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My older cat is wheezing significantly. A friend's says he

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might have feline herpes. What...
My older cat is wheezing significantly. A friend's says he might have feline herpes. What is the treatment?
Submitted: 2 years ago.Category: Cat Veterinary
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7/16/2015
Cat Veterinarian: Dr. B., Cat Veterinarian replied 2 years ago
Dr. B.
Dr. B., Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 21,663
Experience: Small animal veterinarian with a special interest in cats, happy to discuss any questions you have.
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Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with your wee one today.
How long has he had these signs?
Does he sound stuffed up or congested?
Does he have any eye or nasal discharge?
If so, what color and from both nostrils or one?
Any coughing, sneezing, sore throat, voice loss, or appetite loss?
Any new air fresheners, candles, or airborne material in use at home?
Does he go outside?
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Customer reply replied 2 years ago
He is 15 years old. He has been wheezing for several months. Very light if any discharge. Appetite light but normal. Some sneezing. Some new air fresheners. He does go outside. Two younger cats do not manifest. pjt
Cat Veterinarian: Dr. B., Cat Veterinarian replied 2 years ago
Thank you,
First, I do want to note that your friend is correct that feline herpes virus can cause flu signs of this nature. That said, if he has had these signs continuously for more then 2 weeks, then we need to consider whether something else is to blame or whether something is compromising Scipio's immune system thus he cannot overcome this virus.
With that in mind, when we see wheezing and sneezing in cats, we do have a range of issues to consider. Commonly this can be caused by an upper respiratory infection (herpes being one of a few of these agents), but also secondary to allergies, nasal fungal infections, bacterial infections of the nose (rhinitis), lung infections, asthma, secondary to foreign material lodging in the nose(ie grass seeds, plant material, etc), or associated with growths (ie tumors/masses/polyps/etc) in the upper airway.
So, these are our main considerations for what you are seeing with Scipio. In regards ***** ***** question about treating herpes virus, this is actually not a virus one can cure. When a cat is infected, it is for life. Therefore, treatment is based on reducing viral load so the immune system can keep the virus from causing signs. To help the immune system, we can consider trying him on L-lysine. This is an OTC nutritional supplement that can help cats with feline herpes virus recover quicker. It is available over the counter at vets, pet stores, and online. It comes as a gel, powder, or crushable tablet that can be mixed with food. Usually we give an average cat dose of 500mg a day. So, you could try that here.
As well, if allergies are suspect, then we need to address those too. Since you do have new air fresheners in the house and these can actually be quite irritating to cat airways, I would advise halting their use for the next few weeks to see if settles. While doing so, to address the allergy side of this, I would note that you can also consider treating him with an antihistamine. Most commonly we use Benadryl/Diphenhydramine for these cases (More Info/Dose @ http://www.petplace.com/article/drug-library/library/over-the-counter/diphenhydramine-benadryl). A low dose (ie. 0.25mg per pound of his body weight twice daily) can just be enough to reduce that allergic irritation for him. We like to keep the dose low in cats, as they can have drowsiness with this medication (just like people). And of course, this medication shouldn't be used if your lad has any pre-existing conditions or is on any other medication without speaking to your vet.
So, those would be all our concerns for your lad. With this having been present for a few months, I have to say that herpes (at least by itself) would not be on the top of our list here. Still, you can treat with L-lysine to see if you can get a positive response. As well, do tackle the allergic airway side of our list of concerns. If you do so and he settles with the above, then we are happy. But if he doesn't settle and since there are some serious differentials for his signs, we'd want to plan to have a check up at that stage. His vet can determine where the wheezing is arising from (lung or upper airway) and advise you which of the above are most likely for him. Depending on their findings, they can advise you on what is present and what treatment can be used to address that for him.
I hope this information is helpful.
Please do let me know if you have any further questions.
All the best,
Dr. B.
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Cat Veterinarian: Dr. B., Cat Veterinarian replied 2 years ago
Hi Peter,

I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?

Dr. B.
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Dr. B.
Dr. B.
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