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Thursday night my cat started sneezing continually, pawing

his nose and shaking his...
Thursday night my cat started sneezing continually, pawing his nose and shaking his head. He was acting perfectly ok, playing, eating...just sneezing. No nasal or eye discharge. Took him to the vet Friday and he thought it was either an irritant or allergy and gave him a dexamethasone injection. His sneezing got about 90% better but he got very lethargic, just lying around and not wanting to play. He ate but not quite up to par. Today he is still lethargic but the sneezing has come back just like it was Thursday. I called the vet and he wants to put him on an antihistamine. He is only 1, I don't want to condemn my poor cat to a lifetime of medication. Steroids are out, I will not give them to a one year old cat on a continuing basis. He is a shelter kitty and had some kind of really bad respiratory infection when he was there. I can't help but think that he may have something stuck in his nasal passages or maybe even has some kind of infection. I really don't know what to do, I don't want to just drug my cat. If this is allergies are there allergy shots for cats? Who would I take him to for tests, he has no skin problems so a dermatologist wouldn't work. Is there a hypoallergenic cat litter I could try? Should I ask for an antibiotic or request the vet to look in his nose and throat for a foreign body. Would the response to the steroid rule out a foreign body or infection? Any suggestions would be appreciated.
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Answered in 10 minutes by:
7/9/2013
Pet Doc
Pet Doc, Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 7,661
Experience: Veterinarian - BVSc
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Hi there,

Thanks for your question regarding your 1 year old boy Beau who has had a sneezing issue over the last few nights. Good on you for following up on this with your local Vet so promptly. It sounds like the steroid may have helped to settle some nasal inflammation which may have been contributing to the sneeze, but no, this wouldn't rule out a nasal foreign body. Given he is such a young boy, I do also think that a naso-esophageal foreign body is a high possibility here and I really think this needs further investigation before any further medications are given to Beau.

I have collected countless blades of grass, barley grass seeds and other foreign bodies from the nasal/pharyngeal cavaties of young cats like Beau. Checking this is relatively easy and involves a quick anesthetic to check behind the soft palate for any foreign bodies. Your Vet can also have a look up the nostrils to see if there is anything closer to the external opening of the nares. This is the best first place to start. If nothing was found, then I would recommend a bacterial and viral swab from the nasopharynx to rule out a bacterial and/or viral issue as the cause here. Your Vet may be able to see if there is bad rhinitis during this examination as well (irritation of the nasal cavity).

If nothing at all was found or cultured, then yes, anti inflammatories and even a precautious antibiotic would be a good idea. If this was going to be short term treatment - then another steroid injection would be ok, however longterm, the risk of complications are high (diabetes etc). If longterm steroids were needed, then inhaled steroids would likely be the best option (as used for feline asthma) as these would have minimal side effects.

It is less likely for this to be an allergic rhinitis, but if nothing else is found, then your Vet could run an IgE blood panel to look for potential allergens that could be causing this for Beau.

As for a hypoallergenic cat litter - I'm not sure of any particular brands that are better than others, however you might find some good tips online here: http://www.petproductadvisor.com/buyers-guide/hypoallergenic-cat-litter-how-to-select-the-best-hypoallergenic-cat-litter/39/page1.aspx

Best of luck with Beau and do follow up on this with your Vet tomorrow if you can. I think getting his nasopharynx checked for a foreign body is the best place to start.

Kind Regards

Dr Edwards
Pet Doc
Pet Doc, Cat Veterinarian
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Customer reply replied 4 years ago


So to look up his nose you just use an anesthetic...do you sedate the cat first or is that necessary? A foreign body was what I thought when I took him in on Friday because Beau is a VERY active cat and he plays and chases things all the time, he constantly has his nose stuck in something. My vet closed off one nostril at a time and said the congestion was bilateral and that ruled out a foreign body. But a little tiny something wouldn't block his nostril, just irritate his nose, right? And he keeps yawning, I'm wondering if that is because something is dangling down his throat?


So if it came to being an allergy, a blood test will show the antibodies to particular antigens? That's way better than the skin tests I had to have! And there are the inhaled steroids for veterinary use? That is wonderful...they have hardly any side effects.

Hi again Cindy,

Yes - a full anesthetic is generally needed as this prevents the gag reflex to be able to visualise this area properly. Typically a sedative isn't enough. The full anesthetic would only usually be for 5 - 10 minutes max however.

If there is something further back in his nasal cavity rather than in his nostril, then this would cause 'bilateral congestion' - so that doesn't rule out a foreign body in the nasopharynx which is typically where they would sit. Generally something like a grass blade would sit above the soft palate and dangle down into his throat as you say.

Yes - there are inhaled steroids. Typically fluticasone is used and it is generally only used for asthma, but I am sure there are Vets that use it for allergic rhinitis. The blood test is very good - yes it shows if there are any antibodies and it saves the intradermal tests that most dermatologists use.

