection or a foreign body, a tooth root infection or nasal mass irritating the nasal mucosa. Because she is twitching her ear too she may have fluid build up her ear or an itchy ear along with nasal congestion.

If this were a one time thing then dust, pollen, a strong smell, or increased tearing would be most likely. Since this has lingered I would be more inclined to think of an infection (fungal, bacterial or viral), a foreign body (blade of grass, a grass awn), a tooth root infection, or mass/polyp in her nose or inner ear that is blocking drainage through her eustachian tube (opening between the inner ear and back of the throat/nose.

If she has no, or a little clear, nasal discharge, is eating and drinking normally, and her nose conformation is unchanged (no swelling or bumps) then it may be a viral infection, in which case this should pass on its own after a couple weeks.

You could try giving her an amino acid supplement called L-lysine at a dose of 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.

In the meantime using a humidifier in the room she sleeps in most of the time, and/or taking her into the bathroom with you when you run a hot bath or shower to breathe in steam/humid air can help. That will soothe irritated airways and thin the mucous making it easier for her to breathe.

If she continues to sneeze the next step would be sedation, dental radiographs to look for bad tooth roots, a nasal scope and skull radiographs to look for a foreign body or mass. It may be helpful to collect samples for bacterial and fungal cultures as well.

There is also a chronic inflammatory process (Lymphocytic-plasmacytic rhinitis) we see in some older kitties that responds well to steroid therapy. It is not as common as the other things I listed, and we would need to rule out infectious agents before prescribing high doses of steroids because suppressing the immune system of a cat with an infectious disease could be dangerous.

Please let me know if you have any further questions.

Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 3 months ago.

In case this is an allergic irritation you can give either:

1) chlorpheniramine 4mg at half to one full tablet orally every 12 to 24 hours


2) Benadryl (diphenhydramine) at half of a 25mg tablet per 8 to 15 pound cat every 8 to 12 hours (1mg to 2mg per pound of body weight every 8 to 12 hours). Benadryl is very bitter and some cats will drool excessively or may even vomit because of that. That doesn't mean it is making her ill, she just hates the taste. If that's the case with her try a different antihistamine.


3) Zyrtec (Cetirizine hydrochloride) at a dose of 5 mg per cat given orally every 24 hours. (Make sure it is NOT the formulation with a decongestant (such as Zyrtec-D) because cats cannot tolerate decongestants.)

Antihistamines can cause sleepiness or hyperactivity in some cats but those effects usually wane with repeated use.

Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 3 months ago.

Hello, I wanted to make sure that you didn't have any further questions for me, and I'd like to know how things turned out for your kitty. If you could give me an update that would be great, thank you, ***** *****