What are Pharyngitis?
It is important to seek immediate veterinary attention if you suspect your cat is suffering from pharyngitis. If the throat becomes severely inflamed, abscesses may form and obstruct the throat, which can cause severe complications for your cat.
Pharyngitis is a condition in which the throat becomes inflamed. Pharyngitis is often symptomatic of other conditions, such as respiratory infection. Pharyngitis is characterized by difficulty swallowing, and may or may not be related to a serious condition.
Symptoms of Pharyngitis in Cats
Cats suffering from pharyngitis usually eat and drink normally unless the throat is obstructed. Symptoms are often nonspecific and may be related to other conditions. Consult your vet immediately if you notice any of the following symptoms:
- Signs of mouth pain
- Swollen tonsils
- Difficulty swallowing
- Bad breath
- Sneezing and/or coughing
- Nasal congestion
- Resistance to having the mouth opened
- The presence of fluid or draining sores
- The presence of ulcers or abscesses in the mouth
Causes of Pharyngitis in Cats
Pharyngitis in cats is symptomatic of a number of diseases, including, but not limited to:
- Acute stomatitis, or inflammation of the mouth
- Feline calicivirus, also known as “cat flu”
- Feline herpesvirus
- Upper respiratory infection
- Nasopharyngeal polyps
- Oral disease
- Environmental or traumatic causes may include:
- The presence of a foreign object in the mouth
- Injury to the mouth
- Exposure to or ingestion of certain chemicals or irritants
Diagnosis of Pharyngitis in Cats
Diagnosing pharyngitis in cats is fairly straightforward. Your vet will make a tentative diagnosis based on a thorough physical examination, oral examination, and presentation of symptoms. Be sure to inform your vet of the extent and duration of your cat’s symptoms as well as any relevant traumatic injuries or events that you know of.
In many cases, an oral examination is sufficient for making a definitive diagnosis. Your vet may also make the definitive diagnosis by taking x-rays, performing an endoscopy, or taking fluid cultures if fluid is present in the ulcers, abscesses, or mouth.
Treatment of Pharyngitis in Cats
Treating pharyngitis will depend on the severity and underlying cause. Your vet will be able to advise you on a treatment plan based on your cat’s specific needs.
For cases of pharyngitis caused by bacterial upper respiratory infection, antibiotics are typically prescribed to fight off the underlying infection. Anti-inflammatory medications may also be prescribed to reduce inflammation in the mouth. For cats affected by calicivirus, treatment may be more invasive depending on the severity of the condition. For severe cases of calicivirus, hospitalization and intravenous fluid and/or nutritional therapy may be required.
If dental problems are the cause, anesthesia will be administered in to allow for cleaning the cat’s teeth. In severe cases of dental conditions in which pharyngitis is symptomatic, extraction of the affected tooth or teeth may be required.
If a foreign object, nasopharyngeal polyps, or other obstruction has caused pharyngitis, your cat will likely require surgery to remove the obstruction. This will involve the use of general anesthetic and possibly the removal of dead tissue. Your vet may prescribe pain management medications or dietary adjustments following surgery
Recovery of Pharyngitis in Cats
Recovery and prognosis, while dependent upon the severity and underlying cause, are generally excellent following treatment. Always follow your vet’s post-treatment instructions carefully.
Always administer any medications, particularly antibiotics, for the full duration of the recommended treatment period, even if symptoms start to improve. Failure to do so could result in aggressive recurrence. Never use any over-the-counter medications made for human use unless explicitly instructed to do so by your vet. These may worsen the underlying condition.
If your cat has undergone surgery, don’t allow your cat to irritate the surgery site. Always initiate any dietary changes according to your vet’s specific instructions. Ensure your cat has a warm, safe place to rest during the recovery period. If your cat has developed pharyngitis as the result of a dental problem, you’ll need to practice proper dental care each day to prevent the disease from recurring.
Certain preventative measures should be employed based on the underlying cause. If you live in a multi-cat household, isolate any affected cats to reduce the possibility of disease spread. Disinfect food and water bowls as well as litter trays. Excellent dental hygiene care is a necessity for all cats. Preventative vaccines are available for many underlying causes of pharyngitis, including feline calicivirus and upper respiratory disease.
Your vet will not usually schedule follow-up appointments to monitor the condition unless the underlying cause is severe or your cat has had surgery. If you have any questions regarding treatment, or if the condition does not seem to be improving with treatment, contact your vet immediately.