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Upper Respiratory Infections in Cats and Kittens

Adrienne is a certified dog trainer and former veterinarian assistant who partners with some of the best veterinarians worldwide.

URIs are a common cause of runny and bubbly noses in cats.

URIs are a common cause of runny and bubbly noses in cats.

Does Your Cat Have a Runny, Bubbly, or Stuffy Nose?

A sudden sneeze, teary eyes, and some nasal discharge . . . While cats have been known for many years to have nine lives, they can still come down with the sniffles just like humans do. Cats and especially kittens are very vulnerable to upper respiratory infections (better known in veterinary offices as URIs), especially when living together in large groups such as in shelters and catteries.

Transmission of Upper Respiratory Infections in Cats

As mentioned, in order to come down with a URI, cats must be living together. Just as humans are more prone to colds and the flu when working in small office spaces or traveling in airplanes, cats develop them when in close contact with other cats. The most common method of transmission is through sneezes and shared water and food bowls. Stress also plays a major role since it lowers a cat's immune response. It is not uncommon for a cat to come down with a URI a week after being spayed or neutered.

Cats are capable of transmitting the virus from several weeks to months after exhibiting symptoms depending on the type of virus. It is best, therefore, to keep the affected cat isolated from other cats at this point.

Common Transmission Methods

  • Sneezes
  • Shared water dishes
  • Shared food dishes
  • Cats grooming other cats

URI Symptoms in Cats

A cat with an upper respiratory infection is not a happy camper. It will have severe bouts of sneezing for the first day or two and its eyes, especially if affected by conjunctivitis, will become inflamed and watery. Watery nasal discharge and a nice fever on top of that make matters even worse. Because the infection affects the nose, most cats will likely lose their sense of smell and, in turn, lose their appetite. Refusing food is not uncommon in cats with URIs. As days go by, the watery nasal discharge will thicken and become purulent and sticky. The cat may resort to opening its mouth at this point in an attempt to breathe better.

Because upper respiratory infections in cats may be the results of different strains of viruses, accompanying symptoms may vary. Typically, cats affected by the Herpes virus may develop a cough and/or corneal ulcers, and cats affected by Calicivirus may develop several ulcers in the mouth and/or limping. Regardless of the cause, most cases seem to recover spontaneously within 7–10 days. However, cats with a lowered immune system or kittens may be prone to complications that may even turn fatal if not treated effectively.

Common Symptoms


Nasal discharge


Loss of sense of smell

Mouth breathing

Diminished appetite

Treatment of Upper Respiratory Infections in Cats

While most cats may recover spontaneously within 7–10 days, kittens and cats with compromised immune systems may need assistance from a veterinarian. These are cats that are becoming malnourished from the lack of appetite and dehydrated from the substantial fluid loss resulting from the copious nasal discharge.

Veterinary Treatment

Cats may be helped to fight off the viral infection by administering a course of antibiotics. As odd as it may seem to fight off a virus with antibiotics, such protocol is used in order to avoid and effectively fight off potential secondary infections that may set in. Regardless of treatment methods, some cats may develop chronic URIs that recur throughout their lives.

How to Make a Cat With a URI Comfortable at Home

At home, cats may be helped to breathe better by running some hot water in the shower with the bathroom door closed. The cat should be allowed to breathe some of the vapors but should not be allowed to get wet. A home vaporizer may be helpful as well. If the cat is refusing food, it should be enticed to eat by offering warmed-up canned food since it releases its smell more once warm. Highly palatable foods are recommended for cats in order to encourage them to eat. Meaty baby food with no garlic and onion may be offered. Nasal discharge should be promptly wiped to allow better breathing.

Prevention of URIs in Cats

Fortunately, there are vaccinations that can be started in kittens as young as 6–8 weeks old against distemper, herpes, and calicivirus. Kittens should finish the vaccination series and cats should receive annual vaccinations. While vaccinations may not eradicate these conditions completely, they significantly reduce the duration and severity of these potentially fatal infections.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Questions & Answers

Question: We brought home a new kitten, and now our previously healthy cat is coughing and sneezing. Is there a vaccine that will prevent a new cat in our environment from catching the herpes virus?

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Read More From Pethelpful

Answer: Yes, ask your vet about Felocell 3 which protects against feline herpesvirus, calicivirus, and feline parvovirus. It is given by injection, and sold under the alternate trade name Felocell CVR. There's also Felomune CVR, which is a nose-vaccine protecting against feline herpesvirus and calicivirus. Consider that it takes some time for these vaccines to be effective before introducing a new kitten.


