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Dr. Deb
Dr. Deb, Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 10149
Experience:  I have been a practicing veterinarian for over 30 years.
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My cat must have gotten into something toxic and started

Customer Question

my cat must have gotten into something toxic and started sneezing a lot. Now she has a sore mouth and will not eat cat food. She does drink water. How long can she go without eating? It has been about three days.
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Deb replied 11 months ago.

Hello, I'm Dr. Deb and will do my best to help you today.

I'm sorry for this concern about Camille. I do have a few additional questions to ask about her first if you don't mind:

1. Does she have ulcers on her tongue or mouth? Is that what you mean about her mouth being sore? Is she drooling?

2. Does she also have any discharge from her nose or eyes in addition to the sneezing that she's doing?

3. Is she lethargic?

There may be a slight delay after I receive your answers since I have to type up a response to you. Thanks for your patience. Deb

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
she seems to have sores on the sides of her mouth. She is somewhat lethargic and does not want anyone to touch her, which is not unusual as she is not a very friendly cat. Her eyes seem to be ok but did have some previous discharge.
Expert:  Dr. Deb replied 11 months ago.

Thanks for the answers to my questions although I'm sorry that I was off my computer when you responded back.

I can understand why you might think she got into something toxic given the sores on her mouth but in most cases, these patients aren't going to be sneezing. I wouldn't completely rule it out but it's not just as likely. When both symptoms are present (with or without a nasal or eye discharge), then I'd want to rule out an Upper Respiratory Infection (URI) caused by a calici virus.

Herpes is the most common cause of an URI in cats but the mouth and mucous membranes aren't usually affected. When the underlying virus is Calici, then ulcers can develop on the nose, tongue and surfaces of the mouth which are very uncomfortable/painful. These cats will often drool or show disinterest in food if severe enough. In addition to antibiotics (there's often a secondary bacterial component when a URI is present), I'll dispense pain medication such as Buprenex although every vet has their preference.

Cats with URI's sometimes run fevers as well which might account for her lethargy. If you can take her temperature (not always the easiest thing to do in a cat), normal is between 100 and 102.5.

Most uri's will last about 10-14 days in case you were wondering.

Supportive care is critically important for these patients especially when they're older. Force feeding is often necessary if they aren’t eating. You can mix canned food (or human baby food but avoid onion and garlic formulations) with a lot of water in a blender and use an eye dropper or syringe to squirt some of this liquid into the side of the mouth where there's a gap.

Three days is longer than I'd like to see her go without food so I'd start the above as soon as possible.

Probiotics such as Forti Flora have been shown to help many of these cats with URI's; probiotics aren’t just useful for gastrointestinal issues. This particular product is available as a powder which is sprinkled on the food every day for those cats who are eating or mixed in with the canned food/water mixture that I mentioned. It can be purchased at many pet/grain stores or online.

I hope this helps although, again, my apologies for the delayed reply. Deb