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Treating Your Cat's URI NaturallyBeing a pet parent would be so much easier if they could tell us exactly what’s wrong, where it hurts and what we can do to make it better.  (We could also finally figure out what the heck they’re up to when we’re not home.)

Every good pet owner knows that having a sick pet is no fun.  Not only do you wish you could take the pain away but you’re also stressing about vet bills, ruined household items and whether or not everything will be okay when you come home each day.

If you suspect that your cat is suffering from an upper respiratory infection (URI), there’s good news and bad news: 

The good news is that URIs are basically just the feline version of a cold - they go away with time and the cost of treatment isn’t high.

The bad news is that there’s no immediate cure and your pet may have to suffer through one to three weeks of being sick before they finally feel like themselves again. It's also highly contagious, so if you have other animals, you should plan on isolating your cat until they are free from symptoms. 

More good news - there are plenty of ways to treat your cat’s URI from home. Below are some of the things you can do to put them on the fast track to recovery. These tips will also help you get through a long weekend if you can't reach the veterinarian. Rest assured your cat's immune system is alrady working hard to bring them to health and conquer the virus. 

Always speak to your veterinarian before trying natural remedies. Most vets are happy to answer your questions over the phone or through email free of charge. If the symptoms worsen or persist longer than one week, make an appointment with your veterinarian. Pets are family and deserve medical care that is reflective of their significance in our lives.

Symptoms and Treatments

Common symptoms of a URI in your cat include watery eyes, sneezing, coughing, difficulty breathing and loss of appetite. 

While some of these symptoms are less serious, some of them could warrant a trip to the vet if they go on too long or are seriously affecting your cat’s well-being beyond simple discomfort.

Before a visit to the vet, you should know that there are plenty of things you can do for each of these major symptoms.

Watery Eyes

watery cat eyes

One of the first signs your kitty is suffering from a URI is watery eyes.  As a result, discharge usually collects in the corners of their eyes causing mild discomfort.  So what can you do to help?  Start by moistening a cloth with a saline solution.  After restraining your cat to avoid injury, take the cloth and wipe away any residue you find around their eyes.

Not only will this make it easier for them to open and close their eyes, but this will also give them a fresh and clean feeling when they don’t have the energy to clean themselves.

After doing this a few times, if your cat shows increased signs of discomfort, consider taking them to the vet for some prescription eye ointment.

Sneezing/Runny Nose

Sneezing cat

The next symptom after you deal with watery eye discharge is sneezing and a runny nose. 

Your cat relies on his sense of smell to eat and hunt. When he's got a URI, he may not want to eat. This can result in more serious problems down the road with severe weight loss, kidney conditions, and more. 

Make sure your cat is eating all of their food. You may need to temporarily switch out the type of food you normally use to a more "stinky" food (like salmon, tuna, or other strong fishy odor). Often, warming your cat's food in the microwave for a few seconds can help make the odor stronger. This will help encourage your cat to eat. 

Be certain you don't let the food get too warm. Test the food by touching the center of it and make sure it's only lukewarm. Just a slight temperature adjustment can help improve it's palatability. 

Other things youl'l need to watch for includes monitoring your cat's grooming. Since your cat may be spending more time sleeping than pursuing their usual prolonged bathing routine, a runny nose can often mean messy paws and a messy bed. Plan to spend some extra time grooming them and make sure you keep their bedding clean. 

Bathing your cat is similiar to how you handled your cat’s watery eyes: Place clean water on a warm cloth and gently wipe their nose and paws.  URIs are extremely contagious, so practice very good hygiene after cleaning your cat or the room you're keeping them in. Otherwise, you may transfer the illness to your other cats, pets, or humans. 

Coughing/Difficulty Breathing

Difficulty breathing

You’ll know the URI has worsened when your cat begins to cough or show other signs that may mean they’re having difficulty breathing. Depending ont he severity of the condition, you may need to schedule an emergency appointment with your veterinarian. But if it's mild coughing, you can keep a close eye on your cat and treat at home. 

Just as we treat coughs in humans, one of the first things your doctor will recommended is the use of steam

Steam is great for loosening up the nasal passages and soothing tension that may cause headaches. Luckily, the same can be done for cats. Run your shower as hot as you can. Once the steam has built up, you can go track down your cat and encourage him to come into the bathroom with you. Don't attempt to put your cat in the shower - just being in a room with steam is good. 

Close the door and think of some things you can do to keep your cat occupied - treats, toys and even grooming them can help keep them relaxed and calm. This is also an excellent opportunity to clean their eyes and do a quick check for other symptoms. 

While most cats will not tolerate the second method, it may be worth a try: Boil some water, hold your cat close to your chest and drape a large towel over the two of you and the hot water.  Do this several times per day for at least five minutes at a time.  If you and your cat can stand to be under the towel for longer than five minutes, stay there.  The longer they breathe in the steam, the more likely they are to benefit from it.

Loss of Appetite

cat eating

It can be scary when your pet starts to lose their appetite.  Most pet owners can agree that under eating is rarely a problem.  When it comes to URIs, cats tend to lose their appetite because of the decreased ability to smell their food before consumption.  This is a natural instincts all cats have.  

It’s important to keep your cat well-fed through their illness.  This will be a major force in ensuring they recover as quickly as possible.  You can help your cat return to their regular eating habits by providing them with warm food as it will give off a stronger smell.  After heating up their food for a few days in a row, they should soon be ready to eat on their own again.

It can take 1-3 weeks to shake an upper respiratory virus, so be very patient. If symptoms continue longer than that or grow worse, get your cat into the veterianraina immediately. He may need a breathing treatment, additional oxygen support, and antibiotics (or other prescription). 

About the Author
Jayson GoetzJayson is a writer from Phoenix, Arizona who loves pets! He is a proud owner of a beautiful kitty and wants to share the joy of pet ownership with others. He hopes to encourage people to keep their pets happy and healthy year-round. Visit him at LinkedIn or Instagram


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