What is Runny Nose?
If your cat has a runny nose, you may be wondering if you should bring him into a vet. Some causes of runny noses are minor and do not require treatment, however, others are serious and require immediate medical attention. It’s always recommended to visit a vet if your cat is experiencing a runny nose.
Just like humans, cats can suffer from a runny nose, or nasal discharge. A runny nose is common in cats and fairly easy to spot. It may occur in one or both of your cat’s nostrils, and the discharge may be clear or have color, depending on the underlying cause.
Symptoms of Runny Nose in Cats
A runny nose is characterized by nasal discharge. Cat owners may notice a watery or thick discharge that is clear and colorless. However, nasal discharge may also have streaks of blood or pus, giving it a slightly red, yellow, or green color. Symptoms that may accompany a runny nose include:
- Eye discharge
- Stuffy nose
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
Causes of Runny Nose in Cats
There are a number of different health conditions that could cause a runny nose in your cat. Some of them are minor issues, while others will need emergency medical attention from a veterinarian. Causes of a runny nose include:
- Upper respiratory infection, also known as cat flu
- Bacterial or fungal infection in the nasal cavity
- Tumors in the nasal cavity
- Foreign objects in the nasal cavity
- Head trauma
- Nasal polyps
Diagnosis of Runny Nose in Cats
A vet will be able to determine your cat has a runny nose by simply observing him. However, you should still inform your vet of any other symptoms you have noticed, aside from the runny nose, so he can diagnose the underlying condition. If the discharge is clear, your vet may identify the cause as allergies without doing any further testing. However, if there is blood or pus in the discharge, further testing may be required.
A complete blood count and biochemistry profile may be performed in order to see if there are any abnormalities. For example, an elevated white blood cell count may signal that an infection is causing the nasal discharge. The vet may also swab the inside of the nasal cavity to test the discharge for bacteria and fungus. If the vet believes there is another cause for the discharge, he may perform either a CT scan or an endoscopy to look for tumors, foreign objects, or polyps.
Treatment of Runny Nose in Cats
Treatment will vary depending on what is causing the runny nose. If a foreign object is lodged into your cat’s nasal cavity or polyps are present, the vet may need to perform emergency surgery to safely remove the object or polyps.
A vet will prescribe medication to treat runny noses caused by fungal or bacterial infections. It’s the cat owner’s responsibility to orally administer this medication at home and bring the cat in for a follow-up visit to ensure the infection has healed. Medication can include antifungals, antibiotics, and anti-inflammatories if the nasal lining is irritated.
Cat flu is usually a virus, so there is no medication to treat it. However, cat owners may be told to make sure the cat is drinking plenty of fluids while he recovers. Keeping the eyes and nose free of discharge while the cat recovers from cat flu is also important.
One of the common causes of a runny nose in cats is exposure to allergens. If the vet thinks this is what is causing your cat’s runny nose, testing may be suggested. This will help you figure out what your cat is allergic to so you can reduce or eliminate the cat’s exposure to the allergen.
Recovery of Runny Nose in Cats
The time your cat takes to recover from a runny nose will depend on what is causing it. If a fungal or bacterial infection is the cause, your cat should recover after a being treated with antibiotics or antifungal medication.
Cats usually fully recover from cat flu, however, kittens and older cats with other health conditions may experience complications in their recovery. Even after they heal from cat flu, cats remain carriers, meaning they may suffer from the condition again at some point in their lives.
Recovery from allergy-related runny noses is usually fairly quick if you prevent the cat’s exposure to the allergen. However, some allergies are seasonal and reactions are caused by exposure to pollen or other environmental elements. If this is the case, although you cannot prevent exposure, you can talk to your vet about treating the reactions with antihistamines as needed.
If your cat required surgery to remove a foreign object or polyps, he may need up to a week to physically recover. Your vet will most likely need to reexamine him after the surgery to ensure everything is healing properly.
Runny Nose Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
Dale has had a chronic runny nose, stuffy nose and eye discharge for almost his entire life. I have no money for the vet but I have amoxocillin and Cipro on hand. Should I give him one-of these? What would the cat dosage be? Are there any OTC medicines that would give him some relief?
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She has been sneezing and stuffed up for about three days now. There is some discharge but it seems to be just clear but when I wiped her nose earlier it was a little pink but I think that is just from the irritation there is some labored breathing. She is still eating and drinking. My concern is her age and the fact that she has lost a lot of weight lately. She has hyperthyroidism and I haven’t been able to afford to take her to the vet lately. Should I be concerned about the sneezing?
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