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What is Nose and Sinus Inflammation?

Inflammation of the nose and sinus is a common and sometimes serious problem in cats. It can be a primary condition acute in nature, but more often it is a result of a systemic disorder such as infection. Occasionally, it can be idiopathic, meaning its source is unknown and makes treatment more difficult. Chronic rhinosinusitis may persist over the life of your cat. It can be a challenge to manage and there is no cure. However, nose and sinus inflammation is rarely life-threatening to cats and is often easily treated with antibiotics unless there is a serious and chronic underlying condition associated with it. In such cases, treatment will include addressing the symptoms and causes of the identified disorder.

When the lining of the mucous membranes of the nose is inflamed, the condition is called rhinitis. Inflammation of the lining of the sinuses is termed sinusitis. The two conditions often occur together, creating rhinosinusitis, but not always. Left untreated, the condition can inhibit the function of the mucous membranes of the nasal passage,s leaving the lungs to handle the filtering of dust and microorganisms, which often leads to an upper respiratory infection.

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Nose and Sinus Inflammation Average Cost

From 590 quotes ranging from $200 - $2,000

Average Cost

$700

Symptoms of Nose and Sinus Inflammation in Cats

A runny nose and sneezing may be your first signs of rhinosinusitis in your cat. You should not dismiss the condition as a mere common cold if you also see these other symptoms: 

  • Nasal discharge
  • Sneezing, frequently episodic
  • Stuffy nose
  • Bleeding from the nose
  • Dehydration
  • Respiratory noise while inhaling
  • Discharge and tears from the eyes 
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Labored breathing, possibly with open mouth breathing
  • Coughing
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
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Causes of Nose and Sinus Inflammation in Cats

Feline herpes viral rhinotracheitis and feline calicivirus infection are the most common causes of acute rhinitis and sinusitis in cats, although other viruses could also be at fault. Bacterial infections often occur after the initial onset of a viral infection. Other possible causes are:

  • Fungal infection, especially Cryptococcosis 
  • Parasites
  • Presence of a foreign object
  • Blocked nasolacrimal duct in the nose
  • Indoor and outdoor allergies 
  • Dental disease
  • Trauma
  • Systemic hypertension
  • Vasculitis
  • Nasopharyngeal or sinus masses including polyps
  • Genetic defects such as palate abnormalities
  • Impaired immune system
  • Cancer
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Diagnosis of Nose and Sinus Inflammation in Cats

A basic physical examination will first be conducted, which will include your cat’s nose and nasal cavity, eyes, mouth, and ears. Your veterinarian will be looking for evidence not only of swelling, but also of polyps, dental disease, and infection. If clinical signs indicate any of these, additional testing will be needed to identify the underlying cause. 

A complete blood count, urinalysis, and serum biochemistry will be performed to test for viral, fungal, and bacterial infections. Feline leukemia virus and feline immunodeficiency virus are common causes of chronic rhinitis and sinusitis and can be detected through blood tests. Your cat’s blood pressure will be monitored to find signs of hypertension, and a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test may be performed to check for herpesvirus 1 and calicivirus, both common causes of upper and lower respiratory diseases in cats.

If there are signs of concern, your veterinarian may decide to perform x-rays, a CT scan, or an MRI scan of the skull to further check your cat’s nasal passages, sinuses, dental health, and overall bone health. These tests will be conducted under anesthesia. A rhinoscopy or a nasal biopsy may also be done at this time to further exam your cat. A rhinoscopy will help to identify any congenital disorders, and a biopsy taken from the back of the nasal cavity will aid in determining the presence of a bacterial or fungal infection. 

Slide samples of mucus from the nose may be taken for testing, but the results are not always conclusive since it is often difficult to distinguish between the negatively affecting agents and the good flora in the nasal passages.

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Treatment of Nose and Sinus Inflammation in Cats

Although there is no cure for rhinitis and sinusitis, topical and systemic antibiotics along with antihistamine and anti-inflammatory medications such as glucocorticoids and NSAIDS will help to reduce the symptoms in mild to acute cases. The length of treatment is dependent on your cat’s response. Chronic conditions may be treated symptomatically.

