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Dr. Deb
Dr. Deb, Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 10859
Experience:  I have been a practicing veterinarian for over 30 years.
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We fostered a 10 week old female kitten for about 3 weeks.

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We fostered a 10 week old female kitten for about 3 weeks. unfortunately three days before she went she started sneezing. There was no discharge from her eyes or nose and she was eating normally, playing and getting into mischief as kittens of this age do. A couple of days after she went my cat started sneezing and is really quite snuffly. He was also a foster cat which we adopted (he is somewhere between 5 & 8 years old). Is there anything we can do to help him? Incidentally, the kitten had one vaccination for cat flu and was due her second one after she left us.

Hello Sue, I'm Dr. Deb and will do my best to help you today.

It's certainly possible that the kitten gave Monty the Feline Flu (the most likely scenario) but it's also possible that it was a pre-existing condition since he was also a foster cat.
Cats who are exposed to the herpes virus can retain this virus in their bodies for their entire lives; it can remain dormant until triggered to emerge. There are a lot of triggers such as stress (although it's not always easy to identify what might stress a cat!), changes in weather, changes in food, certain drugs, trips to the vets, etc.

The underlying cause of Monty's symptoms now are somewhat irrelevant but I just thought I would point out the slight possibility that the kitten wasn't at fault for making him sick....although I'm rarely a big fan of coincidence!!

When cats develop feline flu, we typically don't dispense oral antibiotics unless there's a green or yellow color to any nasal or ocular discharge. Since these are primarily viruses, they have to run their course, similar to a cold in a human, which is usually around 7-10 days.

But, I do have a few suggestions which may help Monty feel better.

1. Use warm water to clean the eyes and nose of any discharge that builds up. Over the counter artificial tears can be used to flush out the eyes if they become affected.

2. Nasal decongestant drops can be helpful although many cats don’t like them very much as you can imagine. They should only be used for three days in a row, with one drop in each nostril; otherwise what’s known as a rebound effect may occur
a. Pediatric otrivin=0.05% xylometazoline

b. “Little Noses" Decongestant Nose Drops with phenylephrine hydrochloride
c. Afrin (oxymetazoline)

d. "Little Noses" Saline Spray/Drops non medicated which can be used more than three days in a row.

3. Continue to provide humdity as you have been since this can help loosen up secretions.
4. There are no safe over the counter cold remedies that we might take but antihistamines can help some cats:

Benadryl at a dose of 1/2 of a 25 mg tablet given twice daily or

Chlorpheniramine at a dose of 2-4 mgtwice a day or

Claritin at a dose of 2.5-5 mg twice or

Zyrtec 5 mg/cat once or twice a day

It is important to ensure that the formulations used contain ONLY the antihistamine and are not combination products (e.g. Claritin-D contains pseudoephedrine, which could cause very significant adverse effects in a cats.

Sedation is a common side effect with these kinds of drugs.


I hope this helps and that he's feeling better soon. Deb

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Dear Dr Deb, Monty did indeed get very stressed with the kitten. All the signs were that she was separated from her mum far too soon as she craved love and warmth at every opportunity and slept as near to Monty as he would allow. All was fine until she started jumping on him at every opportunity and he started to retaliate. Monty was very stressed when we first had him- he went as high up as he could and had hardly any fur as he kept pulling it out, so he is clearly a highly sensitive cat, and giving him any type of medication is virtually impossible. I cant put them in anything as he only eats chicken and dried food. Would it be best to keep him in for a few days? Obviously if he develops a cough or coloured discharge from eyes or nose then I will take him to the vets.

Thanks so much for the additional information.

It certainly sounds like the kitten was not someone that he wanted to share his life with which I can understand under the circumstances:(

And, that stress would have been enough to trigger a pre-existing herpes virus, for sure.

I'm not sure if I would keep him in or not since that might add to his stress. If he wants to go outside, then I'd probably let him.

If he starts to run a mild fever, then he'll want to stay in anyway.

At this point, I agree that vet visit isn't necessary nor would I try to orally medicate him although I might consider the nose drops if he becomes really congested.

But there would be no harm in just waiting it out for now, especially since he doesn't sound too sick.

Regards, Deb

Dr. Deb and 3 other Cat Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Dear Dr Deb, By the way apart from the odd glitch Monty is a really happy cat. His tail is always in the air and it is always quivering. Thanks for your advice. Sue

Thanks for the rating; it's greatly appreciated.

Monty sounds like quite a character:))

I hope you'll keep me posted about him. Even though you've rated, we can still continue to communicate at no additional charge to you.

You can just send me an update in a few days, if you have the time.



Take care, Deb