Sinus Infection in a Feline
- Sniffling, excessive nasal discharge, discharge from the eyes, coughing, gagging, sneezing and post-nasal drip are common symptoms of a sinus infection. Post-nasal drip is a common symptom that goes unnoticed, wherein the excessive secretions are being drained from the sinuses through the back of the throat. This can lead the cat to feel nauseated.
- A sinus infection may be caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi or even seasonal allergies. Underlying risk factors such as a compromised immune system created by feline leukemia virus (FLV) or feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) may lead to an increase in sinus issues. The use of corticosteroids is also indicated as a risk factor for sinus infections in cats, as this class of drugs can compromise the immune system, leaving the cat open to all sorts of infections. Younger kittens, as well as geriatric felines, are more apt to become ill with a sinus infection than healthy adult cats.
- Rhinotracheitis is a condition caused by the herpes virus. It attacks the respiratory system, causing all of the same symptoms as a sinus infection and more. The cat's trachea may swell, making vocalization difficult or impossible. Ulcers of the tongue and cornea may also be present, but less often than other symptoms. This virus spreads rapidly among cats via contact with the infected feline. The virus can remain dormant for years even after symptoms have cleared up, and is still transmissible even when symptoms are not present. Rhinotrachetitis is not zoonotic, and cannot be spread to humans or other species of animals. A cat may have recurrent episodes throughout its entire life.
Another severe illness that mimics the symptoms of a sinus infection is feline calcivirus. Similar to rhinotrachetitis, calcivirus is spread through direct contact with shed particles from an infected cat. Unlike a sinus infection or rhinotrachetitis, calcivirus is marked by ulcers of the tongue and hard palate leading to a loss of appetite, severe depression and heavy drooling. This disease is not zoonotic, and most cats recover within one to four weeks.
- A veterinary professional is the only person legally allowed to give a diagnosis regarding your cat. Seek veterinary advice upon noticing the problems, keeping a detailed list of things you observe. This list will help your veterinarian come to a diagnosis and treatment plan.
For a simple sinus infection, many veterinarians will prescribe a decongestant to clear up secretions and an antibiotic to ward off any primary or secondary bacterial infections. More severe causes warrant more severe treatment, but your veterinarian will test for those diseases and come up with an appropriate treatment plan should they arise.
Signs of an Emergency
- Trouble breathing, refusal to eat or drink, excessive lethargy, increased diarrhea or vomiting, red eyes with a discharge or a temperature of over 104 degrees F. are signs of a serious illness. Emergency veterinary attention should be sought immediately.