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Guide to Natural Remedies for Cat Upper Respiratory Infection


Is your furry feline sneezing, coughing, dealing with nasal congestion or experiencing puffy eyes? As a pet parent, it’s distressing to see your beloved cat experiencing these symptoms. But don’t fret! In this ultimate guide, we explore a number of natural remedies for cat upper respiratory infection, as well as home care and diet changes to restore their health and vitality.

At PetsWeekly, we understand the importance of your cat’s wellbeing. That’s why we’ve curated this comprehensive guide to natural remedies for cat upper respiratory infections. Of course, your veterinarian is your most powerful source of treatment, but we know that it’s not always possible to get your cats there immediately. That’s why we want to offer you practical tips to mitigate symptoms until you can.

You can provide the relief your cat needs without relying solely on medication.

Support your cat’s natural healing process with these tips.

Understanding Cat Upper Respiratory Infection

Understanding the nature of URIs can help you provide the best care and support for your cat’s recovery. So, let’s explore how and why cats are so susceptible to them…

URIs in cats are typically caused by viruses, such as feline herpesvirus and calicivirus (more on that below). These viruses are highly contagious and can spread easily among cats, especially in crowded environments like shelters or multi-cat households.

Bacterial infections can also contribute to URIs, often secondary to viral infections.

Upper respiratory infections often result in a host of pesky symptoms – primarily affecting the nose, throat, and sinus areas, which lead to discomfort and distress for your feline friend. Natural remedies for cat upper respiratory infections (URIs) can help make your feline friend feel much better during recovery.

Causes of Cat Upper Respiratory Infection

Cat upper respiratory infections can be caused by various factors.Primarily, these come down to viral and bacterial infections, but environmental triggers can also play a role. Understanding the underlying causes can help you take preventive measures to protect your cat’s health.

Cat upper respiratory infections are generally considered viral infections. This means, they probably caught it from another cat. The viruses usually responsible for your cat’s condition generally fall into two categories:

  • Feline herpesvirus (also known as Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis or FVR for short). This is a highly contagious and species-specific virus called FHV-1 causes feline herpesvirus (FVR), a respiratory illness plaguing domestic and wild cats of all ages. You’ll usually see FVR manifest in conjunctivities (inflammation of the tissues around the eyes).
  • Calicivirus, This highly contagious pathogen, stands as a significant contributor to upper respiratory infections and oral disease in cats. It typically manifests in the nose and throat, presenting as sneezing, nasal congestion, conjunctivitis, and discharge from the nose or eyes. Infected cats shed the virus through saliva and nasal/ocular secretions. Fortunately, standard core vaccines effectively immunize against calicivirus, diminishing disease severity and duration should exposure occurare the primary culprits behind most cat URIs.

These viruses are highly contagious and can be transmitted through direct contact with an infected cat or by sharing contaminated items, such as food bowls or bedding. Stressful situations, such as changes in the environment or introduction of a new pet, can also weaken a cat’s immune system and make them more susceptible to URIs.

Common Symptoms of Feline Respiratory Infections

Recognizing the symptoms of a cat upper respiratory infection is crucial for early intervention and effective treatment. Keep an eye out for these common signs that your cat may be suffering from a URI.

  • Sneezing: Frequent bouts of sneezing, sometimes accompanied by nasal discharge, are a common symptom of URIs in cats. If you notice your cat sneezing excessively, it’s a good indication that their respiratory system is compromised.
  • Coughing: Cats with URIs may develop a dry, hacking cough. This cough is usually non-productive, meaning there is no phlegm or mucus expelled.
  • Nasal Congestion: A stuffy or runny nose is another tell-tale sign of a cat URI. If you notice your cat sniffling or having difficulty breathing through their nose, it’s likely due to nasal congestion.
  • Watery Eyes: URIs can cause excessive tearing and watery eyes in cats. If your cat’s eyes appear red, swollen, or have discharge, it’s a sign of inflammation and infection.
  • Lethargy: Cats with URIs often experience a decrease in energy levels and overall lethargy. If your cat seems unusually tired or less active than usual, it could be a result of their infection. But, remember, it could also be representative of other issues, like kidney disease.

Natural Remedies for Upper Respiratory Infection

Cat upper respiratory infection are traumatic for you and your cats, but there are a few things you can try until you can get to your veterinarian. Hopefully, some of these natural remedies can provide relief for your furry friend without relying solely on medication.

But, remember, more is not better. Your cat will not improve if you do all of these options and, in fact, too much (or too many things) can make them dramatically worse. So, only try one or two at a time and make sure your cat can tolerate it. Every animal is different!

Here are a few of our favorite effective natural remedies:

Nutritional Support for Respiratory Relief

Proper nutrition plays a vital role in supporting your cat’s recovery from an upper respiratory infection. A well-balanced diet can help boost their immune system and provide the necessary nutrients for a swift recovery.

It’s important to ensure your cat is eating a high-quality cat food that is rich in essential vitamins and minerals. Look for formulas that contain antioxidants, such as vitamin C and E, which can help strengthen their immune system.

Lysine, an essential amino acid (which is often marketed as Enisyl-F, Incremin, Viralys, Felisyl, and Optixcare), is a great dietary supplement to alleviate clinical signs in cats suffering from feline herpesvirus infection.

Additionally, consider adding a high-quality wet food or low-sodium broth to their diet to increase their fluid intake and provide additional hydration.

Hydration is crucial for cats with URIs, as it helps thin mucus and relieve congestion. Ensure your cat has access to fresh water at all times, and consider using a pet fountain to encourage them to drink more. If your cat is reluctant to drink, you can try adding a little bit of water to their food or offering them low-sodium chicken broth as a tasty alternative.

