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Ask Dr. Kara Your Own Question
Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 16311
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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My cat is gagging like he is trying to throw something up

Customer Question

Hi, my cat is gagging like he is trying to throw something up and has raspy meowing and wheezing hes also hiding under our bed
JA: I'm sorry to hear that. Cats have coughing problems all the time but it is worrying. The Expert will know what you should do. What is the cat's name and age?
Customer: his name is ***** ***** he is 4 years old and thank you. he has what is very similar to something i am reading right now but its not exactly coughing and there is no sneezing occuring
JA: Is there anything else the Veterinarian should be aware of about WInston?
Customer: He is just acting really slow and is not being himself. We have also recently introduced him to a new kitten
Submitted: 11 days ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 11 days ago.

Hello, I'm Dr. Kara. I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian and I'd like to help. Please give me a moment to review your concerns.

Customer: replied 11 days ago.
My four year old tabby, Winston, has been acting lethargic since last night.He has been gagging- as if he is trying to throw something up, is acting very slow, hiding under my couch, and has a very raspy purr and meow. It does not sound normal , like the way he usually sounds.I feel like he may have swallowed something perhaps? He is not coughing or sneezing either. His eyes seem a bit glossy.I also want to mention he have introduced a new kitten to him a few days ago but the kitten is vaccinated and does not show any similar signs.
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 11 days ago.

I'm sorry to hear about Winston's raspy voice, wheezing, lethargy, hiding, gagging, and probable sore throat. Does he have a decreased appetite?

I know that he isn't sneezing but this does sound like an upper respiratory infection. Symptoms can range from a sore throat, loss of voice, lethargy, fever, nasal and/or eye discharge, sneezing and coughing. I suspect his change in voice and gagging are due to a very sore, swollen throat with increased amounts of mucous. These infections are easily picked up as they are spread by aerosol when a sick cat sneezes or through nasal or oral secretions when kitties share food and water bowls and litter boxes. Although your new kitten seems healthy it is possible that he/she was sick and was still shedding virus particles when he/she came to live with you. Just like a cold in us most of these are caused by viruses. Most respiratory infections clear up with supportive care and don't need any sort of medication. For the most part these viruses run their course in 7 to 10 days. There are some viruses however that are more virulent or aggressive than others.
If your cat has an immunosuppressive virus like Feline Leukemia or Feline Immunodeficiency Virus he may be sicker, longer or be more likely to get pneumonia and need veterinary care. Has he been tested for these viruses? Has the new kitten been tested for these as well? If not that would be something I recommend your veterinarian doing if his symptoms persist beyond a couple weeks.

Some of these viruses can cause severe ulceration of the mouth and gastrointestinal tract which will interfere with eating. If he isn't eating well to help reduce the amount of gastric acid being produced (which makes these ulcers more painful) you can give Pepcid ac (famotidine) at a dose of 1/4 of a 10mg tablet per 5 to 10 pounds of body weight every 12 hours. This may help him eat a little better.

It's also possible that he has a very sore throat and that makes swallowing painful.

Supportive care includes making sure he continues to eat. Spoiling him by warming some canned food or adding tuna or meat baby food to increase its smell and palatability is fine if his appetite is off. Encourage water drinking and add water to the food if necessary. If he won't eat and drink on his own at all after 24 to 48 hours of not eating you will need to use a syringe (medicine dropper) and force feed him and get fluids in. You can use canned food mixed with water or meat baby foods.
His throat may feel better if you put him in the bathroom with you when you take hot steamy showers.

If he starts to sneeze and his nose gets very congested you can use sterile saline nose drops to loosen the mucous and flush it out. He probably won't like it much but it will help him to breathe easier.
You can use sterile saline to flush the eyes if he gets a lot of mucous in them and artificial tears several times a day to keep them hydrated and comfortable.
Sometimes these viruses will become a chronic problem leading to on and off episodes of sneezing or eye discharge. Two common respiratory diseases are caused by Herpes virus or Chlamydia. You can give him an L-lysine supplement at a dose of 500mg orally twice daily to help shorten the infection's duration and it may curtail outbreaks by interfering with virus replication.
If he develops a discharge that is green or yellow that indicates a secondary bacterial infection in which case oral antibiotics will be helpful. He will need to see his veterinarian for those.
If he runs a fever more then 104F, stops eating entirely, or is very lethargic or has a bloody nasal discharge he should see his veterinarian.
Other possibilities for his symptoms are a nasopharyngeal polyp or a mass on his larynx so if he's not improving at all after a week he should be seen by your family veterinarian.

Let me know if you have any further questions.

Customer: replied 11 days ago.
Thank you Dr. Kara.I really hope it is just a upper respiratory infection.I also just tried feeding Winston breakfast- half a can of food mixed with water , he tried eating but kept gagging after.
He seems to have an appetite and is not hiding under the couch anymore, which is a good sign.Should I keep him and the new kitten separated for now? The kitten did have the infection a few weeks ago but the cats were not yet introduced so what you are saying does make sense.The kitten was tested for the autoimmune viruses and for feline leukemia.I plan on taking Winston to my local vet as soon as they open, which is in an hour.Thank you again for your help and detailed response, I appreciate it.
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 11 days ago.

It probably won't help to keep them separated now, as the infection has already been passed to him.

I'm glad he at least wanted to eat. I think a veterinary visit is best. Your veterinarian can give him an injection to help decrease inflammation and depending upon how things look, maybe some buprenorphine to control pain too.

I am glad the new little one was already tested for immunosuppressive viruses, that takes away some of the worry.

Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 8 days ago.

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

Dr. Kara