Appointments: (02) 6251 1444
16-18 Purdue St, Belconnen, ACT
(Parking via Gillott Street)
Mon - Fri: 8:30am - 5:30pm
Saturday: 8:30am - 1:00pm
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Canberra Cat Vet Blog

Virus update

Thursday, September 12, 2019
                                               The common strain of Calicivirus is active in the ACT this spring. Kittens with sore mouths, sneezes and runny noses suffer like humans with colds.
Unvaccinated kittens and cats fall victim to Calicivirus and take longer to get over it than vaccinated cats.
Vaccines stimulate the cat's natural immune system to produce defences to viruses.
The two viruses that cause 'cat flu' are calicivirus and herpesvirus. Most cats come into contact with them at some time in their lives.
Owners can bring calicivirus and parvovirus, which causes Feline Panleukopenia or Enteritis, home on their hands and shoes so even indoor cats are at risk of illness.
The vaccine for panleukopaenia is very effective and in adults immunity lasts for 3 years.
The vaccine for the 'cat flu' reduces the severity of flu symptoms and vaccinated cats recover more rapidly.

Sneezes and runny eyes

Thursday, July 20, 2017
                                                                                                                                                                                  Many cats are suffering from cat flu this winter. Mali's runny eye and sneezing are typical of the type we are seeing. He has been picky with his food and inclined to go off on his own instead of playing these last few days too.
The swab revealed that he has herpesvirus, a common cause of cat flu and widespread in the cat population. Mali was vaccinated against herpesvirus so he should only have a mild dose of flu of short duration.
Vaccination against herpesvirus and calicivirus doesn't necessarily prevent cats from getting some signs but the disease is much less severe and prolonged than if they'd had no vaccination.
Severe cat flu in unvaccinated cats can lead to runny nose, chronic sinusitis, mouth ulcers, coughing, pneumonia and even death in young or elderly cats.
Confirmed herpesvirus infections respond to a special antiviral which your vet may prescribe.
Mycoplasma, chlamydia and other bacteria may complicate the viral disease. Antibiotics help control these infections.
Nursing is the most important therapy for cats with flu. To keep their appetite up feed strong smelling foods. If the nose is blocked half an hour in a steamy bathroom helps loosen the secretions up. Wipe mucky eyes and nose with a moist cotton wool or makeup pad.
Purr therapy is crucial to recovery! Lots of gentle petting and coddling will help your sad cat through this difficult patch.

Breathing difficulty

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

If you notice that your cat is having any breathing difficulty call us immediately on 6251 1444. Cats hide chest problems until they are verging on life threatening so do not hesitate to make it an emergency.

A cat is having breathing difficulty if she is mouth breathing, and/ or crouched down with elbows out. A blue tongue with laboured or noisy breathing is very serious. Some cats will stick their tongues out in an effort to open up the airways even more.

The cat in the picture is concentrating on getting a breath. He has his elbows out and his mouth is open (although we can't quite see it). His pupils are also widely dilated as he is very worried.

Some chest diseases like asthma, some cancers or pneumonia cause a cough. Others cause a buildup in fluid around the lungs making it difficult for the cat to expand the lungs and get a good breath.

It is vital to keep the cat as calm as possible on the way to the vet and to let the vet know that you are coming so that we have oxygen ready. Keep handling to a minimum and speak gently and reassure your cat as much as possible. Cats with breathing difficulty often get worse when stressed - but will die if not treated.

Young cats are prone to pyothorax and Feline Infectious Peritonitis, which cause a buildup of pus and fluid in the chest cavity. Older cats are more likely to have heart disease or lymphoma cause a build up of fluid in the chest cavity. The fluid must be drained to relieve the breathing difficulty and then treatment targeted at the underlying disease.

Diseases of the nose, mouth, throat and sinuses sometimes cause noisy or open mouth breathing but the cat is not usually unduly distressed by it and will happily eat and run around despite the snuffles and sneezes. However, if you are in any doubt please phone and clarify the situation.

The cat is this video has pyothorax and is having a lot of trouble breathing.

The cat in the next video is not so distressed - but is breathing rapidly and heavily and could become as distressed as the last cat if stressed.

Training your asthmatic cat to the Aerokat

Friday, May 02, 2014

The dust over summer and then the flowering grasses this autumn have exacerbated the symptoms of many asthmatic cats. Coughing and wheezing are the main signs of asthma in cats, and sometimes a strong bronchospasm causes breathing distress, anxiety and occasionally death.

Cats with asthma squat with their necks extended and their elbows out and cough. They are not bringing up a hairball. They are trying to breathe through narrowed airways. This is what a moderately asthmatic cat looks like:

If asthma is not treated the lung becomes more and more inflamed and infection is likely. A bad attack can cause death.

Cortisone in the form of tablet initially and through an inhaler/spacer like the Aerokat eventually is the foundation of asthma treatment in the cat. Some cats also need a drug like Ventolin to open up the airways.

Many videos on giving your cat the Aerokat are available on the internet. This is one we liked with a more subtle asthma attack:

Training your cat to the Aerokat requires patience and a sense of humour...

Cough or vomit?

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Siamese like Nicholas commmonly suffer from asthmaIt's easy to confuse coughing with retching or vomiting in cats. A coughing cat crouches, sticks her elbows out and opens her mouth to get more air. A vomiting cat sits with the front legs straight, her abdomen contracts and she produces fluid or food.

Many coughing cats have asthma or chronic bronchitis. Like human asthmatics cats with asthma react to something they have inhaled like pollen, cigarette smoke or dust mites. We saw several asthmatic cats during the recent bushfires when the smoke hung low around Canberra.

Cats with bronchitis have long term inflammation of the airways causing thickening of the small airway walls and reduced airflow.

Asthma and bronchitis often overlap in cats. In general, asthmatics have sudden episodes of difficult breathing, wheezing and coughing, while cats with bronchitis have more chronic but less dramatic coughs.

Infections of the bronchi and lungs make asthma and bronchitis suddenly worse.

Other causes of coughing in cats include inhalation of foreign material, such as grass or cigarette smoke, flu virus infections, lungworm, heartworm or lung cancer.

Once we sort out the cause of the cough with X-rays, bronchoscopy or other more specific tests, we target the treatment. For asthma and bronchitis treatment can be lifelong or as necessary.


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A calm, quiet haven for cats and their carers staffed by experienced, cat loving vets and nurses.

Canberra Cat Vet 16-18 Purdue St Belconnen ACT 2617 (parking off Gillott Street) Phone: (02) 6251-1444

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