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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 18384
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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my cat is about 16 years old and seems to have a blocked nose,

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my cat is about 16 years old and seems to have a blocked nose, he has been off his food since last night and isnt drinking either
Hello, I'm Dr. Kara. I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian and I'd like to help with your concerns about Leo's blocked nose, and lack of appetite and water consumption.

I suspect that he has picked up a contagious upper respiratory infection. Some cats get sicker than others and young, healthy adult cats seem to tolerate them and fight them off better than very young kittens or older cats. An upper respiratory infection in cats is just like a cold in you and I, and these are commonly caused by a virus, the most common one being Herpes virus. These are easily caught by breathing in virus particles in the air from a sneeze or nasal or eye discharge.

You can help him feel better by adding warm water to his food to make it smell more (they don't eat if they cannot smell) as well as making it easier to swallow.

Also the more fluids he gets the better. Offer tuna juice, low salt chicken broth, run the tap if he likes to drink out of the sink.

Take him into the bathroom with you if you run a hot bath or shower as the steam will soothe his sore throat and airways and thin the mucous in his respiratory infections.

If his nose become very congested you can use sterile saline to loosen the thick mucous and remove it. He won't like it but it will help him breathe and be able to smell his food better. You can also use sterile saline to remove eye mucous if it accumulates.

You can give him an amino acid supplement called L-lysine at 250mg to 500mg orally twice daily. If this infection is due to Herpes this amino acid interferes with virus replication and will shorten the infection's duration and severity. Good supplements to try are made by the Viralys brand which comes in a powder to add to the food or a tasty gel.

Some lethargy is understandable, let him rest as he needs rest to get better. If your cats normally go outdoors keep him (them) inside until they are back to their normal playful selves.

If you want to try Benadryl (diphenhydramine) to dry up his nose a normal dose is 1mg per pound every 8 to 12 hours. So a cat his size could take one 25mg tablet every 8 to 12 hours. OR you could try another antihistamine, chlorpheniramine at 4mg per cat orally every 12 to 24 hours.

If he runs a high fever (more than 104F), has a green or yellow nasal or eye discharge, stops eating even with coaxing and clearing his nose and eyes, or starts coughing or having difficulty breathing then he needs a veterinary exam. Not an emergency as long as he is eating but soon if he isn't eating or has a green or yellow nasal or eye discharge.

Sometimes these upper airway infections turn into pneumonia so that's what we need to guard against. In most cases antibiotics aren't needed and can contribute to a decrease in appetite so I don't tend to prescribe them unless I feel there is evidence of a secondary bacterial component. These include a green or yellow eye or nasal discharge, evidence of pneumonia upon listening to their lungs or an infection that lingers beyond the normal 7 to 10 days.

I highly recommend testing him for feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency viruses if his respiratory infection lingers. These immunosuppressive viruses will make a simple infection much worse as they stop the immune system from fighting infections the way it was designed to do.

Other reasons for nasal congestion are an infected tooth root, a foreign body inhaled into the nose or a nasal polyp or tumor. If he isn't much better in 7 to 10 days he needs a veterinary visit, even if you can get him to eat. If he isn't eating in the next couple of days then he needs a veterinary visit as soon as possible.
Let me know if you have any further questions.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

he has also been throwing up a yellow/green foam I have tried many different things to try and get him to eat but he is having none of them

Thank you for the additional information.
That changes things a bit.
If he is vomiting that can go up into his pharynx and nasal passages and cause severe irritation causing increased mucous production and plugging his nose.

A green color to his vomit can indicate digested bile in his vomit. That means that we have reflux of bile from his small intestine into his stomach, which is not normal. That can indicate a gastrointestinal blockage.

If he has been chronically vomiting that can be related to chronic pancreatitis, esophageal reflux, a dietary allergy or sensitivity, inflammatory bowel disease, heartworm disease, internal organ failure, hyperthyroidism, a full or partial gastrointestinal obstruction or even infiltrative cancers such as lymphoma.

I would highly recommend that he see his veterinarian for a hands on examination and some simple blood tests to start including a complete blood count, biochemistry profile, T-4 and urinalysis if his vomiting and lack of appetite continues.

If those tests come back normal then the next steps would be a heartworm test, as vomiting is strangely one of the most common signs of heartworm disease in cats and a specific blood test for pancreatitis has been done, a fel spec PL (feline specific pancreatic lipase). This test is highly specific for pancreatitis in cats.

If those tests come back normal the next step is an abdominal ultrasound and/or either exploratory surgery or endoscopy to gather biopsies of her gastrointestinal tract to look for a blockage, inflammatory bowel disease or cancer.

In the meantime you can try giving him an acid reducer to see if that helps his nausea. You can try either:
1) Pepcid ac (famotodine) at 1/4 of a 10mg tablet per 5 to 10 pound cat every 12 to 24 hours
2) Prilosec (omeprazole) at 1/4 of a 10mg tablet per 5 to 10 pound cat every 24 hours.

Fast him for a couple hours to let the acid reducer work and try offering a bland diet of 2/3 boiled, shredded white chicken and 1/3 boiled white rice. You can mix in low salt chicken broth or warm water to make the food softer and easier to eat, and swallow and more palatable.

Please let me know if you have any further questions.
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