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What are Tonsillitis?

While tonsillitis is uncommon in cats, when it does occur, it is usually the result of a bacterial infection and is treated with antibiotics. Other conditions can cause tonsillitis, which will require identification and treatment. If the condition becomes chronic or unresponsive to antibiotics, surgery to remove your cat’s tonsils may be recommended.

Tonsils are part of your pet’s lymphatic system. As part of the immune system, their function is to protect your pet from harmful bacteria and viruses. Tonsils can, however, become infected or enlarged, a condition referred to as tonsillitis. This condition can make normal functions like swallowing and breathing difficult. 

Tonsillitis Average Cost

From 348 quotes ranging from $100 - $500

Average Cost

$300

Symptoms of Tonsillitis in Cats

Symptoms of tonsillitis include:

  • Sore, painful throat
  • Red, inflamed tonsils
  • Pus may be present on tonsils
  • Lethargy
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Salivating/drooling
  • Decreased appetite
  • Gagging and vomiting
  • Breathing problems when severe
  • Fever when bacterial infection is present

As tonsillitis is often a secondary disorder, pet owners may also note symptoms of the primary disorder, such symptoms of a virus or a stomach condition.

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Causes of Tonsillitis in Cats

Tonsillitis in cats is usually secondary to a primary condition. Possible causes of tonsillitis in cats include:

  • Recurring vomiting (digestive disorder)
  • Chronic contamination with bacteria (licking infected wounds)
  • Bacterial infection
  • Viral Infection such as feline immunodeficiency virus or cat flu
  • Lodged foreign objects in the throat (for example, grass seeds from foxtails can become lodged in tonsils)
  • Upper respiratory infection (often a secondary condition of cat flu)
  • Oral disease
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Diagnosis of Tonsillitis in Cats

Your veterinarian will perform a complete physical examination including visual examination of the back of your cat’s mouth and throat to diagnose tonsillitis. As tonsillitis is usually caused by another underlying condition, your veterinarian will try to discover the conditions present in your cat. It will be important for you to give a complete medical history and describe any possible harmful exposures or incidents your cat may have had in order to identify what is causing the inflamed tonsils. Blood and urine tests may be conducted in an effort to identify other conditions present in your cat. In addition, x-rays may be ordered to determine if a chest infection or foreign object is present. Your veterinarian may also perform a throat swab and culture to determine what bacteria are present and determine the most effective antibiotic to counteract the infection.

If tumors of the tonsils are suspected, your veterinarian will perform a biopsy to check for cancerous cells.

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Treatment of Tonsillitis in Cats

Treatment will depend on the identified cause of the tonsil inflammation. If respiratory infection or bacterial infection is present, your veterinarian will prescribe a course of the appropriate antibiotic. Your veterinarian may also prescribe painkillers for a cat when the swollen tonsils are causing excessive pain and interfering with the animal's ability to swallow. If the case is severe and the animal has become dehydrated, fluids will be administered.

Prognosis is good if the cause can be identified and treated and your cat responds to the prescribed antibiotics. 

If tonsillitis becomes chronic in your cat, or if the inflamed tonsils are causing an obstruction of the throat, a tonsillectomy, in which the tonsils are removed, may be performed by your veterinarian.This is not usually necessary but may be required in some cases.

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Recovery of Tonsillitis in Cats

If surgery was required you should watch your pet for aspiration of fluids and hemorrhaging. Any non-dissolving sutures used will need to be removed post-surgery. Complete healing from surgery should occur in approximately two weeks During the recovery period, a soft food diet will be required until your pet is able to process hard food again. Any post-surgical medication and antibiotics should be administered as prescribed. It is possible for incompletely removed tissue to regrow. Should this occur and cause problems for your pet, you will need to return to your veterinarian for treatment. 

If your cat’s tonsillitis is being treated non-surgically with a course of prescribed antibiotics, ensure that the entire course is taken. Cats with tonsillitis should be given soft, mushy food while recovering so as not to further irritate their throat.

Your cat should have rest and a quiet environment to heal and recover. 

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Tonsillitis Average Cost

From 348 quotes ranging from $100 - $500

Average Cost

$300

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Tonsillitis Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Nevaeh

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tabby

dog-age-icon

16 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Pain
Mouth Salivation

Hello there. My cat is 16 years old and is experiencing sudden drooling and mouth pain, and she is eating much less than usual. You can tell she is hungry, but she will stop eating suddenly and walk away crying. I went to the vet to have her teeth checked (it sure seemed like a tooth problem), but they all looked ok. Any other suggestions? She is miserable. Now on antibiotics and pain meds.

May 8, 2018

Nevaeh's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

I'm sorry that that is happening to her. It would be worth seeing if she responds to her antibiotics and pain medications - if not, pt might be a good idea to have a thorough mouth exam to check for growths, or mouth xrays to see if she has tooth root problems. There is something going on with her mouth, from your description, and it may take a little work to figure out the problem. I hope that she does well.

