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VetTechErin, Licensed Vet Tech
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 651
Experience:  Published author in veterinary medical journals and on the Veterinary Information Network with a focus in toxicology
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My cat has long-term congestion & sneezing (6+ months) that

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My cat has long-term congestion & sneezing (6+ months) that we've treated with several different meds, & a sinus flushing/scope routine. The latest was doxicycline (sp?) that worked. It was prescribed for the anti-inflammatory benefits which has definitely helped. Is there something we can give him that is strictly for congestion & sneezing? He does not (and has never had) any visible mucus, so I think the issue is environmental (just a guess). Have you used a nebulizer treatment successfully for this condition? I would prefer to do something that may be abit more homeopathic that will sustain him for the long-term, but am open to any treatment options. Thank you for the advice.

VetTechErin :

Hi there! My name is XXXXX XXXXX I would be happy to help you with your question about Newman

VetTechErin :

Is Newman an indoor or an outdoor kitty?

VetTechErin :

Has your vet diagnosed him with asthma, or does he seem to have any breathing difficulties aside from the congestion?

VetTechErin :

When this all started, was there any change to Newman's environment, such as a new cat in the household, moving locations, new carpet, any work being done on the house?

VetTechErin :

How did he do on the Benadryl?

VetTechErin :

Since it appears you have gone offline, I am going to switch from chat mode to a more traditional Q&A mode so you will receive an email that I have posted a reply to your question! The above isn't an answer, just some questions to help me get a better idea about what's going on with Newman. Even after I've closed the chat, you will be able to reply using the "reply to expert" function at the bottom of the screen so we can continue to converse! :)

VetTechErin :

There is no need to rate to reply, and you do not need to rate until you are completely satisfied with an answer you have received.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

he is strictly indoors. Some travel in January when the condition started. no other pets in the home or visited. He did not initially respond to benedryl with 1 or 2 doses.

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions!

Typically something similar to a nebulizer, (called a metered dose inhaler), is not used unless a cat has been diagnosed with asthma, or some other breathing disorder that requires medication with a bronchodilator. From the way you describe things, it sounds like your cat could be dealing with allergies, or possible chronic viral infections.

Some information on the causes and treatment of these problems:

Inhalation allergies - These are commonly seasonal allergies like pollen, mold, and mildew, but cats can also be allergic to things in the house, such as smoke or sprays used for air freshening. These tend to present as respiratory symptoms similar to a cold, with watery eyes and sneezing, but you can also see itchy spots on the face and neck, and itchy feet (as cats come into contact with pollen and other airborne allergens on the ground). Allergy testing can help identify what your cat is allergic to to help you know when your cat's allergies are going to be acting up. Like with human allergies, antihistamines can be used - some vets recommend Benadryl at home for cats at a dose of up to 1 mg per pound of weight every 24 hours. It may take several doses of Benadryl before you see any improvement, since Newman is already congested (it may take a while for the congestion to clear). This can be started and stopped as his symptoms come and go, though if Newman does not respond to Benadryl, your vet may be able to prescribe a different antihistamine to try.

These can be hard to beat, as if Newman is allergic to something in the air inside the house, you cannot always keep him away from such things. In most cases you end up treating the symptoms. Something vets offer in clinic are allergy shots, which can show significant improvement in your cat after a month or two. These should always be done under the care and advisement of a vet. Here is a site that describes varying treatment options for inhalation allergies, including some information on the allergy testing and allergy shot process. This would be a more permanent solution to an allergy problem than continuous medication.

Viral Infections can also be a recurring problem in felines that can cause congestion issues. These tend to be upper respiratory viruses that cats are exposed to and contract at a young age before they are vaccinated, or even exposure to a virus at an older age, when their immune system isn't as active as when they were younger. These viruses can stay dormant (asymptomatically) in your cat's system, and "flare up" during times of illness or stress when his immune system is compromised. If this is a recent infection, it is possible that once Newman fights it off and recovers, he may never have the symptoms again - oppositely, he may continue to have these episodes whenever he becomes overly stressed, depending on the virus. An event like you going on vacation could be enough of a stressful event to trigger the symptoms of a viral infection (which are typically sneezing, congestion, lack of appetite, and so forth). You can read more about upper respiratory viruses here.

Unfortunately there is no "cure" for these viral infections (much like there isn't for the human cold). They stay with your kitty for life, but you can help Newman supportively if he is suffering from a chronic viral infection to help reduce the symptoms when he has a flare up through recognition of the symptoms when they begin and through recognition of stressful events to know when Newman is likely to have a flare up, so you can stay on top of them.

Some supportive treatments for these viral infections:

Most vets carry an l-lysine powder in-clinic, which is a supplement that you can add to a cat's food to help boost their immune systems to assist in preventing these viral flare-ups. Yearly vaccination is also important to help with the production of antibodies.

Similarly, your vet can prescribe decongestant drops that you can place in your cat's nose to help clear up the dried mucus that is preventing him from being able to breathe and smell normally. Similar to using a nebulizer without medication, you can put Newman in a steamy room, (like the bathroom with the hot water running or in a small room with a humidifier running), for 20 minutes once a day to help loosen and clear out his sinuses.

When cats suffer from these viral infections, they also become susceptible to secondary bacterial infections. If you ever see Newman start to develop a colored mucus or crust around his eyes or nose, he may require antibiotics to clear up any bacterial infection (and this may be why the doxycycline helped him initially).

While they are unpleasant to deal with for both you and your cat, Newman can still live a happy life if he does end up having symptoms of a chronic viral infection by starting supportive at-home care when you start to see him displaying symptoms, and taking care to reduce the amount of stress he experiences. If this turns out to be a constant issue, you will want to keep an eye out for a lack of appetite, lethargy, and breathing difficulties that might indicate that Newman would need to get in to see a vet for some more aggressive care than you can give him at home.

If you have any follow-up questions or concerns, please feel free to reply, and I would be more than glad to address anything I did not cover. Otherwise, I hope this information was helpful, and that Newman is back to his usual self soon!
VetTechErin, Licensed Vet Tech
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 651
Experience: Published author in veterinary medical journals and on the Veterinary Information Network with a focus in toxicology
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