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Dr.Wally
Dr.Wally, Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 673
Experience:  20 years experience in Veterinary field.
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kittens: wks old..American short hair...shelter & they were in a cage

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We got the kittens when they were only 7 wks old, brothers. American short hair. Got them from a shelter & they were in a cage with other kittens.
Next day we had them, they sounded congested. They were very playful but it was obvious they were sick.
We've been to 3 vets regarding this, all tests were negative including a respiratory panel. They're up to date w/ their vaccines.
When they take the various antibiotics prescribed, in about 2 days their symptoms disappear. After a few days of the antibiotic treatment ending (which we did as prescribed), the symptoms reoccurred. So then different antibiotics were given. Even tried some neb treatments which were to difficult to continue as they kittens hated the noise from the machine & would hide from us.
Eventually, the symptoms subsided somewhat from Sept thru Nov. So they were off antibiotics for about 3 mos now.
However, they started sneezing again, one w/ yellow-white discharge. And they sound congested. The one w/ the discharge had a weepy eye for 3 days, but that subsided. Now just the sneezing.
They have always eaten like pigs & still do. They play like normal & are very active, while the one w/ the discharge is a bit more sedate. Think that may be his personality, tho.
They drink & poop normally as well, the latter being checked again by the vets for parasites, etc.
I am at my wits' end already as I feel so sorry for them but don't know what to do. I hate to keep taking them to the vet for the same thing over & over without any permanent resolution. Not that the other vets were bad, but my current vet is renowned as a cat doctor.
My husband thinks they have allergies. They colder temps means my heating system has kicked on, so I don't know if they are having problems w/ that or what.
Can you offer any solutions?
Thank you.
Sign me,
Frustrated

Dr.Wally :

I can offer a bit of help. These kittens that continue the upper respiratory signs despite treatment are fondly called "chronic snotters". It is very frustrating both for vets and owners.

Dr.Wally :

Hang on and I'll type out a full response....

Dr.Wally :

First, if they are having yellowish discharge, please try to relieve the cogestion with saline nasal drops up to 3 times daily. These are available at your pharmacy, sometimes under the name "little noses drops". You can occassionally use phenylephrine nose drops (also available at your pharmacy) but overuse of this can cause more congestion. Use this drop only once daily for up to 3 days, then give it a break.

Dr.Wally :

Add L-Lysine supplement to their food, as most of these chronic URI's are due to Herpes virus, and that can be slowed down by feeding Lysine.

Dr.Wally :

L-Lysine can be found at pet stores in tasty additives for kitty food, or at your regular pharmacy in the human supplement aisle. 250mg/day per cat is the recommended dose.

Dr.Wally :

These kittens will get over this in time. Their immune system is just immature, and not able to fully kick this infection. Do ask the vet for antibiotics when this gets particularly bad, but know that it's just a matter of time until it will go away completely.

Customer:

I am giving them Viralys, which has L-Lysine in it. 250mg per spoon that is enclosed. They've been getting it for months now.

Dr.Wally :

In some very rare cases, these cats continue to produce mucus. In this case, more diagnostics would be helpful to see if steroids would help what could be an autoimmune problem.

Customer:

How do I give nose drops? I've never done that before.

Dr.Wally :

Just have the kitty sit in front of you, facing away from you. Tip their nose up, and come from behnd their head with the bottle. Touch the tip of their nostril with the dropper and squeeze a drop into each nostril. Most cats accept this just fine. Just come from behind the head, not directly from the front.

Customer:

What test shows herpes? Wouldn't that have been one of the tests that are standardly done, esp with these type of symptoms?

Dr.Wally :

I'm not sure what tests you refer to. I've never sent out a "respiratory panel". The additional diagnostics I was referring to would be an intra nasal biopsy to check for an autoimmune inflammation.

Customer:

How would you know if a cat has the Herpes virus? Isn't there a test for that? The respiratory panel is supposed to show you what bacterial/viral process is taking place. They get it from the back of the nose or throat I believe the doc said. Like I said, it showed negative.

Dr.Wally :

There are some expesive tests that can be sent out to detect virus presence. I am not sure if what your vet sent out was a culture or some sort of viral panel. Herpes is detectable with some tests, but due to cost, I rarely send them out. They are also somewhat unreliable, as 90% of cats will come back positive, though herpes may not be the cause of the active infection. 90% of cats are exposed to herpes virus in their lifetime. Only a small percentage will continue to have a problem with it.

Customer:

My current vet also said that mostly the kittens grow out of these symptoms. I'm just worried cuz I had a female spayed tabby who developed these symptoms later in life & after countless tests & meds, we finally gave up. She would sneeze this type of discharge for years, but for the most part it occurred at spring time & autumn. It really got bad when the furnace kicked on. And we change the furnace filters regularly. Plus I wouldn't consider my house dirty either so that she'd be allergic to that either.

Dr.Wally :

Maybe not allergic, but dryness also can cause URI signs. Can you humidify your house?

Dr.Wally :

I must step out for a while. I hope I have given you something to try. If you need furthur clarification or answers, please feel free to write and I will be sure t oget back to you a bit later today.

Customer:

I believe my vet also said something similar to what you said about the Herpes.

Dr.Wally :

I wish there was another magic answer. Frustrating problem, I know.

Dr.Wally :

I'm not sure if you have clicked ACCEPT, but I will not get credit for my answer until you do. Please click ACCEPT now. Our conversation continues until you are satisfied with my answer.

Customer:

Well, I think that I will try the nose gtts like you said. Might not try the phenyphrine, tho. But the saline has gotta be a good thing cuz of dryness in the house. What do you think about a humidifier?

Dr.Wally :

Absolutely. In my last reply I did mention that...see if you can humidify your house.

Customer:

Have a house humidifier, not that it works that great. Was thinking of one of the smaller ones for a room they normally sleep in. Anyway, I am satisfied w/ your help in this matter. Thank you very much.

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