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Respiratory Infection in Kittens

Medha Godbole May 10, 2019
An upper respiratory infection can be a real bad patch for your beloved kitten. It gets a runny nose and watery eyes on account of it. Here are some more facts about this disorder.
Cat owners cannot bear the agony of anything happening to their beloved pets. Especially if it is a respiratory infection. It is a miserable time for both the feline and the owner. The kitten because it is suffering, and the owner as he or she is equally aggrieved seeing the pet's plight.
This infection is contagious and can be detrimental to the cat's health. It attacks the nasal passages and sinuses. If not taken care of immediately, it can pose further problems.

Upper Respiratory Infection in Felines

Causes and Transmission

The most prominent and common cause of this infection is either bacterial or viral. Feline herpes and calicivirus are chiefly responsible. Cats in animal shelters, in the vicinity of human beings, and in feral colonies where they are in high numbers, are highly prone to this infection.
Another important aspect of the contagiousness of this infection is that the cats who have been affected by this disease previously are silent carriers. This means that they shed this virus and can be responsible for spreading it among other cats. Interestingly, those who transmit this virus do not show any symptoms of it.


The symptoms are limited to the upper body. Therefore, as the name suggests, they are sneezing, considerable and noticeable nasal discharge, red and bloody nose due to bad sneezing bouts, oral ulcers, depression, lack of appetite, pasty discharge from eyes, and open mouth breathing due to congestion of the nose.
The nasal discharge is usually clear and watery in the beginning and might not be noticed by the owner. These symptoms are generally negligible and mild for the first 2 or 3 days. They worsen as the infection gains momentum. The range of the incubation period can be as expansive as 2 to 17 days.


The treatment depends on how perfect and quick the diagnosis is. A correct diagnosis is based on history and clinical signs. Laboratory tests for feline leukemia virus (FeLV) or feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) could prove to be helpful as these two can cause the immune system to weaken, facilitating an attack of respiratory infection.
Once the infection is confirmed/diagnosed, the treatment starts. The first line of treatment is antibiotics - amoxyllin, making sure that the kitten is properly hydrated and given proper nutrition. If the infection becomes very serious, then the animal may have to be hospitalized. If this is not done, it can contract fatal pneumonia.
Some cats have latent, long-lasting signs which could recur if it is stressed out or is not feeling well. Hence, the bottom line is to provide good, nutritious food and proper care. If the treatment is started in the initial stages immediately after diagnosis, the infection can be cured and the cat will be healthy once again.


In a shelter situation, it is difficult to prevent this infection. Quite a few cats are silent carriers. When they go to the shelter, they transmit the virus to other cats. In a household situation, vaccinating the cat can be helpful in preventing this infection.
However, the vaccination is more effective only if the cat has not been infected with herpes and calicivirus. Even otherwise, it is better to vaccinate it.
Considering all this, it can be said that this infection does not have a major mortality rate, and if treated properly and before things go out of control, the cat or kitten can recover fully. One has to make sure that the signs are identified as early as possible and acted upon.