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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 32803
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience.
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I have a nine year old cat (female) that appears to be in good

Customer Question

I have a nine year old cat (female) that appears to be in good health. However she does seem to have over the past 4 years a daily sneezing fit where she sneezes about ten or eleven times in a row. Over the past 4 days when she has sneezed that many times her head seems to lock to the left and she seems to walk round in circles to the left hand side as her left legs seem to buckle slightly, about 15 to 20 seconds later her head straightens back up and she's absolutely normal again ( this has happened about once a day for the past 4 days).????? Eats her food and acts completely as normal. Sometimes there is a little bit of blood in her snot but mainly just a bit slimy!! She returns to her normal self in 15 seconds or so ??? Eating normal and behaving normal 99% of the time! it seems that the sneezing fits start this off?? What do you think I should do? As she appears healthy unless this sneezing fit starts her off!! Sometimes two ir three sneezes go without any effects, it's when she does 10 plus in a row !!
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Cat
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 4 years ago.
Aloha! You're speaking with Dr. Michael Salkin
The most common cause of such a long history of sneezing such as you've described is infection with the feline herpesvirus (FHV-1) Current thinking involves the probability that this virus not only infects the upper respiratory tract but also the middle ear. This would be consistent with Sox's head locking to the left, circling, and ataxia ("drunken sailor") because these are symptoms of peripheral vestibular (balance) disease affecting the inner/middle ear.

I see two manners in which to proceed. We can attempt to clarify which of the infectious agents is present in Sox by PCR (a DNA-based) testing. This is a very specific and sensitive testing that looks for FHV-1 and the other viruses such as calicivirus and H1N1 influenza virus as well as the bacteria Bordetella bronchiseptica, Chlamydophila felis, and Mycoplasma felis. The second approach is to simply presumptively treat for FHV-1 with the systemic antiviral drug famcyclovir because there's such a high probability that this virus is the culprit.

Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish and feel free to share our conversation with Sox's vet.