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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 17944
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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My 5 year old cat has been gagging a lot today but not actually

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My 5 year old cat has been gagging a lot today but not actually being sick, his meow sounds huskey like he is loosing his voice.
He is eating and drinking but looks a bit sorry for himself. Any ideas?
Hello, my name is***** and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian. I am sorry to hear that Bobby has a husky meow, is gagging, and is feeling sorry for himself. It sounds like your fellow has a horrible sore throat and that is making it difficult for him to vocalize.
I would look closely into his mouth and throat to see if you can see any redness, ulcers or anything caught.
If he has been sneezing and/or running a fever and you see any redness or ulcers then he may have an upper respiratory infection, like a very bad cold in you and I. Some upper respiratory infections, like Calici Virus, can also cause ulcers and these are painful, so they can cause a lack of appetite and a bad sore throat and lethargy. Look for ulcers inside of his mouth, such as on his tongue and hard palate (roof of his mouth). If he has them the ulcers could be caused by Calici virus, which is an upper respiratory virus that can cause ulcers and joint pain as well. Herpes is another respiratory viral infection that can lead to lethargy and a sore throat, but is more likely to cause lots of sneezing and an eye and nasal discharge.
Some cats get sicker than others and young, healthy adult cats seem to tolerate a respiratory infection 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. 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 well if they cannot smell) as well as making it softer thus easier to chew and 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. With a decreased appetite he is also likely drinking less and dehydration is a real concern.
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.
If his nose become very congested and collects mucous 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.
If he has any oral ulcers you can use Chlorhexidene oral rinses (like CET rinse) on the ulcers to keep them from getting infected by bacteria secondarily and keep them from becoming crusty and more uncomfortable.
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 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 such that he is open mouth 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.
If his lack of appetite and lethargy continues then he probably needs a veterinary examination and fluid therapy from his veterinarian.
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 10 days or so.
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. If he isn't much better in 10 days he needs a veterinary visit.
Here is a link if you want to read more about Calici virus:
Let me know if you have any further questions.
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