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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 22616
Experience:  I am a small animal veterinarian with a special interest in cats and am happy to discuss any questions you have.
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My male cat, 15 years old seems to be continually licking his

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My male cat, 15 years old seems to be continually licking his nose. He looks to be having some problems with swallowing and I've noticed that he sometimes sneezes quite excessively. Any idea what may be wrong with him?

Hello Jane, I am afraid that the expert you have requested is not currently available. Still I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with your wee one today.

When we see cat sneezing, showing signs of throat irritation (perhaps due to tracheitis or side effect of post-nasal drip), and licking their noses (which suggests a runny nose and is the cat version of using a tissue), the most common cause would be a low grade cat flu. Other less common considerations that we'd also have to consider would be nasal or upper airway based disease (ie disruption of the nasal air flow from polyps, fungal infection, foreign bodies stuck in the nasal passage, tumors, etc.).

In this situation, as long as the discharge from the nose is clear (since snotty discharge tells us bacteria are present and antibiotics would be indicated) and doesn't appear to be just from one nostril (which would raise concerns of one of those less common issues), you can try some supportive care with your lad to try and clear this for him.

Now in regards XXXXX XXXXX care that you can start at home, there are a number of things you can do to help him. First, if he is sneezing and congested you can take him in the bathroom while you run a hot shower. The steam will help loosen and clear any of the snot congesting him. You can also use a baby nebulize/humidifier, but often cats don’t like things held up to their faces. Therefore, you can alternatively make a little ‘steam tent’ for him by placing him in his carrier with the nebulizer next to it and cover both with bed sheet.

If he is building up mucus that the steam isn't shifting, you can use a cotton ball moistened with warm water to wipe away crust and mucus. You can also use saline nasal drops (like Ocean Mist but not anything medicated) to relieve congestion for him. 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.

As well, we need to ensure he keeps getting a proper amount of food and water. The reason this is important is because congested cats who can’t smell their food often won’t eat as well as they should. And if he has a tracheitis as well (common when herpes is causing the flu signs), then his throat may feel too sore to eat. Therefore, if you see any appetite decline then you can try tempting him with soft, smelly wet foods (since they are high in water). It may help to warm it up a bit in the microwave to help him be able to smell it. Furthermore, if you are struggling to get food into him, then there are also OTC calorically dense critical care diets (ie Hill's A/D, Clinicare, Royal Canin Recovery diet) available from the vets that can be useful in hand feeding cats who are not eating properly. They allow you to get more nutrition into them, even if you cannot get a large volume of food into them.

Finally, just in case feline herpes is suspect (especially if he has a stray, rescue, or cattery background), L-lysine treatment can be beneficial with herpes induced cat flu. This is a nutritional supplement that can just help cats overcome a flare-up quicker.. This is available over the counter at health food (and GNC type stores). 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.

If you try the above and his signs don't settle over the next few days or if you do notice one sided discharge/congestion or snotty discharges; then we'd want to follow up with his vet at that stage. They can confirm if his signs are infection or if these other concerns could be present here. Depending on their findings, they will be able to dispense antibiotics and cat safe decongestants or advise you on which of the other concerns may be present and how you can address them effectively.

I hope this information is helpful.

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

All the best,

Dr. B.


If you have any other questions, please ask me – I’ll be happy to respond. Please remember to rate my service once you have all the information you need. Thank you and hope to see you again soon! : )

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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you. I've had Bru all his life. I don't see any discharge from his nose.

He just seems to be out of sorts with the licking of his nose.

I'll take your advise and treat him in the shower room when I'm in there and hope it helps.



You are very welcome, Jane.

I would advise seeing if those congestion/discharge reducing steps help wee Bru. If it doesn't or he does continue to see not quite himself, then I would have your vet have a check of him to just make sure there is nothing stuck in his nose that could be constantly irritating him.

All the best,
Dr. B.