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

Canberra Cat Vet Blog

Runny noses

Friday, January 09, 2015

Macey doesn't like sneezing one little bit!


Snuffles, sneezing, noisy breathing, snoring and nasal discharge are signs of nasal and sinus disease.

In young cats the flu viruses – feline herpesvirus and calicivirus – are the most common cause. These viruses damage the nasal mucosa and then bacteria infect the nasal passages causing a pussy discharge and a loss of appetite.  In some cats this leads to chronic or lifetime infection of the fine bones within the nose and sinuses.  

Young to middle age cats sometimes acquire fungal infections like cryptococcosis and aspergillosis if they spend a lot of time outdoors.

Inflammatory polyps at the back of the nose in the nasal part of the throat cause snuffles and snoring in some cats.  

Physical damage from foreign objects in the nose like grass seeds, cat bites or car accidents, or associated with severe dental disease will cause snuffles and nasal discharge in any age cat.  

More seriously, some cats develop tumours in the nasal passages or extending from other areas into the nose.   

 What tests can be done to find the cause of the disease?  We first do non-invasive tests, such as a blood test for cryptococcosis, a blood count, biochemistry or tests for feline Leukaemia virus and FIV. Then we consider a general anaesthetic to X-ray the nose and examine the nose, throat and mouth.  We take samples and look for bacteria, fungi, evidence of inflammation or cancer cells. If the teeth and gums are diseased a dental treatment often resolves the problem.

We can control but not cure chronic bacterial rhinitis because the chronically damaged bones cannot be repaired.   Antibiotics reduce secondary bacterial infection and steam inhalation in a steamy bathroom or from a vaporiser helps clear the passages.  The most essential aspect of treatment is good nursing care: keeping the cat’s face clean and clear of discharge, and stimulating the appetite with warm, strong smelling foods.  

Other diseases require specific treatments. We remove polyps surgically, treat fungal diseases with antifungal drugs and control some cancers with chemotherapy.      

Snotty nose cats

Saturday, May 31, 2014

                                                                                                                                                                  Snotty-nosed and snuffly cats are difficult to live with.Their owners put up with sneezes and snot all over the house, as well as snuffles and grumbles all day and half the night.

The causes of sinusitis and rhinosinusitis are also difficult for vets to diagnose accurately and even more difficult to treat effectively.

Inflammation and infection spread rapidly from cats’ throats to adjacent structures, such as the middle ear, frontal sinuses, nose and tympanic bullae. These cavities are difficult to reach with medical or surgical treatments.

Feline mucus is also thicker than human mucus and medication has a hard time penetrating the mucus to get to the offending microbes.

Feline Herpesvirus is the most common initiating cause of chronic rhinitis and rhinosinusitis. It causes chronic airway inflammation and swelling, destroys the normal lining of the nasal cavity and upsets the normal mucus layers. The nasal cavity cannot remove foreign particles or the abnormal mucus and the sinuses become blocked. Bacteria leap in and set up infections making the situation even worse.

Drugs to reduce the mucus and the swelling in the sinuses help a bit. We treat the bacterial infection with antibiotics but are still left with Herpesvirus and all the damage it does. Herpesvirus sinusitis soon flares up into full blown bacterial sinusitis again. Some cats respond well to antiviral drugs but others keep getting intermittent sinusitis.

Nastier causes of similar signs are Cryptococcosis, a fungal disease, and cancer, commonly lymphoma, adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. These are difficult to distinguish on X-ray but CT or MRI are very helpful, if they are available. A biopsy clears up any doubts. A blood test is available for Cryptococcosis.

Bad teeth and infected tooth roots sometimes make cats snuffly. A dental inspection and X-ray under general anaesthetic allow targeted and successful treatment.

Occasionally a cat breathes in a grass seed or other foreign body. Usually nasal discharge is from one side only and there is some bleeding.


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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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