Debra on August 21, 2018:

The vets in rural areas and in big cities seem to want to charge so much money for just a little bit of antibiotics is there any place online that will help me buy 443 cats and kittens I live on a farm I need to get I need to get shots for all of them and I need to get all of them fixed could you please try to help me find somebody that could help me get this done it wasn't like I do this on my own trying to help somebody out a couple years ago has spiraled out of control and I just don't know what to do I don't have a job I am on disability I've had open heart surgery but I don't want to hurt the cats and I don't want to see them taken away I would just like some help taking care of them if that's possible? Sincerely Debbie my email address is MD Schultz 4 ever at gmail. Com thank you again maybe if there's classes I can take I'm willing to do that too thank you again

Scg on January 18, 2018:

We just adopted a kitten on Sunday, by Monday nite the watery eyes started with the sneezing, took him to the vet, they gave him a shot of antibiotics and gel Meds for the eyes! His appetite s very good and drinking water, but has little interest in playing ,he is sleeping a lot due to the sneezing keeps him up half the nite, so I,m really letting him be as lazy has he wants to be right now, could u tell me when we could see some improvement?

Neena Majumdar on November 25, 2017:

I need assistance to find a free clinic for my,cats, kittens and dog, in Phoenix, AZ area.


Mary Hochman on November 17, 2017:

I am a little less worryed now I need to find a free clinic so I can bring Sammy to be cheeked out I live in Los Angeles,Ca. 90057 if you have any information about were I can bring him near me?

Shelly on September 08, 2017:

My humane society kitten developed his uri after playing with my adult cat for a week now both have watery pink eyes.

The vet suggested antibiotics. Should I keep them apart till they're well or not since it's the "same cold"?

Brenda on May 19, 2017:

Add Your Comment..what can you do to a kittens eye that gets inflamed from herpes from.other than a vet.

rickman2k on April 24, 2016:

one kitten out of five, 2 month's old, has the sniffles, LOTS of pollen in the air, everything is coated green. I was taught sometime back in a EMT class to keep a patient having respiratory problems to keep them inside and turn the AC on. This seems to be helping the kitten tremendously ! No more tilting her head back to breath, blowing bubbles out the nose ( with mucus discharge ). Also gave her a small amount of children's liquid allergy medicine. Less than a hour later she's breathing, no bubbles out the nose, she's eatting good and drinking good.

Ashley on May 19, 2015:

I see people keep posting that you can't give cats human meds. That's Not entirely true. I have children's amoxicillin and my vet says it is perfectly safe to give my cat. Since it is formulated for a child, I am to give her 1/2ml as she is 5 lbs Instead of the 10ml I would give my 80 lb son. I hope this helps someone. She has a URI and is nursing 4 week old kittens. I also got a second opinion with another vet to make sure it's Ok and he said yes.

Peter Geekie from Sittingbourne on February 15, 2015:

Dear alexadry

Thank you for an informative and well written article.

kind regards Peter

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on February 14, 2015:

If it's that bad, I would recommend an emergency vet. Your kitty can get dehydrated if he's not drinking.Here are some tips from a vet:

toni on February 14, 2015:

My 6 yr old cat name weezy who is an indoor cat i believe contracted a uri from my other cat dooka who also is an indoor cat who accidently got outside. It was a bad snow storm. Anyway 2weeks go dooka gets better andboutta nowhere weezy woke up nasal drainage mucus coming from mouth labored breathing and tired. The way he looked i thought i eas gonna lose him. Its now 6:55am and hes still eith me.... He wants to eat but all the mucus in his mouth and can only breath out his mouth he just walks away. Same with water, he wants to drink but im scared he might aspirate. Cant take him to vet til monday. So what do i do?

Teresa on December 22, 2012:

I had two older (very old) female cats that had the upper respiratory infections my vet recommended Viralys which after i gave it to them they left me never to return. ;)( So sad miss them awfully has anyone else lost their cat after this medicine? I know as a pharmacy tech, the veterinarian rules aren't as the normal medical world but they should be, I loved my kitties tremendously and they were a part of my life for a very long time. I hat that I let them down: they trusted me and took what I administered them thinking they would feel better. I let my babies down. I need to know if this has happened to others. Please respond.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on November 13, 2012:

Greetings, has your vet found the underlying cause for the URI? Has your vet prescribed L-Lysine?

Sara on November 12, 2012:

I recentley adopted an 8 week old kitten from the SPCA. She seemed healthy, but within 24 hours she was not eating, drinking, coughing and sleeping all the time. I did take her to the vet. She was diagnosed with an upper respatory infection. She has been on antibotics for 48 hours now. I have seen a little improvement but not much. She is only eating very very small amounts of food and barley drinking water. I have given her water threw a sirenge. I also gave her some chicken broth with wet food . She is still having coughing fits, it also seems as if it bothers her to swallow..... I'm just really wondering how long after she takes theses antibotics will it be until she gets better?? Please help

Destinee on June 13, 2012:

We previously got a kitten who was apparently very sick, when we took him to the vet two days later he had to be euthanized. Its out rageous how much they charger us to put him out of missery, however we have since gotten two new kittens and one is scarying me very much. She is breathing from her mouth, has snot coming from her nose, some goop from her eyes. I think she has an upper respitory infection but I cannot take her to the vet. Im just really worried. Ive done some of the things on here but i need to know what to do with helping her clear her nose. So she can breath better. Its only her second day with this and the other kitten is just fine. My parents say it will run its course so they refuse to take her to the vet. So im wodering if you think it just has to run its course or what? Im really worried and have no way of making my baby better. She is drinking but im going to have to force her to eat because she isn't. Some one please help me!