Home Remedies

Home remedies can help alleviate your cat’s symptoms and boost their immune system. Consider the following remedies:

  • Steam Therapy: Create a steamy environment by running a hot shower or using a humidifier in the same room as your cat. The steam can help relieve nasal congestion and make breathing easier.
  • Warm Compress: Gently place a warm compress on your cat’s face to soothe irritated nasal passages and reduce inflammation. Make sure the compress is warm, not hot, and never leave it unattended with your cat.
  • Saline Solution: Use a saline solution to flush out your cat’s nasal passages. We suggest avoiding one made at home, which can create other health problems, and instead purchase a saline solution specifically designed for cats.
  • Honey: Honey has natural antibacterial properties and can help soothe your cat’s throat. However, remember that honey can be very dangerous for cats as they don’t possess the enzymes to break it down. Eating too much honey can cause a range of issues, from weight gain to diabetes and even kidney and liver issues. A little goes a LONG way. Choose the proper honey (we suggest using Manuka Honey) Mix a small amount of honey with warm water and offer it to your cat as a natural cough suppressant.

Herbal Supplements

Upper respiratory infections in cats can be distressing, but there are natural remedies available to help alleviate your cat’s symptoms and support their recovery. From herbal supplements to home remedies, you have a range of options to choose from. Remember to consult with a veterinarian before trying any new remedies, and prioritize your cat’s overall well-being with proper nutrition and hydration.

Herbal supplements can provide immune-boosting and antiviral properties to support your cat’s recovery. First, read this very informative article about the dangers of using essential oils on cats. Then, consider the following herbal remedies:

  • Echinacea: Echinacea is a popular herb known for its immune-boosting properties. Echinacea has been used for centuries to boost the immune system. Echinacea stimulates the production of white blood cells, strengthening your cat’s defenses against infections. It’s available in various forms, including capsules, tinctures, and teas. You can find Echinacea supplements specifically formulated for cats at pet stores or consult with a holistic veterinarian for the appropriate dosage.
  • Licorice Root: Licorice root has anti-inflammatory properties and can help soothe your cat’s respiratory system. It is available in the form of herbal teas or tinctures, but be sure to consult with a veterinarian before administering it to your cat. Licorice root contains glycyrrhizin, a compound known for its anti-inflammatory properties. This herb can help reduce inflammation in the respiratory tract, easing your cat’s symptoms and promoting healing. Licorice root can be administered as a tea or in supplement form, but it’s important to consult your vet for the correct dosage.
  • Goldenseal: Lastly, consider incorporating goldenseal into your cat’s treatment plan. Goldenseal contains berberine, a compound with antimicrobial properties. It can help fight off bacteria and viruses, reducing the duration and severity of your cat’s upper respiratory infection. Goldenseal is available as a supplement or a tincture, but always consult your vet before introducing any new herbal remedy.

Essential Oils for Cat Upper Respiratory Infection

Certain essential oils can be used safely and effectively to provide relief for cat upper respiratory infections. However, it’s important to note that not all essential oils are safe for cats. Always consult with a veterinarian before using essential oils on your feline friend.

Essential oils can be a valuable tool in managing your cat’s upper respiratory infection. However, it’s crucial to use them with caution, as cats are more sensitive to essential oils than humans. Never apply essential oils directly to your cat’s fur or skin, as they can be toxic when ingested or absorbed.

One safe way to use essential oils is through diffusion. Diffusing oils such as eucalyptus or lavender can help clear your cat’s nasal passages and promote easier breathing. Make sure to use pet-safe essential oils and follow proper dilution guidelines recommended by experts.

Additionally, steam inhalation can provide relief for your cat’s respiratory symptoms. Create a steamy environment in your bathroom by running a hot shower and allow your cat to spend a few minutes in the moist air. This can help loosen congestion and soothe irritated airways. Remember to supervise your cat during the steam session and avoid using essential oils directly in the steam.

Here are some mostly safe options:

  • Eucalyptus: Eucalyptus essential oil has decongestant properties and can help relieve nasal congestion in cats. Dilute a few drops of eucalyptus oil with a carrier oil, such as coconut oil, and place it in a diffuser in the same room as your cat.
  • Lavender: Lavender essential oil has calming properties and can help reduce stress and anxiety in cats. Dilute a few drops of lavender oil with a carrier oil and apply a small amount to your cat’s bedding or collar.

Prevention of Illness in Cats

As the old saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. This is especially true when it comes to cat upper respiratory infections. While it may not be possible to completely eliminate the risk of illness, you can take certain measures to reduce the likelihood of your cat contracting a URI.

  • Vaccination: Ensure your cat is up to date on their vaccinations, especially for viral infections like feline herpesvirus and calicivirus. Regular vaccinations can significantly reduce the risk of your cat developing a URI.
  • Hygiene: Practice good hygiene by regularly cleaning your cat’s litter box, food bowls, and bedding. Wash your hands thoroughly after handling multiple cats or visiting environments with a high concentration of cats, such as shelters.
  • Stress Reduction: Minimize stressful situations for your cat, as stress can weaken their immune system and make them more susceptible to URIs. Provide a calm and secure environment, and gradually introduce new pets or changes to their routine.

With your love and care, your cat will be on the road to recovery in no time.

Disclosure: Our foremost priority is the well-being of your pets. While we strive to provide information on natural remedies, it’s crucial to note that we are not veterinarians. Our content is not a substitute for professional veterinary advice, diagnosis, or treatment. We strongly recommend consulting with your veterinarian before attempting any natural remedies to ensure the health and safety of your beloved animals.


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