My Cat's Sniffling & Sneezing

Just like us humans, our feline friends can catch "colds".  These usually result in the same symptoms you or I would have - runny nose, sniffling, and sneezing.  Jana H. writes:

My cat, Markee, has been sniffling and sneezing for a few days now. I’m worried that she might be sick. What should I do to help her?

Jana, a trip to your veterinarian is never a bad idea when it comes to treating Markee.  Chances are, if you're like most cat guardians, it's been a while since you've taken her in.  This can be a good excuse to get her the yearly examination that all cats need to receive.  Unfortunately, there won't be much the doctor can do to cure Markee if she has an upper respiratory infection.

You see, this sort of infection is usually caused by viruses.  Veterinarians, just like human doctors, don't have medications that are sufficient at treating them.  There are other possible causes, but it usually isn't worth pursuing costly diagnostics unless the cold sticks around for longer than two weeks.

Your best course of treatment is to make sure Markee stays well fed and hydrated.  Cats only eat what they can smell, so if her nasal passages get blocked, she may lose her appetite.  If that happens and she stops eating, you may need to help clear her nasal passages. 

If she stops eating, it can help to give her normal saline solution nose drops before each meal.  Never use solutions made for humans.  It's best to make the saline solution yourself by dissolving 1/8 teaspoon of sea salt into 1/2 cup of boiled water.  Cool it thoroughly and store it covered in the refrigerator.  Before each use, warm it to body temperature and load it into a dropper.  Place Markee on a tabletop or counter and massage her face.  Hold her head from behind and administer three drops of the solution to each nostril.  You may need to hold her bead back for five or six seconds to make sure the solution has gotten in deep enough to do some good.  Be sure to talk her through the procedure, telling her how you're doing this to help and comfort her.  She may not understand the words, but your firm manner and comforting tone will go a long way to putting her at ease.  Blot any excess liquid and release her head.  If she flicks her tongue out, you've succeeded and the solution has run down her throat.  Be sure to have some soft tissues handy as Markee may sneeze out some congestion shortly after this treatment.

If you have other cats, you'll want to quarantine Markee.  These kinds of infections are highly contagious to other cats but are completely safe for us humans.  It's very likely that the cold will run its course in 10 to 14 days and Markee will be back to normal.  Just keep an eye on her to help her keep her face clean and make sure she's still eating and drinking.  We wish you and Markee all the best!