Peter Geekie from Sittingbourne on June 02, 2012:

Thank you very much Alexadry

Well written and useful hub - voted up and follow

Kind regards peter

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on May 25, 2012:

Opening the hot water faucet in the shower and closing the door allowing her to breath the vapors without getting her wet may give relief but she really needs to see a vet if she has to keep her mouth open to breath.

Karmen on May 24, 2012:

I have taken in my neighbors cat bc they left it when moved. I took to vet one time already bc she was very raspy and sounded awful. They gave her antibiotics and she was good after that. She has now had 5 kittens and her raspy lungs are back. She keeps opening her mouth trying to breathe and I don't have money fir another vet bill is there anything I can do. ( was pregnancy) when took her in. :/

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on May 19, 2012:

It may help top ask the breeder (if that is where you got them from) and see if the rest of the litter is doing fine. I have a feeling this is something that started before you got them. It could be the stress of going to a new home exacerbated the symptoms, but keep in mind that cold and respiratory problems have n an incubation period and therefore if they would have gotten sick at your home it would have taken longer than just one night for the symptoms to develop. You are doing all you can and actually doing much more than many owners would do. Best wishes for a speedy recovery~!

Missy on May 18, 2012:

My heart is broken. I got two kittens a week ago (sisters). They are 10 weeks old. The night after I brought them home, one of them started sneezing. No other symptoms. Acted fine, so I watched her. Two days later the smaller sister began having problems with her one eye. It was swollen, and leaking. I took them to the Vet the next day. Their lungs were clear, but the Vet put them both on an antibiotic. The little sister's eye was so swollen that the Vet couldn't look into well. I was given eye drops to put in her eye. Over the next three days things did not improve, and the little sister began sneezing also, the day after I took them to the Vet. So, today I took them to the Vet again. They gave me a different antibiotic to give both of them. The little sister is more stuffed up, and doing some mouth breathing. Her eye is still so swollen they can't make a full assessment, but they think that her eye may be gone, or she will be blind in that eye. I am suppose to give them both the medicine, and keep up the eye drops for the little sister, then check back in with the Vet on Monday. Maybe sent to a special eye clinic. I just can't believe that I brought home two kittens that looked healthy and fine, and a couple of days later, they are both sick, and one may end up with only one eye. I love them, and will do whatever I can for them, and will keep them no matter what. I've beat myself up, but I know I didn't do anything wrong. I just feel so bad for them, and it certainly hasn't gone the way I thought it would owning these kittens for a week.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on April 20, 2012:

If she can't see this is something that would need vet attention, where is the closest vet? this website offers some home remedies until she can see a vet which sounds like she really needs to see:

z kitty on April 20, 2012:

my cat is having cold and i think she cant see anything. Im from maldives, and here we don't have any vet. Can anyone help me.

OKSara1982 from California on March 13, 2012:

Joeys Mom,

Im so sorry to hear that :( At least he knew what a loving home was and that not all human are bad, it is hard to deal with but now he is an angel who will bring you another cat when the time is right and you have saved 2 lives


that would be nice, just had one today with FIP also :( sweet lil thing

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on March 12, 2012:

So sorry to hear that..He had lots of love from you on his brief visit on earth, you really took great care of him. FIP is a mean disease, I hope they find a cure for it one day.

Joey's mom on March 12, 2012:

I'm so sad to say that my little Joey had more than just a common URI, he was fighting Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP), a terrible virus that cannot be beat. Apparently it most often occurs as a mutation of a common FECV virus, which I now realize he had from the time I adopted him from the local shelter. We had to let him go to kitty heaven on Friday. It has been hard, but we are so grateful to have been Joey's family for his short but sweet life.

I hope Ninja is doing well! Thanks for the support here.

OKSara1982 from California on March 08, 2012:

I'm sorry Joey's mom. I've been at this for 2 weeks now with Ninja! Please keep me updated. Do they have him on oral meds?

Joey's mom on March 08, 2012:

The vet was very unhappy with Joey's symptoms last night and fears a super bug of some kind. He's been sick over two weeks, and just seems to be getting worse. I have had to feed him watered down canned food (and added the pedialite last night) through a syringe the last two days and he fights me the whole time. He also has something wrong in one eye that she thinks is an infection of the vessels supplying blood to the eye.

She suggested a bunch of blood work and xrays, but after spending $1500 already, I don't see the point of spending hundreds more on tests that would only tell us what untreatable, likely fatal thing he has.

I'll contact a veterinary clinic today that specializes in the homeopathic stuff and fight another few days, if Joey will fight with me, and then I'll just have to let him tell me if he can't fight anymore.

I'm so sad...

