UPPER RESPIRATORY INFECTION

Upper respiratory tract infections (URI) or “kitty colds” are common occurrences in shelters, especially in kittens.  The majority are caused by one of two viruses, although they can have some bacterial components. Signs of URI include congestion, excessive sneezing, fever, discolored (white, green, or yellow) nose or eye discharge, an eye ulcer, oral ulcers and/or a fever.

Please contact C.A.R.E. if you suspect your kittens and/or Mom cat of having an Upper Respiratory Infection. Please take close up photos of the kitten/cat’s discharge before cleaning to share with medical staff at C.A.R.E.

If your foster cat/kitten is showing signs of URI, please do the following:

  • Make sure the cat/kitten is eating. Cats that are congested often won’t eat because they can’t smell the food. If they are not eating well, clean the kittens eyes and nose of discharge (be sure to take photos first, to send to the C.A.R.E. Veterinarian), warm up a strong-smelling canned food with warm water, and offer it to them. You can also provide them several different options to ensure there is one they like.  Cats and kittens should be eating at least 50% of the food offered to them. After 24 hours of not eating or eating less than 50%, the kitten will need to be brought in for an exam (call to schedule) and the C.A.R.E. Veterinarian will determine a course of treatment. 
  • If the cat/kitten has eye or nose discharge, clean their nose/eyes at least twice daily with a wet, warm washcloth. Gently wipe the eye from the nose side out to the side of the face. 
  • If the cat/kitten is congested, place them in a room with a humidifier, or in a carrier in a bathroom with the hot shower running (steam) to aid congestion. You can also hold the kitten on your lap. Nothing should ever be added to the water like Vic’s Vapor Rub or similar products. Also, never leave a kitten alone in a bathroom with the hot shower running unless it is in the carrier. Place nasal saline drops in the cat/kitten’s nose to aid congestion (1 drop per nostril, 2-3 times daily). A product called “Little Noses” can also be used on URI kittens. Please use Little Noses without decongestant (saline-only solution). This product can be used as long as needed, and can be used in both nostrils up to three times daily.
  • Provide supplemental warmth, especially for young kittens (rice sock, snuggle safe warming disk, etc.).
  • The sick kitten or cat might need to be separated during feeding times, and the Veterinarian may recommend supplemental syringe feeding. 
  • A detailed treatment plan will be provided to make it as easy as possible for you. 

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