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Curing Kitty Colds

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Crowded conditions such as shelters and rescues increase stress and potential for catching “kitty colds.”

Has the recent outbreak of flu, sinus infections and general creeping-crud attacked you this season? When I visited family over Christmas, one person was just getting over the flu, and two more came down with it while there, and a fourth got the bug a week later.

I’m washing my hands constantly and staying home with the fur-kids. That’s one more positive about working alone at home as a self employed author–less contact with contagious folks. I’ve been told that the flu vaccination (always a good thing!) isn’t necessarily working well against the current illness, either. *sigh*

A stopped up nose and crusty eyes are not only miserable for humans, it can be a sign of a wide range of health problems in your cats. Discharge that’s runny and clear usually goes away in a couple of days by itself. But any time it continues longer than that, or the discharge is cloudy or thick and clogs up the eyes or nose, a virus could be the culprit.

Cats have more problems with congestion than dogs. The bugs that cause kitty congestion usually aren’t lethal in adult cats. But cats won’t eat unless they can smell their food, so they starve if they get a stopped up nose. Kittens are at higher risk. You can find all the must-know kitten care information in Complete Kitten Care, but your veterinarian is the best purr-son (sorry, couldn’t resist!) to provide proper care. Home care not only keeps pets more comfortable, it often decides whether they recover or not.

  1. Use a vaporizer to help unclog the nose. Put your cat in a fairly small room with a cool mist humidifier and use it just the same as you would for a child a couple of times a day. That not only helps break up the congestion, it can moisten inflamed or tender eyes and nostrils and make them feel better.
  2. If you don’t have a vaporizer or humidifier, a hot shower can work. Take the pet into the bathroom with you and run the hot shower so that the air becomes filled with steam. A 10-minute session several times a day works great. Don’t go for longer than that, though, because heated air for too long can be hard for some pets to breathe, especially short-faced Persians.
  3. If the nose is crusting over, or the eyes are sealing shut, use warm wet cloths or cotton balls to soak and soften the secretions and clean them off. Don’t peel dried matter off, because that can hurt or even form scabs.
  4. To soothe sore tissue after you’ve cleaned off the mucus, dab on a bit of plain saline solution, or some baby oil. That can also make it easier to clean away any more crusts that might form. I’ve also used Udderbalm (for cows) and a new product I’m trying out on Magic’s chapped nose called Musher’s Secrete also works well for dogs.
  5. When thick secretions fill up the lungs it can be hard for pets to breathe even when their nostrils are clear. A technique called coupage helps break up the clogged matter so the pet can clear his lungs. It’s a French word meaning “thumping on the chest” and is often used to help children with Cystic Fibrosis breath more easily. Hold your hand in a cupped position, and gently thump on either side of the cat or dog’s rib cage to break loose the mucus. Use coupage two or three times a day along with humidified air to ease the pet’s congestion.

FOLLOW-UP CARE

Refusing to eat can make cats sicker or even threaten their life. Wiping away the crusts and mucus to keep the nasal passages open helps, but offering pungent and more tempting foods can cut through congestion and spark the sick cat’s appetite. Warm the food for five seconds in the microwave to just below cat body temperature—about 95 to 98 degrees. That not only makes the treat more alluring, it also unlocks the aroma so the food smells more pungent and penetrates even a stopped up kitty nose. Moisture also helps enhance aroma, so try adding a bit of warm water, chicken broth, or tuna juice from the can to the cat’s regular food. Run it through the blender to make a mush, and there’s a good chance that will tempt his appetite.

Have your cats suffered from upper respiratory issues? How did you manage them? When vaccinated early as a baby, some of these bugs can be prevented but once they’re in the cat’s system, stress can cause an outbreak. Cats also are tough customers when it comes to “pilling” and medicating (although compounded medicine can help with that). What are your tips for nursing a sick cat? Please share!

Kittencovernewlores

Amy&Seren&Magic

 

Amy Shojai is a certified animal behavior consultant, vet tech and author of dozens of pet care books. She blogs about cats, dogs, THRILLERS WITH BITE and shiny objects at her BLING, BITCHES & BLOOD blog. You can find out more about her 26 award-winning pet care books at www.SHOJAI.com where you can subscribe to her quarterly Pet Peeves newsletter to stay up to date on pet-centric information. For a daily dose of Amy, follow her on twitter and connect on FaceBook Author Page.

All content © 2013 Amy Shojai unless otherwise credited.


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