OKSara1982 from California on March 08, 2012:

Joey's Mom,

Clavamox is working very well. I also bought homeopathic FCV Protect and that is also helping. I wasn't to sure about the homeopathic stuff but it was all natural and everything in it is great for cats. It helps out their immune system. It's $35 and you can get it online. Ninja actually ate in his own without his appetite stimulate medication today, so that's a good sign. I recommend it for you guy Joey. Good luck to you and Joey

Joey's mom on March 07, 2012:

I hope Ninja does well! I'm bringing Joey back to the vet tonight for more antibiotics (a shot they gave him two weeks ago was only good for two weeks), and I'm going to try to hot shower and pedialite. Thanks for the suggestions!

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on March 07, 2012:

Best wishes for a speedy recovery! Eating is a very good sign!

OKSara1982 from California on March 07, 2012:

It's 2:45am here. I'm up with my sick little man Ninja. He has finally gone to sleep and he is in my lap all comfy as I sit on the floor lol I don't wanna disturb the guy cuz he looks so cute. He did eat a really good amount of A/D today and had more energy then normal so I'm keeping my fingers n paws crossed that we are seeing the light!

Ninja's Foster Mom on March 06, 2012:

Joey's Mom

I'm going threw the same thing with my Ninja, he is 2 yrs old. I've only have had him for 9 days. How I got him is that I volunteer at a local rescue and am a vet tech. A lady came out to the rescue with him and be had a urinary blockage,he had very little nasal discharge. I informed the owner that she needed to take Ninja to the vet due to the fact that being blocked for a male cat is fatal and the fact that he had been blocked for 3-4 days already, she ended up leaving with Ninja. The next day I called to check on him and to see if she had took him into the vet and she said No cuz she did not have any money. I asked if she would relinquish him to me NOT to the rescue and I would do what's best for him, she agreed.

I took him to the vet right away. They got him unblocked and back to me. He started getting really bad nasal discharge, watery eyes, drooling, not eating or drinking. So I took him back to the vet and they put him on Clavamox, he is on a/d canned food and I have to syringe feed him, he has eye meds, I have to give him saline nose drop 3-4 times a day one drop eash side, stream humidifier 3-4 times a day no longer then an hour or in a bathroom with the shower running with hot water until I got one, I also give him nutra-cal, you can get it from your vet or a pet store carries product just like it but a different name,sub-q fluids, L-Lysine 500mg once a day, he is also taking perdnisone 5mg 1/2 tab once a day and Alprazolam .5mg 1/2 tab once a day(whichs makes him hungry. He got worse and started running a fever, I also just bought this homeopathic FCV protect, it helps with them being congestion, sneezing, watery eyes. I just got it in the mail today, it's $35, got it off amazon, so I still have to give it some time. But my vet said it wouldn't hurt and may help his immune system kick this cuz everything the FCV protect has in it, is good for cats of ALL AGES!!! My Ninja has sores on his nose and lips from rubbing his face due to the nasal discharge bugging him. I thought the sores were herpes so I took him to the vet again and that what he told me they were from. I'm always cleaning his nose and eyes with a warm compress. I hope this info may help. It's really all about supportive care and nursing them back to health. I know its hard and I worry just like everyone else. I'm really fighting for Ninja and get up around the clock with him. He has been thur so much already and I know the stress of the blockage and a new home didn't help any. If you have any question I'd love to help, but just to remind you, I'm not a Vet, I am ONLY a Vet Tech :)

Joey's mom on March 06, 2012:

Our little orange tabby is now 8 months old and was diagnosed with URI two weeks ago. I'm frustrated by how long it is taking for him to recover. In spite of vet visits for fluids and an antibiotic shot, spoon feeding warmed and watered down A/D can food, and a warm humidifier in the walk in closet he's chosen as his resting spot, he is still not interested in food, so congested, and his eyes are so runny. What I'm hearing from these comments is that it can take up to a month for a young cat to there's still hope? My little guy is normally the life of the party, a huggy cat full of spunk - it is so strange and heartbreaking to see him so sick. :( Any encouragement for us?

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on February 26, 2012:

As a matter of fact this helps encourage eating, thank you for sharing! I remember I had to give my cat a medication she did not want to take and the vet told me to smear some on her paw and she licked it off!

Diane Gill on February 26, 2012:

if your cat is not eating,put cat food on its paw as then the cat will lick the food off as they don,t like anything on there paws, and hopefully doing that a few times a day your cat will be getting a bit of food

hope it helps.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on February 25, 2012:

I would see the vet again if the antibiotics are not working and she got so much worse. How long have you been given them? There may be other medications that may help her.

