Sneezing, snuffling and a stuffed-up, runny nose probably make you head for bed with a hot drink and an array of cold medications. However, when it's your furry friend who has these symptoms, you'll need to get her off to the vet, as these are signs of chronic rhinitis.
Chronic rhinitis is a fairly common problem for our feline friends, according to Michigan Veterinary Specialists. The chief culprits are viral infections, such as feline calicivirus and feline rhinotracheitis virus. However, there are numerous other causes, including an allergy to something in the environment like household detergents, smoke, birds and mold. Bacteria, nasal polyps, dental disease or a foreign object stuck up her nose are among the other possible causes.
Although it affects feline friends of all ages and breeds, some causes are more commonly seen in younger or older cats. Younger cats are more likely to have nasal polyps, while older cats may have an abnormal growth called a neoplasia. Also, brachycephalic breeds like the Persian and cats in multi-cat homes are more likely to develop it as a secondary condition of another respiratory disease. Your vet will need to do a thorough investigation to discover the exact cause of the condition so that he can choose the right treatment.
In order to diagnose chronic rhinitis, your vet will need a full history of vaccinations and previous illnesses, plus he'll want to know whether your cat spends much time outdoors. Diagnosis usually starts with a full blood count and chemical and urine analysis to rule out allergic causes and viral infection. If this initial examination of your cat doesn't reveal the cause, the vet may use diagnostic imaging or an endoscopy to take a look inside the nasal cavities so he can see what's happening. In the case of growths, he'll probably perform a nasal biopsy.
The Feline Advisory Bureau states that treatment doesn't always provide a long-term cure, but it can certainly control the condition and make your furry friend more comfortable. Antibiotics help control an infection and a nebulizer with a decongestant that is suitable for cats helps relieve some of the symptoms. Antifungal drugs will help if it's caused by fungus and a corticosteroid helps with allergic rhinitis. Polyps and other growths in the nasal passage need surgical removal. You can also help your kitty by regularly cleaning her nose area with a soft, damp cloth.
Keeping your feline friend's vaccines up to date is a very important preventive measure, especially for viral infections. Changing her litter frequently also helps, as does cleaning her teeth regularly. Most importantly, take her to your vet as soon as you see any cold-like symptoms, because the earlier you get treatment for your furry friend, the more successful it's likely to be.
Based in London, Eleanor McKenzie has been writing lifestyle-related books and articles since 1998. Her articles have appeared in the "Palm Beach Times" and she is the author of numerous books published by Hamlyn U.K., including "Healing Reiki" and "Pilates System." She holds a Master of Arts in informational studies from London University.