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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 16303
Experience:  General practice veterinary surgeon with extensive experience in a wide range of species.
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Hello, my kitten is 10 weeks old. I bought her when she was

Customer Question

Hello, my kitten is 10 weeks old. I bought her when she was 7 weeks with cat flu. She was taking antibiotics and eye drops for 10 days when the vet said she was ok and stopped the medication. After 24 hours she started sneezing again and breathing heavily, I took her back and she was prescribed antibiotics again (she also had high temperature). Another week has gone by and she seems to be a lot worse today, breathing very heavily and does not seem to feel well. She has been eating ok wet food, but does not drink at all, not even kitten milk. Is it normal to have these symptoms after such a long time being on intibiotics? Please advice if you can, can I do anything to make her feel better? Thank you
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Vet
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 2 years ago.

Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with your wee one today.

Poor wee Kama!

Now cat flu is a very common for kittens with naive immune systems. In this case, it does sound like Kama has quite a severe case of flu and if she does then it is quite possible that she is struggling to clear this and therefore we are seeing her flare up of flu last longer then most. That said, if you find that she isn't settling with antibiotics, then you may want to speak to her vet about testing her to determine which agent is trigger her signs (since we can see this arise due to feline herpes, calicivirus, Bordetella, and Chlamydophilia felis). As well, if there is any risk that she may have been exposed to immunosuppressive agents like FIV or feline leukemia, then these too would be worth checking for (to ensure that this is not why her immune system is struggling with this for such a space of time). That way you can appreciate what is triggering her signs and ensure that you are treating her as effectively as possible.

Now in regards ***** ***** care, there are a few steps you can take. To start, I would first warn you to discontinue the Olbas oil. These oils can actually be quite irritative to the delicate feline respiratory system and potentially could be worsening her breathing by inflaming her airway with your treatment. Instead, you just want to use plain water in your humidifier. And just to note that if you are using a humidifier, do consider making her a steam tent to ensure she is getting enough "steam treating" from this. To make a steam tent, you just need to put her in her carrier, the humidifier next to it, and a thin bed sheet over both.

Otherwise, if she is building up mucus that the steam isn't shifting, use a cotton ball moistened with warm water to wipe away crust and mucus you can reach. As well, you can also use saline nasal drops (like Ocean Mist but not anything medicated) to relieve her congestion. To do so, take one at a time and tilt their head back and drop two to three drops in one nostril. Cats hate this, but it helps. After the drops go down, you can let the head up and wipe away any discharge that gets loosened. Then repeat with the other nostril.

In regards ***** ***** lack of drinking, do remember that if she will eat wet food then she will be getting some fluids (since it is 35% water). If she is picky with her food, do make sure to offer smelly ones and/or warm it up in the microwave. This will help her smell the food despite her congestion. Furthermore, to help getting her drink, do consider offering tuna spring water (not oil or brine) either on its own or mixed with her water to encourage her to smell the fluids and drink.

Further to these steps, you do want to monitor her hydration. To check her hydration status to make sure she is not becoming dehydrated there are a few things we can test at home. One is whether the eyes appear sunken, if the gums are tacky instead of wet/moist, and whether she has a "skin tent" when you lift the skin. To see how to check these parameters for dehydration, you can find a wee video on this (HERE). They use a big dog but it makes it easier to see and the principles are exactly the same. If you are seeing any signs of dehydration already, then you do want to speak to your vet about treating her with IV or subcutaneous(under the skin) fluids to tackle her dehydration.

Otherwise, in regards ***** ***** you can do to help stave off dehydration at home (though do note that if she is already then she will likely need more the oral rehydration), encourage her to drink but offering fresh water or even low-sodium chicken broth. If she isn't amenable to drinking, you may wish to offer water or unflavored pedialyte via syringe feeding. A typical maintenance rate for hydration in an animal 48mls per kilogram of her body weight a day. If you do give syringe pedialyte, this should obviously be divided up into multiple offerings through the day rather then all at once. And if she does vomit at any point, then you would want to discontinue this as a treatment (since we don't want her vomiting because of our interventions).

Finally, if she has a history of herpes exposure or you just want to rule it out, you can consider treating with L-lysine. This is an OTC nutritional supplement that) can help them recover quicker. This is available over the counter at health food stores, pet stores, and the vets. They tend to come as huge tablets, so I advise crushing them and mixing it with food. An average cat dose is 500mg a day.

Overall, it sounds like poor wee Kama has caught one of the cat flu agents and is struggling to clear it from her system. Therefore, you will want to continue the antibiotics at this stage and stop using the Olbas oil immediately. Further to this, you do want to use the above supportive care measures and if she is very congested do ring her vet in the morning about dispensing either cat safe decongestants (ie Bisolvin) +/- cat safe anti-inflammatories (ie Metacam) to reduce inflammation in her airway and try to get her breathing a bit easier. And if you find that wee Kama just cannot clear this infection, then do consider a discussion with her vet about testing for the common flu agents to identify what is causing this and ensure you treat her as effectively as possible.

I hope this information is helpful.

If you need any additional information, do not hesitate to ask!

All the best,

Dr. B.

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