Adelle on February 25, 2012:

I have a 2 week old kitten that has a URI. I am fostering her mother and her 3 siblings, and she is the worst. She isn't eating, so I am syringe feeding her as much as I can but she struggled to take it in :( she gets maybe 1ml per feed (which isn't enough but it is all I can get into her). Her nose it blocked and is gasping for air. The mother is useless so I have her sleeping on my chest which has calmed her. The vet has given her antibiotics to be given twice a day but I am so worried that she won't even make it through the night. I have had her in the bathroom with steam earlier today-it didn't appear to have made a difference but I will do it again soon. I am so worried about my lil kitty, and I just want her nose to unblock so I can feed her more without her nearly choking :(

Amber Killinger on February 24, 2012:

Courtney, I agree with alexadry. Sounds like a vet visit is in order. If your kitty is having trouble breathing, it could be that the URI has moved into his lungs, which can turn into bronchitis/pneumonia. If it gets really bad, pneumonia can cause death.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on February 23, 2012:

I always think a vet visit is best when in doubt, best wishes!

Courtney on February 23, 2012:

I see everyone else is having the same problems... My little Jinx, who is 5, came home the other day with a little cold. It was raining out, and he never came i figured that's where he got this cold? He's an outdoor cat, until he wants to come in &, & sleepp... He's my baby, and i feel so horrible seeing him like this. He is eating, and drinking still like he has always. I can't afford to take him to the vet. But my little guy is a solider. he has always been able to take care of himself. He got a big gash in his leg last year, and healed it up. I'm sure his immune system is great. He's never been sick. But has always been outside, and he fights with other cats. He's my little lucky charm. He has watery eyes, and seems like a clear, mucus color comes out? it's always been like that when he sleeps, just now they are a watery. He can barely breath. He catches a break every now & again. He's breathing & sleeping good now. I was just wondering if you think maybe it will clear on his own? i feel like the only time he is miserable , is when he can't breath. he's eating GREAt though, and drinking water.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on February 15, 2012:

I would give the manufacturing company a call, this is their website and this is their phone number: Tel: 800-267-5707 best wishes!

paula on February 14, 2012:

i breed persians, they are indoor cats i have 4 females and 2 males. some of my cats have contracted the herpes virus. can i give my pregnant queens enisyls to help combat this virus

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on February 12, 2012:

Thank you for the update, I hope she recovers quickly, best wishes!

Mali on February 12, 2012:

Bailey still won't eat or drink on her own, but the Vet gave her liquids two days in a row and my husband and I have been feeding her recovery food in a sryinge three times a day along with pedialyte and she is slowly picking up energy. The Vet also gave her an appetite stimulant. She still won't eat on her own but at least we know she is getting some nutrition and now we just need to give the antibiotics time to work. Thank you for the link to the had some great tips.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on February 11, 2012:

I am sorry to hear she is not eating much, having gone through this, I know how disheartening it feels when a cat turns up its nose to favorite foods. You can try nutrical which provides nutrition support for cats that are not eating much, it comes in a tube and may be at large pet stores. Another option is to ask your vet about cyproheptadine, a medication that is supposed to stimulate appetite in cats. Here is a helpful hub about cats not eating:

CharliesMom on February 11, 2012:

I have a male cat (almost 3 years old - we found him on our porch when he was about 5 months old) who has been sneezing, coughing and bringing up a lot of mucus since the middle of December, 2011. We took him to the vet and he had a fever and diagnosed him with upper and lower respiratory infection. They put him on an antibiotic and we thought he was getting better. Then, he took a turn for the worse with the same symptoms and took him back to the vet and they put him on amoxicillin for 2 weeks almost and they didn't hear any problems in his lungs - so told us it was just an upper infection still. He was still sick and 2 weeks ago today we took him to the vet again and he was given a shot of a stronger antibiotic that last for 2 weeks as well as a predisone shot to help with the breathing. The vet took x-rays, no tumors, but still had some fluid in his lungs and his sinuses were blocked. I had hoped he would be better by now as we are in a tight spot financially. Anyway, we were told if he wasn't better they would have to do bloodwork. I am praying he does not have a deadly virus. He hasn't lost weight and still looks healthy. I keep wondering if he could have allergies or ashma?

Anyone, else have similar issues?

Mali on February 11, 2012:

We adopted a beautiful cat from the shelter on new years eve. Our vet says she is probably just a little over a year old. Since she had a URI the shelter did not spay her but instructed us to take her to a vet for antibiotics first which we did. She was doing great....very affectionate and playful. After four weeks we took het to the vet and had complete blood work done to ensure she was healthy and when that came back with great results we had her spayed. Now 10 days later. She is still loving but lethargic and has refused to eat or drink. Vet says she might have the calici virus cause of dark spot he sees on the back of her tongue and he gave her a shot of antibiotic. But now 24 hours later and she still won't eat. Prior to the surgery she would only eat dry food and I can understand if her tongue hurts maybe she doesn't want that but I have also tried tuna and chicken baby food and she turns away from every thing. Help she has gone from 7 pounds to 5 pounds 14 oz. and I already love her dearly.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on January 18, 2012:

Contact your vet, she should be getting better not worse, she may need a different type of antibiotics. Best wishes!

mari on January 18, 2012:

I just adopted a cat from spca on Friday. The next day she was sneezing constantly. I toke her to a vet. They gave med. I feel likethe meds are making her even more sick. What do i do?