If the condition has severely progressed, intravenous fluids may be necessary to prevent dehydration and nutritional support given through a feeding tube to stop or prevent weight loss. Treatment will then be more directly addressed toward the underlying cause. 

Usually, rhinitis and sinusitis are treated only with medication since removal of the inflamed areas, polyps, or any other masses are rarely necessary or permanently successful. Your veterinarian may discuss surgical options with you if your cat is not responding to antibiotic therapy, however. Radiation therapy may also be an option, depending on the underlying cause of the inflammation.

Since antibiotics have no effect on viruses, your veterinarian may choose to administer a feline herpesvirus vaccine that may help shorten and minimize recurrence of symptoms of infection in the future. It is not a preventative treatment and is only meant to lessen your cat’s symptoms. 

Rhinosinusitis caused by a fungus can be treated with antifungal therapy once the particular source has been identified. Note that chronic rhinosinusitis along with fungal infection may require a longer course of treatment, possibly 4-6 weeks or more.

Acupuncture therapy has been shown to relieve rhinitis and sinusitis for some cats.

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Recovery of Nose and Sinus Inflammation in Cats

The prognosis for primary bacterial sinusitis and rhinitis is excellent, with symptoms resolving within two weeks of treatment. The prognosis for secondary conditions is dependent on how successful the treatment is for the underlying cause. If the cause is unknown, symptoms may reoccur with varying response to treatment. 

Discuss with your veterinarian all available options as well as predictions for outcome and how you may best provide care to your cat if your cat is experiencing chronic rhinitis or sinusitis along with a systemic disease.

Because rhinitis and sinusitis are usually secondary conditions, it can usually be prevented by supporting your cat’s immune system through routine vaccinations, practicing good hygiene, keeping a clean home, and ensuring your cat eats a healthy diet every day.

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Nose and Sinus Inflammation Average Cost

From 590 quotes ranging from $200 - $2,000

Average Cost

$700

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Nose and Sinus Inflammation Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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american shorthair

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Twelve Years

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Unknown severity

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Noisy Breathing

My 12 yo Am Shorthair female indoor cat has always snored but in the last six months has also developed a soft lump on the bridge of her nose, constant runny nose and eyes that both occasionally have blood & occasional severe nose bleeds & congested breathing. She has lost quite a bit of weight & prefers soft food now. She is still drinking water & her temperament/playfulness is still good. Her breath smells & she is constantly washing her face so her left paw is always messy from the mucus/discharge. We treated her with 3 rounds of fungal meds that did nothing. I am at my wits end. Help.

Dec. 14, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question, I'm sorry that your cat is having problems. I think the next step would be some x-rays, as she may have a growth or tumor in her nose. They may be able to see something on x-rays, or she may need some endoscopy. Your veterinarian will be able to help guide you to the next step. I hope that everything goes well for her and she feels better soon.

Dec. 17, 2020

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Domestic Long Hair

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Nine Years

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Unknown severity

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Lump On Bridge Of Nose.

Hi I was stroking my cat and noticed a lump on the bridge of her nose. She has always snores and breathes through her mouth. She has do e this since we rescued her as a kitten. The lump have found today? She does have Kidney Stones.

Sept. 29, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. It isn't possible to tell from your picture what is going on with her nose If you have noticed the lump recently and it seems new, it would be a good idea to have her seen by your veterinarian, as they will be able to see the area and let you know if you need to be worried. I hope that all goes well for her!

Sept. 30, 2020

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Maine coon cat

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One Year

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Sneezing

She is sneezing and sniffling with a swollen nose, more sleepy than usual

Sept. 28, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Cats can suffer from viral diseases that do cause sneezing and discharge under times of stress, and that typically runs its' course in a few days. If she is still having problems, she may need medication, and it would be best to have her seen by your veterinarian. I hope that all goes well for her!

Oct. 7, 2020

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Cat

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Eleven months

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Unknown severity

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Eyes Look A Little Watery

When my cat was a kitten he had watery eyes and sometimes nose discharge, but he was never sneezing or itching so I didnt take him in. He doesn’t have a runny nose at all nor does he have any other symptoms other than occasional wet eyes / some discharge of brown / clear in the corners.

