We have a 6 month old kitten. When we first got her she had some kind of cold and had a stuffed nose and was on

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Customer: Hello, we have a 6 month old kitten. When we first got her she had some kind of cold and had a stuffed nose and was on antibiotics (Clavamox) When we went for our first checkup (9/16) at the vet, we were told to stop using the antibiotics and on our second checkup (9/23) after she didnt improve, they gave us Erythromycin which we used for 5 days. After that it got better. In the last two days it seems that the cold came back and it is worse than before. She has a stuffed nose (trouble breathing) and is constantly sneezing. It also looks like her left eye is inflammated. Please advise us on what we should do.
JA: Hi there. I'll do all I can to help. I know breathing problems can certainly be worrying. Does the kitten have a cough as well?
Customer: No
JA: What's the kitten's name?
Customer: Cheeto
JA: Is there anything else the Vet should know before I connect you? Rest assured that they'll be able to help you.
Customer: We have two kittens (same age also female) and the other one (Dorito) hasn’t had any sickness. Also they got their first vaccination shot on 9/16
Answered by Dr. Amy Leigh in 4 hours 1 year ago
Dr. Amy Leigh
Pet Specialist

1,730 satisfied customers

Specialities include: Cat Veterinary, Cat Medicine, Cat Diseases, Small Animal Veterinary

Thank you for contacting JustAnswer with your questions. I'm sorry Cheeto is not feeling well.

-My name is***** have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian and am happy to help with your question.

-Veterinary Experts are able to provide general medical advice. We are NOT able to provide a diagnosis or prescribe medications. I can help you to determine if a veterinary visit is needed or if it seems reasonable to monitor and treat at home.

-You may be automatically prompted to consider a phone consultation for an additional fee. Unfortunately, I am not able to provide phone consultations. If you would like to continue the chat, just hit decline. If you would like a phone consultation, let me know and I will disconnect so you can speak with another Expert.

-I will do my best to respond to you as quickly as possible. Sometimes, my response may be delayed if I am helping other customers as well. I assure you that I will get back to you as soon as possible to answer all of your questions.

I'd like to ask you some questions so that I can provide the best advice possible


-Is there any discharge from the eyes or nose?

-Is she still eating and drinking well?

Only watery one
Yes she is eating and drinking
But her temper did change
She looks more tired

-Are you able to send a picture of the eye?

Did you get it

Is there cloudiness to the eye?

It looks like yes

-The signs are you are describing can be due to an upper respiratory infection. Symptoms may include sneezing, nasal discharge, runny eyes, coughing, fever, and a hoarse voice.

-Feline upper respiratory infections are highly contagious and present where ever cats live in groups. Getting infected is easy; a cat simply must socialize with an infected cat or share the same human caretaker, toys or food bowls.  It would seem that the average house cat would be at low risk for infection; however, it is important to realize how common upper respiratory infection is. In some areas, the infection rate is felt to be 60 percent or more. This means that there is a chance that any cat or kitten is already infected at the time of adoption regardless of whether the cat is showing any symptoms. Kittens are predisposed due to their immature immune systems and are usually hit the hardest. When these kittens grow up, they are still infected and symptoms may come out whenever stress suppresses their immune system.

-Typically, infected cats come from the shelter, are outdoor cats, or are housed in close contact with lots of other cats (experiencing crowding stress). Persian cats are predisposed to upper respiratory infection due to their inherent facial flattening. The average house cat who is not exposed to any rescued kittens lives with only one or two other cats at most, never goes outside, and leads a non-stressed life is unlikely to break with symptoms but may very well be asymptomatically infected.

-The chief infectious agents that cause feline upper respiratory infections are herpesvirus and calicivirus, together accounting for about 90 percent of infections. Other agents include Chlamydophila, Mycoplasma, Bordetella, and others. Of course, a cat or kitten may be infected with more than one agent.

-Viruses are spread by the wet sneezes of infected or carrier individuals. The herpes virus is fragile, surviving only 18 hours outside its host; calicivirus is tougher, lasting up to 30 days. Bleach will readily inactivate either virus but calicivirus is able to withstand unbleached laundry detergents.

-To some extent, the combinations of symptoms and course of infection are determined by which of numerous infectious agents are responsible. Ninety percent of feline upper respiratory infections are caused by either feline herpes (also called the rhinotracheitis virus) or feline calicivirus. Neither of these infections is transmissible to humans or to other animals.

-Most feline upper respiratory infections run a course of 7 to10 days regardless of treatment but it is important to realize that these infections are permanent and that herpesvirus infection are recurring (a property of all types of herpes infections). In kittens, herpes infections are notorious for dragging out. Stresses such as surgery (usually neutering/spaying), boarding, or introduction of a new feline companion commonly induce fresh herpes upper respiratory episode about a week following the stressful event, and the active virus sheds for another couple of weeks. These episodes may recur for the life of the cat, although as the cat matures, symptoms become less and less severe and ultimately may not be noticeable to the owner. Cats infected with calicivirus may shed virus continuously, not just in times of stress, and may do so for life, although about 50% of infected cats seem to stop shedding virus at some point.

-A cat with herpes is contagious to other cats for a couple of weeks after a stressful event. Cats infected with calicivirus are contagious for several months after infection but do not appear to have recurrences the same way cats with herpes do.

-The next most common infectious agents (after herpes and calici) are Chlamydophila felis and Bordetella bronchiseptica, both organisms being sensitive to the tetracycline family, such as doxycycline.