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on January 14, 2012:

Kary thank you for the correction.

April, not much you can do at home,other than the tips I gave in the article. in some cases Terramycin may help for the eyes. Always consult with your vet before administering any over the counter medication.

april on January 13, 2012:

i have 3 kihem in a kittens i took in from out side i have them in a kennal they are very sick and don't have any money to take them to the vet what should i do they have uri and its hard keeping my other in side cats away from them ive cleaned there noses ive wiped there eyes they are drinking but not eating no matter how stinky the food is they don't want it please what do i do

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on January 10, 2012:

It really depends on what is causing the upper respiratory infection in the first place and if there is a secondary bacterial infection. A URI in a kitten is most likely cause by a virus, usually rhinotracheitis which is a herpes virus, or calici virus. Generally, depending on which virus your kitten has it may take 1 - 4 weeks to clear up. Feed him warmed up diluted canned food, let her breath some steam, you may need meds for the eye discharge. Lysine capsules may be helpful if herpes virus is involved. Best wishes and thank you for taking care of this tiny fellow!

JeSs on January 10, 2012:

I just saved a kitteh that came into my yard is SO THIN and dehydrated... im worried because now he seems to have this URI... he's sneezing and eye is discharging.... I AM WORRIED ABOUT "MY" cat... i thought i might help this poor starving thirsty kitten.. .and now i might have sentenced my cat to this fate....some of these articles i have read are informative... but i just don't know what to do... i cannot afford a vet... my question would be .... does the URI go away? apparently no over the counter meds for the kitteh... should i take him to the shelter and hope they feed,water,and treat him...? UGH the URI's freak me out its not pleasant poor cats!! i heard URI is fatal in cats... im confused some have said that and others say it runs its course...

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on January 08, 2012:

I am really not too comfortable with giving meds to pets without a vet's instruction. Your vet is the best person to tell you the amount of meds to give based on the kitten's weight and the most appropriate meds. You can read more about these meds here:

trbles on January 07, 2012:

I have a female kitten who is 3 month olds.Today she presented with raspy breathin,a slight temperature and runny eyes.I gave her a small dose of benadryl and penicillin.I was wondering if this is safe? I live off a monthly income n cant afford a vet bill.I do however take very good of my cats.They always have a clean box,fresh food in their bowl and fresh water... Just wanna make sure there I am doing the right thing .

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on December 27, 2011:

Julie, anything you rub on a cat very likely will be licked so I would not recommend doing this. You are far better turning the shower on with hot water and have your cat nearby inhale the beneficial vapor which will open the airways. Feeding warm water or broth-not hot and with no onion or garlic- with his kibble may help as well, best wishes.

Julie on December 27, 2011:

My cat has been diagnosed with a URI we thought he was chokeing because he has a severe case it seems from what i have read he has been showing symptoms for about a week now without treatment but we didn't know what was wrong we thought he was chokeing and he vomited because of it this was witnessed by my 11 year old well i called the vet and told him wha had happened at this time was about 3 days ago now the vet said if he wasn't better by the next day to brng him he he was playing and eating the next day so we left it alone 2 days later he is lathargic again and was given a small piece of ham and found under my bed by the 11 year old seeming to gasp for air and we thought he was chokeing again so called vet right away this is how i found out about this there was no other symptoms other than gaging and lathargy now he has the open mouth breathing and drainage of the eyes i wonder if vicks would hurt to rub a little on his nose to help with breathing or something i feel so helpless and he looks so miserable to me it looks as though he is gasping for air and i fear he will die im a little more at ease once reading stuff on the net but i don't feel any more at ease as the poor thing has a feaver 6 seconds into temp reading at vet and his temp was 106 vet told us to take it to his clinic right away he needed a shot and other exam he couldn't do at home was told he might have Feline lukemia too and possibly Faids aka feline aids vet gave him a shot of steroids and a what im told is a exsperimental antibiotic that he asures me works really well in these cases i trust my fet said to bring him back wed or thursday if not better. my vet took him in and is letting us pay later as we have used him for years now

Jenniffer221 on November 21, 2011:

Michelle... I had a neighbor once about 2 years ago... She took care of about 20+ feral cats. I think she said she got help from the township. Also some human societies will treat them with just a donation. Wish I could be of more help! There is also an organization called "save the cats" I live in bucks county Pennsylvania not sure what you have available where you live? Good luck... You are a good person for helping them. :-)

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on November 20, 2011:

I listed some home remedies in the article such as running the hot water in the shower and allowing the cat to breath the vapors. Another option is to feed warm meals (but not so hot to scald the cat's mouth) like feeding canned food diluted with warm water in hopes of loosening mucus. Unfortunately there are no safe over the counter medications for cats with colds.

happy on November 20, 2011:

im not sure what to do, my cat has a cold and i can't afford to go to the vet or buy prescriptions. are there any home remedies i can use? can i give my cat some sort of human medicine?

