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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 20839
Experience:  Small animal veterinarian with a special interest in cats, happy to discuss any questions you have.
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My 2 year old male orange tabby cat has started sneezing and

Customer Question

My 2 year old male orange tabby cat has started sneezing and his eyes are watering a little bit. His appetite is good and he is the same lovable feline he has been since we adopted him a year ago. Is there something to help him with the sneezing and watery eyes?
Marilyn Gac - Hanover Park IL
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 year ago.

Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with your wee one today.

Based on Tigger's signs, it does sound like he has caught an upper respiratory tract infection (aka cat flu). When cats have flu it can be caused by a number infectious agents (some bacterial, some viral). Clinical signs we tend to see are sneezing, congestion, watery eyes, nasal discharge, lethargy, drooling (as the viruses can cause oral ulcers), sleeping more, and sometimes inappetence.( Really, its much like us with the flu). Some can progress to pneumonia in the lung, but often this is not the case.

Now we do need to keep an eye on the discharge he has. If we were to see snotty (yellow or green) discharge at any stage, this would be a sign of bacteria and antibiotics from his vet would be indicated.

Otherwise, there are some supportive care measures that you can start to ease this for Tigger. First, if he is sneezing and congested you can take him in the bathroom while you run a hot shower. The steam will help loosen and clear some of the snot congesting his nasal passage. You can also use a baby nebulizer, but since cats don’t tend to like things held up to their faces, you can make a ‘steam tent’ with him in his carrier, the nebulizer next to it, and a bed sheet over both.

If he is building up mucus that the steam isn't shifting, you can also use a cotton ball moistened with warm water to wipe away crust and mucus. Furthermore, you can use saline nasal drops like Ocean Mist or Little Noses (but not anything medicated) to further reduce discharge build up. To do so, just tilt his head back and drop 2-3 drops in one nostril. Cats hate this, but it helps. After the drops go down, you can let the head up and wipe away any discharge that gets loosened. Then repeat with the other nostril.

On top of these supports, we need to keep an eye on his appetite. This is because congested cats who can’t smell their food often won’t eat as well as they should. Therefore, if you see any loss of normal of appetite we may need to start tempting him with smelly wet foods (since they are high in water). It may help to warm it up a bit in the microwave to help him be able to smell it.

As well, since herpes is a concern with these signs, I would note that you could consider supplementing him with L-lysine. This is a nutritional supplement that can help them recover quicker. This is available over the counter as a gel or powder at most pet stores, vets, and even online. An average cat dose is 500mg a day and this can be mixed into food to dose.

Overall, the signs you have reported do raise concerns of an upper respiratory tract infection brewing here. Therefore, since Tigger's eyes are watery and not snotty, we can start the above to his immune system fight this infection. Of course, any snotty discharges or if this lingers, we'd then want a check with his local vet so that antibiotics +/- cat safe decongestants can be dispensed to help him overcome this quicker.

All the best,

Dr. B.


If you have any other questions, please ask me – I’ll be happy to respond. Please remember to rate my service once you have all the information you need as this is how I am credited for assisting you today. Thank you! : )

Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 year ago.
I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?
Dr. B.