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All 3 of my unvaccinated cats are sneezing. Is this a sign…

All 3 of my...

All 3 of my unvaccinated cats are sneezing. Is this a sign of feline distemper?

Veterinarian's Assistant: I'm sorry to hear that. What is the cat's name and age?

Taffy is 8, Smokey is 6 and Trouble is 4 (all ages are approx.)

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Answered in 2 minutes by:
11/10/2017
Dr. Jo
Dr. Jo, Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 3,480
Experience: DVM from Iowa State University in 1994; actively engaged in private regular and emergency practice since that time.
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Hello,
I'm Dr. Jo and I'm a licensed veterinarian with more than twenty years of experience, and I'm here to help with your question about your cats.

I'm so sorry you're having this problem, but I'm glad you're looking for the information you need. You may join the conversation at any time by typing in what you want to say then clicking REPLY or SEND. Then we can chat back and forth until you're satisfied with the information I've provided. I'll do my best to earn your good rating, because that's the only way I receive any compensation for helping you.
To start with, I want to let you know that while it's *possible* this could be distemper, there are also a lot of other things it could be. I'll explain in more detail below. Meanwhile, can you please tell me if the cats are otherwise bright and happy and still eating okay in spite of the sneezing?
I'll be standing by awaiting your reply. Thank you.

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Customer reply replied 9 months ago
The 1st cat to start sneezing, Smokey, has pretty much stopped. The 2nd cat, Taffy, is only sneezing a little. Those 2 seem to be eating and acting normal. The 3rd cat, Trouble, is still sneezing a lot. His eyes are a little teary and he seems a little more clingy. I'm not sure if he is eating.
Customer reply replied 9 months ago
I am anxiously awaiting my answer.
Customer reply replied 9 months ago
I do not want an answer by phone. I would like an answer in writing please.
Customer reply replied 9 months ago
I already paid $26 and do not want to pay an additional $28. I would like my $26 answer now please. I am very worried about my cats. They are like my children.

I am reading your reply now and typing in more...

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Here's the scoop on feline distemper... it's impossible to tell the difference between any of the viruses that cause upper respiratory infections in cats just by how they look, especially at first. The laboratory test that is done to tell the difference between the distemper virus and any of the other types of viruses is quite technical and expensive and takes a while, and simply is not practical as a result. Because of that, we usually don't know what the actual virus is behind a cat's "cold".

*typing more

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With that in mind, it's important to recognize that the other viruses that cause cat "colds" are much more common than distemper. That means that - statistically speaking - it is far more likely that your cats do NOT have distemper.

These other viruses that cause "colds" don't carry the poor prognosis of distemper. While distemper ends up being fatal to most cats who get it, these other viruses simply cause what looks like a cold, run their course, then go away.

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Some of these viruses (like herpes and calici) may linger for a while and cause symptoms that come and go throughout a cat's life, but they are generally not life-threatening and do not require treatment.

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If I am understanding correctly, Smokey was the first one to get sick and has already recovered, right?

If that's the case, that makes it even LESS likely this is distemper. With distemper, cats will typically start out showing signs of what looks like a typical cold, then they get sicker, stop eating, lose their energy, and most will die within a week or two.
They don't get better.

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The fact your cats are fully grown adults also makes it less likely this is distemper. And, on the rare chance it is distemper, older cats are more likely to survive.

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So, to be clear, even a trip to the vet with a full examination would not give you a definitive answer on if this is distemper or not, BUT if your cats are only sneezing, continue to eat, and start to get better without any form of treatment, this is NOT the picture we see with distemper.

Does that make sense the way I explained it? I want to be as helpful as possible because I know what it's like to worry.

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Since Trouble is the youngest, it's reasonable that he's going to get a little sicker than everyone else before he gets better. If he truly has stopped eating, it would be a good idea to get him into the vet so he can benefit from some supportive care or other treatment.

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Please keep in mind that feline distemper is actually a very rare disease. The most common presentation is a young kitten with vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and appetite loss. As you can see, this isn't a match with what you've described, so that's very reassuring.

This link is to a website that provides a brief but accurate description of feline distemper, including its diagnosis and treatment. It may help address any additional questions you may have. I'm hopeful reading this information will help to put your mind at ease.

http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?A=1983

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How else may I help you today?

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Please let me know if you have any additional questions. I do hope this information has been very helpful to you. If you are satisfied with the information I've provided, please take a moment to rate my response. I've done my best to provide you with the most accurate, thorough and up-to-date information that is available, and your positive feedback is important to me. Without it, I receive no compensation for helping you.If you are not satisfied, please let me know how else I may be of assistance.Thank you for using our website.

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Hello,

Just checking in to ask how your cats are doing today? As I mentioned yesterday, each day that goes by without anyone getting sicker means it's less and less likely this is distemper.

Thank you,

Dr. Jo

Dr. Jo
Dr. Jo, Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 3,480
Experience: DVM from Iowa State University in 1994; actively engaged in private regular and emergency practice since that time.
Verified
Dr. Jo and 87 other Cat Veterinary Specialists are ready to help you
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Hi,
I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?
Dr. Jo
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