Michelle on November 13, 2011:

I really need help. We had a stray (gentle) mommy cat find out and she was pregnant. She had her kittens and we were able to find homes for most of them. However, others have found their way to our home and we are up to 14 now. I will not take them to a kill shelter and the no kill shelters require to much to get them there. They want full vaccines and at least $50.oo per cat. Can someone please help me find a way to protect these little guys and stop the reproduction. A local feral cat organization offered to lend us traps, but that is it. How can we spay or neuter 14 animals. Please help.

Amber Killinger on October 26, 2011:

This is a great article! I've been volunteering with a local kitten rescue for several years now and can vouch for what you wrote in your article.

We often rescue litters of kittens from shelters (so they aren't euthanized) and because they come from a shelter, they almost always come down with URI. Sometimes it clears up in a week or two, and occasionally it's stubborn and can take up to a month for the kitten to fully recover. Probably because they are so young, with an immune system that's not fully developed, and then the added stress of being placed in a shelter, and then moved again to a foster home.

Thanks for such a great article!

Jenniffer221 from Levittown pa on October 24, 2011:

I just got 2 Siamese kittens at 12 weeks old. I noticed symptoms of uri in the boy. I took him for antibiotic shot. I also noticed that they didn't receive their first shots till almost 12 weeks.

I am assuming this is why he got sick? I got them from a breeder.. How long will this take to go away? It's been about 1 week since he had this. I know they are still stressed about the new home thing and that brings their immune system down. I'm just annoyed that they got their shots so late!!

The breeder said he was exhibiting signs prior to me getting him but it went away

If anyone has advice it would be appreciated! Thanks.

I hate seeing him so sick.. He is still scared of me n wont let me pet him yet... Runs from me too when I try. :-/

Stefani on October 21, 2011:


I just adopted a kitten from a shelter and she previously had a URI. It was treated and she seemed healthy so I brought her home after testing for FIV and Feline Leukemia. My 8 Year old cat who stays indoors only is now sneezing. Do you think he has caught her URI? Also, he is vaccinated and up to date on shots, will this be fatal to him? The shelter did not tell me that my new kitten would possibly still be contagious and they knew I have a cat already at home...I am highly upset. If anything happens to my 8 year old cat I will see what I can do about them not disclosing that URI's are so highly contagious and for saying she was fine to be around my healthy cat.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on October 19, 2011:

Jeanine, I am not a vet and cannot give out information about giving medicine for cats. Vets cannot as well without visiting a pet. Sorry.

Jeanine on October 18, 2011:

One of the kittens I have seems to have a URI, her symptoms are classic and I've seen it before in my other cats. I cannot afford a vet at this time but I do have a prescription for humans of Penicillin VK. Am I able to give her small doses of that? Is it safe?

charlie on September 06, 2011:

i have a kitty diagnosed with URI and the vet said to do nothing but let his immune system do its thing, its been about two weeks

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on February 16, 2011:

Misty, I would be extra cautious on giving aspirin to cats, they do not metabolize it well and may do more damage than good. Best to consult with a vet first The boric acid must be diluted, and should not be confused with borax! Thanks for commenting!

Misty39 from Massachusetts USA on February 15, 2011:

I meant to mention to every one that Paul Newman's grand daughter has made some great cat food with all vits.and natural foods.It's on the expensive side but it's really worth it.I cut down on the amounts of giving my cat so much & so often because this new Paul Newman food is richer in the long run.Smaller amounts two to three meals a day or for older one's,once a day.There is both wet & dry.There is an organization name that might help those in great need,not sure if it's nation wide or not,but you can do a web search for humane financial animal assistance or close,keep trying some one is out there for every one's needs,good luck.

Misty39 from Massachusetts USA on February 15, 2011:

I also have a cat with upper resp.infection,I use boric acid in her eyes it did wonders for her eyes as one eye was almost closed,now wide open & well.She has been throwing up constantly,but again she insists on grooming her fur therefore she throws up fur balls.I heard that salt is deadly to animals? baby food is good for a cat easpcially with rice as it absorbs any impurities in the system.I just bought a warm steamer vaporizer,I need to re-start it up.My kitten has hit up four rooms with throwing up so I cornered her at the last one lol,I'm not to sure what to do with her as it seems to be such a strain on her little tummy while throwing up.As for the kitties fever I hear you can give them a small dose of baby asperin but not too often,as their kidneys are already at risk.Good luck every one...God bless us all and our precious babies in great need.

Jennifer on December 11, 2010:

My 11 year old cat has a severe upper respiratory infection. Try squirting saline drops up her nose and get canned food or a can of A/D canned food from your vet and mix it with Pedialyte (clear non-flavored) and force feed them. If your cats are dehydtated you can also give them syringes of pedialyte to. And it's a must to keep there nose and eyes clear of discharge. Also keep them warm

Kathy from Independence, Kansas on October 13, 2010:

This is a very timely article for me to have found as we just rescued 3 mothers and their kittens and several are exhibiting signs such as above. Thank you for excellent, detailed ways in which to identify and remedy this illness. I'm on my way home right now to do just that...Thank YOU!!!