Sept. 27, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. I can't see anything in the picture that you sent as his eyes are closed, but some cats will have occasional watery eyes from viral diseases, and that may pass on its' own. If the problem is not resolving, or he does start coughing or sneezing, It would be best to have them seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine your pet and see what might be causing this, and let you know what treatment might help.

Oct. 11, 2020

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Jax

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Domestic long hair

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11 Years

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Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Bloody Discharge From Eye And Nose

I have a 11yr old 10lb neutered male cat with acute swelling under right eye with bloody discharge coming out of eye and the right nostril when pressure is applied. Swelling comes and goes.. His globe is perfect, no scratches or ulcers. Can not fine tear duct. Skull rads, blood work, culture, felv/fiv snap all negative and WNL. No tooth root issues. It is painful but has not stopped him from eating. Was treated with clavamox 62.5mg BID X 21 days, 2 convenia injections, clindamycin 50mg BID x 14 days, Famciclovir 125mg SID, prednisolone 2.5mg BID, and lysine treats. Nothing has worked so far. He has mild chronic discharge from his eye in the past and had bilateral entropion surgery at 1 yr old. The Veterinarian is stumped and wants me to go to specialist for CT scan but now my funds are extremely limited. Have you seen this before? Any ideas other than cancer??? Help please!!!

Sept. 24, 2018

Jax's Owner

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Spider

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Ginger tabby

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20 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Our 20 year old has been sneezing occasionally for a few weeks but now seems to have a very stuffy nose and is sounding very congested when he breathes, He has no discharge from his nose or eyes and iss otherwise happy although he has a slight loss of appetite, we thought it might be caused by fabric cleaners etc but have stopped using any and no improvement.

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Maddie

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long hair

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19 Years

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Serious severity

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pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Sneezing
Nasal Discharge
Labored Breathing

My 19 year old cat has been suffering from some form of sinus inflammation since the end of February (8 months). She is underweight (fluctuating between 6-7 lbs) but eats both hard and soft food throughout the day. Her symptoms include: sneezing (sometimes knocks her off her feet), nasal discharge, and labored breathing at times. She has been treated by her vet with a steroid for a possible nasal inflammation or even tumor, which didn't seem to help any of her symptoms. For the past 4 months, she's been getting Convenia SQ Injections about every 3 weeks. Prior to her last injection, the injections have helped the sneezing and nasal discharge. Last week's injection hasn't touched any of her symptoms. Are there any over the counter or homeopathic suggestions?

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Harley

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Tabby Cat

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12 Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Stuffy Nose Loss Of Appetite Dehydr

My cat is sick stuffed nose not eating and dehydrated. Took him to the vet they wanted $1800 for a bunch of test. I told them to treat him for fleas, give him fluids, and treat him with antibiotics. Came out to $280. Got home and my other cat that got out before I could get her fixed has kittens is now sneezing. Does the mother's milk protect the kittens from getting sick? Should I separate the kittens from their mother and bottle feed them so they don't get sick?I can not afford another vet visit for a few weeks. What do I do? anyone?

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Charlie

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DOMESTIC

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6 Years

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Critical severity

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Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Wheezing

Neighbors cat is sneezing and wheezing bad he has a sinus infection but she can’t take him to the vet she’s poor I’ve been feeding him and changing his water and he went from an inside cat to the front porch I made him a cat shelter but I’m still very worried he will die please help?

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Pookie

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Unknown

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15 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Sneezing
Discomfort
Nasal Clear Drainage

My 15 year old cat Pookie had a hairball yesterday morning and kind of choked on it. He was cough gagging, sneezing and had rattling when he breathed (didn’t even last 15 minutes) now he’s breathing fine eating fine.. seems completely fine but it’s very clear to me he is experiencing a fair bit of nasal discomfort. (He is sneezing but not overly often.) I don’t know if I should bring him to the vet or just give him some time?

Nose and Sinus Inflammation Average Cost

From 590 quotes ranging from $200 - $2,000

Average Cost

$700

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