-Loss of appetite, open mouth breathing, high fever, extreme lethargy are all signs that immediate veterinary care is needed.

-An upper respiratory infection for a cat is usually just a nuisance like a cold usually is for one of us. Sometimes, though, an upper respiratory infection can be serious. If a cat is sick enough to stop eating or drinking, hospitalization may be needed to get through the brunt of the infection. A cat (usually a kitten) can actually get dehydrated from the fluid lost in nasal discharge. Painful ulcers can form on the eyes, nose, or in mouth, especially if calicivirus is involved. Sometimes fever is high enough to warrant monitoring. In young kittens, pneumonia may result from what started as an upper respiratory infection.

-If you think your cat or kitten is significantly uncomfortable with their signs, it is best to have them evaluated by a veterinarian.

-How an upper respiratory infection is treated depends on how severe it is and whether or not there seems to be a bacterial infection complicating the viral infection. A mildly symptomatic adult cat might need no treatment at all as the symptoms should naturally wane over one to two weeks. A heavily congested kitten is likely to need antibiotics, antivirals, and possibly even hospitalization.

-Antibiotics act not only on bacteria that complicate viral infections but some upper respiratory infections are bacterial and not viral at all.

-The next most common infectious agents (after herpes and calici) are Chlamydophila felis (formerly known as Chlamydia psittaci) and Bordetella bronchiseptica, both organisms being sensitive to the tetracycline family (such as doxycycline). For this reason, when antibiotics are selected, tetracyclines and their relatives are frequently chosen. Other commonly used antibiotics are:  Clavamox®, azithromycin, cephalexin, and clindamycin. Oral medications, and/or eye ointments are commonly prescribed. Severely affected cats may need to have inhalational antibiotics, fluids administered intravenously or under the skin to maintain hydration, and/or some sort of assisted feedings.

-Some cats are severely affected and addressing the secondary bacterial infection is simply not enough to achieve comfort. For these situations, antiviral medications such as famciclovir can be used to address the actual viral infection and often even chronic symptoms can be controlled at least temporarily.

-Cats are too small to be able to meaningfully blow their noses or sneeze out very dry or thick sinus secretions. Oral supplementation with N-Acetylcysteine can be helpful in breaking down this material.

-More chronically infected cats with severely blocked sinuses can have their sinuses flushed out under anesthesia. This can clear a great deal of material out of the nasal passages but how long results persist is variable.

-Consult your veterinarian before attempting any sort of home treatment.

-Vaccination is unlikely to be completely preventive for the upper respiratory viruses and is instead meant to minimize the severity of the symptoms. In selecting a vaccine against upper respiratory infections, there are some choices. First, choose between a nasal vaccine and an injectable vaccine.

-The injectable vaccines that typically include feline distemper were developed first, and when vaccines for upper respiratory infections were created they were simply added to the basic distemper injectable vaccine. Since that time, science has developed a more localized form of vaccination to better address more localized types of infections.

-If you select the injectable route of vaccination, you have to decide if you want a “four in one” or a “three in one” vaccine. You may vaccinate your cat for distemper, herpesvirus, and calicivirus, or you may vaccinate for distemper, herpesvirus, calicivirus, and Chlamydophila felis. Because herpes and calicivirus together account for 90% of upper respiratory infections and Chlamydophila accounts for less than 10% of upper respiratory infections, the American Association of Feline Practitioner vaccination guidelines favor the “three in one” vaccine and consider the Chlamydophila vaccine optional.

-There is some feeling that nasal vaccines may provide a more complete stimulation to the area of the immune system responsible for defense against the infection in question. Nasal vaccination provides protection especially rapidly (3 or 4 days). Herpes and calicivirus vaccines can be given either nasally or by injection.

-A particularly virulent strain of calicivirus, commonly referred to as hemorrhagic calicivirus, has appeared to pop up out of nowhere. While few outbreaks have been reported, it is possible more have occurred and gone unrecognized. Hemorrhagic calicivirus is highly contagious and rapidly fatal. A vaccine called Calicivax is available just for this form of calicivirus. While the infection is rare, you may wish to vaccinate your cat for it and/or discuss this option with your veterinarian.

-Since the signs keep returning, it is likely that Cheeto has a herpes virus.

-The cloudiness of his eye is concerning for injury to the cornea. This is often due to dry eye caused by herpes virus.

-It would be best to have Cheeto evaluated by a veterinarian as soon as possible to treat any injury to the eye to keep it from getting worse.

-There are tests to help determine the cause of the upper respiratory infection so that anti-viral medications can be prescribed if needed.

Do you have any questions?

Thanks for the response I will contact our vet tomorrow

You're very welcome. I hope the information was helpful and Cheeto is feeling much better soon. Thank you for trusting JustAnswer with your questions. It was my pleasure to help you today. If you need further information regarding this question or need clarification on the recommendations, please let me know. I am happy to help.

Thank you!

You're welcome.

I hope you were able to get an appointment for Cheeto soon. Please feel free to reach out with any questions.

Thank you! We have appointment today at 12 at our vet clinic

That's good news. Talk with them about the potential for herpes virus and the use of anti-viral medications as well. Remember, there is a test that can be done to try to determine the type of infection. It has to be done before antibiotics are started.

I will for sure! Thanks again!

You're welcome.

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Dr. Amy Leigh
1,730 satisfied customers
Pet Specialist
Dr. Amy Leigh
+ years of experience

1730 satisfied customers



Licensed veterinarians

31,131 satisfied customers

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