Lilly B on September 21, 2010:

I have 10 cats and one by Dopmino effect have been getting the URI..Uggg I ma devasted.,..I had to ask the Vet to please sell some more clavamox so i could give them...he did, but I did not count on all of the getting sick and don't have enough money to buy for more... I am just praying and hoping that they will get better... a Vet tech friend brought me some anitibiotics last night..(not clavamox)and it made them throw up..No no no...devastating...:(((((((

mae on September 20, 2010:

my new kitten it 12 weeks old and got upper respetory infection took her to the vet they gave her a shot so relived that it wasn't aids!

sam on July 17, 2010:

i got a kitten thats 2 months old then a few weeks ago i got a 9 month old and a 2 month old the nine month old was sneezing and i was like oh no!! but after 2 weeks my newer kitten and the 9 month seem to have runny noses, thirstyness and sad eyes. i feel so bad but i cant go to the vet bcuz i don't have the money rite now because im not old enough to work i feel bad and they are outside kittys they live in a shed with plenty water , food and ventalasion but what else can i do for them outside?

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on April 09, 2010:

Setting up a vaporizer without meds in it is often helpful for breathing and to help his nose stay moist. It is an old wive's tale however that dry noses are indicative of bad health in cats and dogs. A dry nose therefore isn't really a problem by itself. Indeed,many healthy cats have dry noses.It is good he is eating and getting fluids. Best wishes!

James on April 08, 2010:

My cat has been diagnosed with URI. He is eating baby food and tuna and drinking water when I mix it with tuna water..I am worried that his nose tends to get dry. Any suggestions?

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on October 28, 2009:

Bless your heart for taking care of all these feral kitties! There are several financial institutions that may help you such as care credit. These kitties really need some antibiotics in order to get better, I am afraid there may not be any way around especially since it sounds like this may be more than a mild form.

Carol Gechter on October 26, 2009:

I have 4 adult cats, 3 male one female. I took in a bottle raised feral kitten with a sore eye. A week later I took in a litter of 5 feral healthy kittens. Now 2 weeks later I have 6 sick kittens and my female is also sick. The sickest kittens are the 3 that I know are females, the others just have a little squint and drainage. The kitten that originally had the sore eye is almost healed but the other 2 female kittens eyes cake almost shut. The one is on antibiotic liquid. She was the first one that showed respiratory symtoms so I took her to the emergency vet to the tune of $114. I couldn't afford to take the rest. I have been using tetramyacin salve in their eyes and they do seem to gradually be getting better. My adult female is laying around, not eating and cuddling with me all the time. Not herself. She also seems to have a fever. Are there any meds I can get without taking all 7 cats to a vet? I can't afford that. They are all inside cats and as soon as they are old enough I will have all the kittens fixed at the shelter. I'm at my limit cat wise but I had to take the kittens in that the feral cat had under my shed...LOL She knew who to take that litter to! LOL

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on January 17, 2009:

Looks like your cats are very lucky to have you! Lean is very good! Best wishes!

Debra Allen from West By God on January 17, 2009:

You are welcome and I hope others take these tips too.

All my cats are allowed to eat whenever they want. I have their dishes up high for the dog not to get them and they can graze when hungry. I don't have any fat cats in my house--or outdoors either.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on January 17, 2009:

Cats that are off food too long (and more on the obese side) may be vulnerable to a condition called "fatty liver disease' so force feeding is a must in some cases. Thanks for your helpful tips, they will be useful for people and kitties in this situation.

Debra Allen from West By God on January 17, 2009:

They are just like human babies--not much you can give them. Thi happens every year. What I will do if they can't eat or won't eat is fill a srynge up with watered down can cat food and feed them that way. They have to swallow it and it does go to their bellies, It's just hard on the people who have to hold them. Oh and when you hold them in the towel in a cacoon you have to hold them upright or they drown in their mucus. They feel like they are anyway.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on January 17, 2009:

Upper respiratories are awful to deal with. Sorry to hear your girl went through that ordeal. Saline drops work very well in congested cats in effect. Thanks for posting!

Debra Allen from West By God on January 17, 2009:

I have two that are infected and are isolated. I talked with the Vet and he sujjexted on drop per nasla passage of Psuedonepherin. I did that with one of my other cats and she was very allergic to that and I almost lost her. She was foaming at the mouth and screaming. I gave her some charcoal nad within minutes she was better and by morning she was without the virus! Since she was an outdoor cat, I let her back outside ad she has been fine since and that was a month ago.

Now I just use a drop of salt water. It is non-toxic and breaks up the mucus --for a shorter period of time, but it allows the cat to eat and drink while it can breath easier.

For some reason only the girl cats got it much worse then the boys who only had it about a week and just the sniffles. They weren't as stopped up as the girls.

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