May 8, 2018

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Simba

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indoor

dog-age-icon

6 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

My cat is 6 years old and has a swollen throat all of sudden which is visible please advise what precautions are to be taken , he is a complete indoor cat and we have 19 cats all indoors in total , he is letting us touch it but if we try to press he moves away worried

April 10, 2018

Simba's Owner

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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

Without examining Simba I cannot say whether the cause is due to an allergy, infection, foreign object or another cause; you should of course separate Simba from the other cats but ideally given your situation you should take Simba to your Veterinarian immediately to have him checked over since 19 sick cats would not be something you would want to risk. Below is a link to a site with nonprofit organisations which may be able to help with cost given the number of cats you’re caring for. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.dogingtonpost.com/need-help-with-vet-bills-or-pet-food-there-are-resources-available/

April 10, 2018

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Halle

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Tortie

dog-age-icon

9 Years

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

Fair severity

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1 found helpful

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

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Lethargy, But That'S Better

Hi smart Doc, My 9y.o. Tortie went thru Dental Surg. by a Dental Vet...EXCELLENT!! Nov. 2017. Has an autoimmune syndrome...Resorptive Tooth Syndrome. Stage 3, I believe. 2 teeth removed. 9 y.o. Began pawing at mouth, and not eating, took to new Vet, and has a big Pus filled Red Tonsil. Gave her Abx. Shot, sent me home with Abx (liquid) and she WILL not eat...still. Is starving! He doesn't believe in pain control?? Only voided 2x's in 2 days. No blood draw, no nothing. Country Vet. My great Oral Surgeon is 1.5 hours away. He says give it time. I'm worried. Am giving her small amts of H2O by syringe, but will NOT eat anything...can not swallow! Help! I am a Critical Care R.N. Not happy with care in small town!! Sharell

April 3, 2018

Halle's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Without knowing more about the time frame that Hallie has been having problems, it is difficult for me to comment on her progression. If she is responding to the antibiotics, it seems reasonable to give them time to take effect. If it has been more than a day or two and she isn't improving, it may be worth the 1.5 hour drive to seek a second opinion, given her history, and make sure that more isn't going on. I hope that she is okay.

April 3, 2018

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Caligula

dog-breed-icon

mixed

dog-age-icon

9 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

Hoarse Meows

Last week I was sick with tonsillitis (pretty sure it was bacterial as I took antibiotics and it cleared up in a few days) but i’m worried now that I passed it onto my cat. Her meows are really hoarse but she doesn’t seem to have any other symptoms - appetite is fine and she’s as active as she usually is. What should I do?

April 2, 2018

Caligula's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

There are very few infections that are transmissible between cats and humans, and her hoarseness is probably not related to your illness. If she is active and eating well and appears normal otherwise, you should be fine to monitor her for improvement in her meows If she doesn't return to normal within a few days, it would be a good idea to have her examined to make sure that nothing is happening with her throat or lungs.

April 2, 2018

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Mitzi

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Turkish Angora

dog-age-icon

3 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

My cat was diagnosed with conjunctivitis 4 days ago and given treatment. Since yesterday she doesn t eat or drink anythink and didn t go to litter. I went this morning again and the vet said she has like swollen limph node smth like tonsilitis and gave her 2 injections with convenia and meloxicam and also sq iv. Now she only ate 2 little spoons if yogurt and still sleeps a lot. Any other advice or how long until we ll start seeing some improvement? Thank you Elina

Nov. 19, 2017

Mitzi's Owner

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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

If Mitzi is showing some signs of enlarged lymph nodes or tonsillitis it is possible that it is painful or uncomfortable to swallow leading to a decrease in appetite; the meloxicam should help and monitor her for a few days and make sure she is at least hydrated. Encouraging appetite with some warm wet food may help especially if it is little bit mixed with water to help hydration. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Nov. 20, 2017

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Portia

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british blue/cream

dog-age-icon

16 Years

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Serious severity

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1 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Cant Eat
Swallowing Problems

my cat is 16 years old and is already suffering from kidney failure. She now has tonsillitis and the vet has told me it is not caused by an infection although antibiotics have been given. she was sedated yesterday to check her throat and there are no symptoms apart from swollen tonsils and lymph glands. The vet has concluded that it is probably a virus. I'm wondering what we can do to help her as she hasn't eaten in 4 days. She was given fluids at the vets.

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jade

dog-breed-icon

Calico

dog-age-icon

3 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

Coughing, Gasping For Air, Vomating
Coughing, Hiccups, Loss Of Apitie

My cat used to be in outdoor indoor cat before we moved to boca raton. I recenctly started walking her outside when she got an eye infection we treated that and now she is constantly couching and almost hiccuping.

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Pig

dog-breed-icon

Unknown

dog-age-icon

5 Years

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

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Swelling
Lethargy
Vomiting

How long can a cat live if their tonsillitis isn’t treated? My mom isn’t prepared to do any type of treatment for my cat and says I should be prepared so I’m just wondering how long he may have he has visible swelling in his mouth and you can feel large swelling on his neck, he won’t eat or drink even watered down food, he is lethargic and drooling, he seems very out of it like he doesnt know where he is and he isn’t very active which is very unusual for him.

Tonsillitis Average Cost

From 348 quotes ranging from $100 - $500

Average Cost

$300

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