Feline Sinusitis Is the Worst
December 22, 2013

Feline Sinusitis Is the Worst

Not that long ago, one of my cats started sneezing. I did not think much of it because, well, cats sneeze. I just figured he had something up his nose. However, the next day, his sneezing continued, and two days later he was only breathing through his mouth, had snot dripping from his cute little pink nose, and was lethargic and sleepy but could not actually sleep. Concurrently with his obvious decline, we had an ice and snow storm that rendered me incapable of leaving my house. All I could do is call my vet and ask for advice until I could leave.

And I worried. It turns out he had a serious sinus infection. Who knew cats could get sinus infections so severely? Two days after I called the vet because I knew something was not right, I was finally able to get my cat to the vet. By this time he barely moved, only ate and drank a little, and could not even sleep because he could not breathe. Oh, and did I mention he drooled and gagged on his own snot? Yeah, it was brutal to watch.

I was so shocked to learn that cats can fall prey to such a yucky illness that I wanted to share with redOrbit readers what I learned about sinus infections in cats.

According to Pet WebMD, “Signs of a chronic bacterial infection include a persistent, purulent nasal discharge, often just from one nostril, accompanied by frequent sneezing and sniffling. X-rays may show increased density of one sinus. The cat may appear to have a headache and sit with his eyes partially closed and his head hanging. Diminished appetite, another sign, can lead to rapid weight loss.” All of these signs indicate that a cat is just not well.

The worst part of sinusitis (sinus infection) in a cat is that you can’t just tell a cat to blow its nose or just go lie down or whatever. You can’t just go to the store and pick up over-the-counter stuff and give it to the cat without concern. And the cat can’t tell you what is wrong, so you have to watch for the above-discussed symptoms.

What exactly causes a sinus infection? Well, PetMD lists some possibilities:

  • Parasites
  • Fungal disease
  • Tooth root abscess
  • Viral or bacterial infections
  • Neoplasia (abnormal tissue growth)
  • Congenital abnormalities (e.g., cleft palate)
  • Presence of a foreign object within the nose
  • Nasal polyps (nonmalignant tissue growth or tumor in nose)

Though these are not the only reasons, they are the primary causes for sinusitis in cats. Sinusitis is serious in cats because it can lead to malnourishment and dehydration, which in extreme cases can lead to death. My vet told me that cats eat and drink by smell, so if their noses are so stuffed up that they can’t breathe, then they definitely can’t smell their food. Plus, sinus infections can move to the chest, lungs, and hearts, all of which are dangerous.

My vet put my cat on an antibiotic, steroid, and humidifier regimen. He has to have each of these every day. In two days, I have noticed a marked improvement in his eating, activity, personality, and breathing. He still has goop and clearly is not yet at his best, but he is healing.

I must admit I felt silly for not realizing that cats could get such illness like humans. I knew cats had their own illness, but something as regular as a sinus infection never crossed my mind. I am glad to know now so that I can watch my pets in the future for any symptoms of sinus and respiratory infections.

Image Credit: Tony Campbell / Shutterstock

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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