Definitely follow up on this with your Vet when you get a chance.

Kind Regards,

Dr Edwards
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Customer reply replied 4 years ago


One more question and then I'll stop. The dexamethasone injection....could that have caused the behavior change in him? He has been so quite and has been sleeping a lot. He even let the other cat have his perch on the cat tree and that is unheard of. Tonight he seems to want to do something but when he tries he starts sneezing. The only relief he gets is when he's asleep.

Hi Cindy,

No problem - I'm happy to answer your questions. The dexamethasone injection only really lasts in the system for 48 hours max, so while it is possible this is the cause of his lethargy, I think it is less likely. It could just be because he is irritated, or this could indeed be due to an infection or viral issue. He could potentially have a bout of snuffles (cat flu) even if he is up to date with vaccinations.

I would recommend getting him seen tomorrow to follow up on this if he is sneezing quite frequently.

Kind Regards,

Dr E
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Customer reply replied 4 years ago

I will. Poor guy can't stop sneezing, it's almost continuous. Would saline drops maybe help tonight?

Hi Cindy,

No - you are best not to try and do anything like that. Try and get him booked in tomorrow if you can. If they are going to look down his throat under an anesthetic, then that means he can't have any breakfast in the morning - so bear that in mind. That would mean taking up his food now but ensuring he had water the entire time.

Best of luck,

Dr E
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Customer reply replied 4 years ago

Thank you so much. You have been most helpful. Sorry I had so many questions but Beau is my baby boy.

No problem Cindy!

If you ever have any other questions regarding your boy again in the future, I would love to be able to help. You can reach me via my profile or just add "For Dr Edwards" at the start of the question.

Kind Regards,

Dr E
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Customer reply replied 4 years ago

Tried to get Beau scoped today and could not find a regular vet in my area that does it. Have to take him to a specialist who gave me an apt in 10 days. I am tempted to try one of these antihistamines to see if by chance they would help him. They are chlorphreninamine. What side effects are usual with this?

Hi again Cindy,

The most common side effects are sedation, lethargy, vomiting and diarrhea.

You can read more about this online here: http://www.petplace.com/drug-library/chlorpheniramine-maleate-chlor-trimeton/page1.aspx

Kind Regards,

Dr E
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Customer reply replied 4 years ago

thanks!

No problem Cindy
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Hi Cindy,

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

Pet Doc
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Customer reply replied 4 years ago


As I told you, we have to wait until the 19th to have the scope done. His sneezing has actually gotten better, he seems to mostly sneeze with activity now. His nose is really congested though, I can hear him breathing when I'm close to him. I was just thinking about trying one of those nasal decongestants for babies. He is getting so he is not interested in food which is totally abnormal for him but I'm guessing it's because he can't smell. I stick it right under his nose and he will eat but otherwise, no. He had a bad respiratory infection when he was a kitten, he came from a shelter, I'm starting to wonder if that's what he has now.


Thanks so much for checking on us.

Yes - this could potentially be something viral like herpes or calicivirus, so make sure your Vet takes a swab during/after the scoping.

Best of luck and keep in touch,

Dr E
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Customer reply replied 4 years ago


I'm really thinking now Beau had a respiratory infection. He is acting far more normal than he was, has gotten some of his energy back, and (knock on wood) is eating better. Started taking him into the bathroom and steaming him, seems to make him feel better. Still sneezing some but not every time he moves. Sure hope that doesn't start up again. All and all, he is improving. Hope it continues. Some URIs in cats can last a couple of weeks, right?

Hi Cindy,

Yes, sometimes they last much longer than that as well depending on the underlying cause. Perhaps your Vet could take a bacterial and viral swab for culture before the 19th?

Dr E
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Customer reply replied 4 years ago


I am going to ask. Would sure hate to put him through that scope for no reason.

If the scope isn't until the 19th, then it is worth ruling something else out in the meantime.
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Customer reply replied 4 years ago

I agree. He is fully vaccinated but from what I have read, if he had the herpes virus as a kitten it can recur. He was extremely ill at the shelter and ended up having to be hospitalized for a couple of days. But I don't think anybody ever cultured anything. And he has been stressed lately. My dog had back surgery and the household routine has been quite disrupted as well as Beau having to give up his favorite room to the dog. He is not happy about that.


I added a small bonus just now. I really do appreciate all the information and moral support you have given me.

Thank you very much for the bonus - that is very kind of you. If he had herpes virus as a kitten, the yes - stress can cause recrudescence of the virus. It is definitely worth doing a viral swab for herpes and calicivirus for this reason.

Keep in touch,

Dr E
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Customer reply replied 4 years ago

I think the mystery has been solved. My other cat is sneezing and not feeling well now. Beau is much better. So guess he had something contagious. Will take my girl to the vet tomorrow.

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