Feline Upper Respiratory Infections
Posted May 18, 2017
your cat has irritated eyes, nasal discharge, and is sneezing and
feeling lethargic, they may have an upper respiratory infection
(URI). Feline URIs are commonly caused by certain viruses and
spread by exposure to infected cats and their secretions.
Though the viruses that cause feline URIs are present within cat
populations, Dr. Christine Rutter, clinical assistant professor at
the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical
Sciences, said many feline URIs are preventable through
vaccinations and other health precautions.
“Avoiding a URI infection includes avoiding contact with
infected or carrier cats,” Rutter said. “Keeping cats indoors,
boosting immunity with vaccination, and avoiding dense cat
populations such as shelters are key.”
Additionally, Rutter said if one cat in a multi-cat household
has a URI, all of the feline members of the household should be
considered infected and quarantined from cats outside of the
household. If the URI virus is in your home, use a common
disinfectant to effectively prevent the virus from spreading to
other cats. Hand washing and changing clothes after handling
infected cats will also keep other cats safe from contracting the
Despite these precautions, reoccurring symptoms of feline URIs
may occur in some cats throughout their lives. There are limited
remedies available for chronically effected cats, but Rutter
reminded owners that most cats can avoid developing a URI through
However, if a cat does develop a URI, Rutter said supportive
treatment is available to help most viruses run their course within
seven to 10 days.
More severe URIs may lead to other health concerns, such as
bacterial infections, eye infections, and even anorexia. In these
cases, antibiotics, plenty of fluids, and eye medications may be
required to help the cat regain its health.
Fortunately, the viruses that cause feline URIs are not
contagious to dogs and people. However, remember to vaccinate your
cat and regularly visit your veterinarian to prevent your furry
friend from developing a URI. If you notice that your cat is
showing symptoms of a URI, be sure to contact your
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