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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 20546
Experience:  Small animal veterinarian with a special interest in cats, happy to discuss any questions you have.
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My cat is about 10 years old. She is wheezing alot, and

Customer Question

My cat is about 10 years old. She is wheezing alot, and coughs up alot of hair balls. Has had GI complaints for some years. Can i get something OTC that can help>?
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.

How long has she had these signs?

Since you noted coughing and hairballs, does she only wheeze when trying to pass these or all of the time?

Any eye or nasal discharge? What color? From one or both nostrils?

Any changes to her breathing? Any congestion?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
She vomits hair balls after she eats. But when she sleeps you can here her breathing all over the room. Wheezing, But most of the time, no labored breathing. She has had the hair ball problem after meals for as long as we have had her. When she is awake, we don't notice any breathing problems. No coughing, or sneezing. And her breathing is even and unlabored when awake as well. Just worries us when we here her while she is asleep. Maybe she is just getting old. I just don"t know if this is normal behavior, or not. Sounds more like upper respiratory. lung expansion and sounds seem normal. Do cats snore? Maybe we need moisturizers in the house. What do you think would help? And thanks.
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 year ago.

Thank you,

First, if she has always had hairball issues, I'd note that if you have not already then you could consider trying an OTC gel/paste treatment (ie Laxotone, Catalax). As well, adding a bit a of fiber (ie spoonful of canned pumpkin) to her food could also help push those hair balls down the right direction.

Otherwise, based on your further history, we are likely looking at a separate issue here. Its possible that we could have these signs related to throat irritation from the hair she ingests. Still, if we are hearing increased respiratory noise and wheezing especially at rest, I'd be concerned that we do have something present in the upper airway that is disturbing her normal air flow. Cats are allowed to snore and can be noisy breathers, but if she hasn't always been as noisy as she is now; then it does suggest an issue lurking here. Common causes at her age would be inflammation (potentially related to a low grade infection or allergy), but also polyps or growths in the airway.

With all this in mind, you could try using increased air moisture to see if we can reduce these signs. Often we will use a humidifier or baby nebulizer for them. This could be used in a small room or you can even make her a steam tent by placing her in her carrier and covering the carrier and nebulizer/humidifier under the same sheet.

As well, if you thought she sounded congested, then we could also try non-medicated saline nasal drops (like Ocean Mist or Little Noses). Tilt the head back and drop two to three drops in one nostril. Cats hate this, but it can help. 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.

Finally, if we have a possible allergic irritation, you can also trial her on an antihistamine. Most commonly we use Benadryl/Diphenhydramine (More Info/Dose @ A low dose (ie. 0.25mg per pound of their body weight twice daily) can just be enough to reduce any allergic irritation and does have a mild decongesting effect. Alternatively, you can also use Cetirizine (just 5mg for a cat) once daily. For either, we like to keep the dose low, since it can cause drowsiness (just like people). And of course, these shouldn't be used if your wee one has any known health issues or is on any other medication without speaking to your vet first.

Overall, these would be our concerns for her current signs. It won't be an age issue, but we do have to consider benign and sinister growths with her age. Therefore, we can try the above supportive care for her at this stage. Though if she doesn't settle, then we'd be best to think about having a local vet do a home visit or see if you have a local mobile vet that can come to her. That way they can examine her and pinpoint the root for her signs. Depending on their findings, they can identify which issue is present and help you address this as effectively as possible for Milo.

Please take care,

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 the only way I receive credit for helping 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.

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