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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.

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

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

dog-name-icon

Jax

dog-breed-icon

Domestic long hair

dog-age-icon

11 Years

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Moderate severity

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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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Gracie

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red tabby

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15 Years

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Moderate severity

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Nose Wheezing, Discharge, Eyes Disc

My 15 year old cat Gracie has had chronic sinus issues her entire life. I've managed her allergies/sinuses with steroid injections. last year she became diabetic from those injections and now I'm managing with transdermal benedryl rub in her ears and neomycin and polymyxin B sulfates ophthalmic susp. in her eyes and nose. She got a sinus infection 5 weeks ago and she was given two shots of antibiotic. Her infection is gone but she has trouble breathing to the point she breathes through her mouth. We've tried over the counter decongestants, B-12 shots and steamy bathrooms. Her eyes have cleared up but her nose is very much inflamed and breathing is an issue. She had a lot of nasal discharge also. I give her lysene to help with her immunity issues. otherwise all of Gracie's labs and urine is fine. I manage her diabetes with injections. The B-12 have helped her appetite but she still struggles with eating. She has lost some weight. What could I do to help her breathe. Her old vet, without asking, gave her a quick acting steroid and it did relieve her for 3 days. However, I'm managing her diabetes now. I am so sad because other than her nasal area she's fairly healthy. I've had her since she was 4 weeks old and really want to help her. Dee

Aug. 6, 2018

Gracie's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

There may be more going on with Gracie's nasal passages than just allergies or congestion. That sounds fairly severe, and I would be concerned about a growth of some type, or another type of infection. It might be a good idea to have some x-rays taken of her skull to see if anything is visible. She is lucky to have you, you seem to be taking very good care of her. I hope that all goes well for her.

Aug. 6, 2018

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ChiChi

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Cat

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8 Months

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Moderate severity

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Sneezing

Hello, my cat is 8 months old and ever since I rescued two kitties with an upper respiratory infection who gave it to her- she hasn’t been able to recover completely. I have taken her into the vet numerous times. They give her iv fluids and an antibiotic shot which works for about 2-3 weeks then symptoms return. She has tested negative for feline leukemia and also cancer. I’m frustrated her stuffy nose, runny eye and over all congested sound keeps returning. We did a blood panel too and everything was normal. Any ideas on what to try next- she has had the antibiotic shot twice and liquid antibiotics another time- this will be the fourth vet visit back with her with same Symptoms coming back after meds wear off ;(

July 11, 2018

ChiChi's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

That is frustrating, and sad for ChiChi. The only thing that might help in this situation may be to keep her on a lysine supplement that may help keep the viral load under control for her and allow her to heal. Your veterinarian will have one that they can prescribe for her. She may also need a different antibiotic, as different antibiotics have different bacterial spectrums.

July 11, 2018

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Joey

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Domestic shorthair, grey with white tiger stripe

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19 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Swollen Forehead, Nasal Drainage.

19 year old male neutered cat presented with swollen right eye and forehead. First symptoms approx 1 month ago, I applied warm compress and boric acid eye wash. After about a week subsided but still slightly swollen eye. Inside 24 hours forehead swollen approx .5” again plus opaque yellowish discharge right nostril. Cat lethargic, and hiding but eating.

July 11, 2018

Joey's Owner

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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

In a cat Joey’s age and with symptoms this severe you should visit your Veterinarian for an examination; there are a few possible causes for these symptoms and with the severity (and age) I doubt anything over the counter would be suitable for him. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 11, 2018

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Siri

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Tortoiseshell Russian Blue

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6 Years

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Moderate severity

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2 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Sneezing
Congestion
Mucus,

Sinus Inflammation in Feline Tortoiseshell Russian Blue DOB 10/4/11 For the past 8-10 months or so, my cat has been sounding very congested and sneezing. It started off as a mild concern but continued to worsen. She's always been a very small and stalky cat (the vet was not concerned about her weight, however). She has always been about 12.5 lbs. When we adopted her, she had her a total ear canal ablation and lateral bulla osteotomy, due to discharge that wouldn't stop causing her to have balance issues as well. On 2/6/16, she was taken to the vet when a back molar fell out while I was rubbing her chin. She had surgery on 2/10/16 for stage 2 dental cleaning for feline periodontal disease. She has never chewed dry food, choosing to swallow whole. The vet mentioned the ear problems and her teeth condition could be related to facial structure (flat face). During this procedure, she did have lab work completed, and the results were normal. Around October 2017, the sneezing symptoms started. Her breathing was a bit labored (especially after any sort of playing), but she has never lost appetite or refused water. I started her on ½ a tablet of Zyrtec which did seem to help. However, recently the sneezing fits have increased in frequency and duration. She will sneeze up yellowish mucus (and eat it before I can wipe it off). We took her back to the vet on 5/14/18, and she was given a Convenia long-acting antibiotic injection. This did wonders for about 2.5 weeks. The symptoms then came back. I phoned the vet on 6/11/18 to get further instructions. He called in 28 days of Simplicef 25mg stating he wanted to try this before steroids (since the shot did alleviate her symptoms). After 3 weeks, we have noticed no improvement. Putting her in the bathroom with hot steam, does seem to help clear the congestion. I have even had success with a small amount of Vick’s vapor on her whiskers. All 3 cats are were switched from Natural Balance Duck and Pea to Hill's Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach & Skin in January. My other cat has OCD and over grooms (feline hyperesthesia) and this food has stopped the itching (along with the Amitriptyline and Zyrtec). However I do notice all three cats have developed dandruff on hind quarters after switching to this food, but we have also had a lot less vomiting on this diet (all three were coughing up hairballs and food when on the other die, which we were on to rule out a chicken allergy in the hyperesthesia cat). Is there anything else I can do to help alleviate the sinus congestion? I know it is likely not pleasant for her (nor is being sneezed on).

July 1, 2018

Siri's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

It seems that you are doing everything medically possible, other than steroids or an anti-allergy medication, to treat this problem without knowing exactly what is causing it. It is concerning that the discharge is yellow, as that does typically mean there is a bacterial component, but the underlying cause could be allergies, or a growth in her sinuses. If she hasn't had any imaging, x-rays may be a good place to start to try and figure out what is going on with her.

July 1, 2018

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Spider

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Ginger tabby

dog-age-icon

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

dog-age-icon

19 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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

dog-breed-icon

Tabby Cat

dog-age-icon

12 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

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

dog-breed-icon

DOMESTIC

dog-age-icon

6 Years

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

Critical severity

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0 found helpful

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

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?

dog-name-icon

Pookie

dog-breed-icon

Unknown

dog-age-icon

15 Years

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

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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