Does my cat have a cold? Or something worse?
If your cat is sniffling, sneezing, coughing and seems congested, you might assume it has caught a cold. There are a number of upper respiratory infections in cats and some are very mild but others may be more serious.
One condition that may have more serious clinical signs is feline calicivirus (FCV). The typical signs of this upper respiratory infection include sneezing, nasal congestion, conjunctivitis and discharge from the nose or eyes, PetsMD.com reports. These signs are somewhat general, and may occur with a number of upper respiratory illnesses, so it is important to call your vet to discuss other, more specific details that may help diagnose the sick cat. Always make sure to mention any fever, lethargy, anorexia and enlarged lymph nodes. These may not be specific to this infection, but are important to note.
In addition to the upper respiratory issues, cats with FCV often develop ulcers in their mouths - usually on the tongue, hard palate, gums and lips, that cause them to drool excessively. They may also have ulcers on their nose.
While some severely affected cats may require hospitalization, according to VCA Animal Hospitals, the best way to treat FCV in cats is to address the symptoms at home, if possible. The virus will go away on its own, but the veterinarian may prescribe medication for the eye discharge or an anti-inflammatory medication. Antibacterial drugs may be given to prevent secondary bacterial complications. The best approach to feline calicivirus and some of the other more serious upper respiratory infections is to prevent them through vaccination. Talk to your vet to make sure your cat up to date with its vaccinations.