Symptoms Of A Sick Cat

by Josh
(New York, NY)

Reader Question: How Do I Know If My Cat Is Sick?

My cat is 6 years old. She has been having runny eyes for months. She seems to have hard time breathing at night. She also isn't as active as she uses to be. I can't tell if she has allergies or is sick.

How do I know? She swallows a lot in her sleep, I feel like she is has a hard time breathing.

Veterinarians Advice On How To Tell If Your Cat has A Cold


I can’t definitively diagnose your cat based off of a description alone, but based on her history and clinical signs; I am most concerned that she could be suffering from a chronic respiratory infection. A variety of microorganisms can be responsible, including viruses like herpes virus and calicivirus, and bacteria like Chlamydophyla, Mycoplasma and Bordetella. Many cats are able to clear these infections on their own, but particularly with the viruses, they can also lead to chronic symptoms. I can’t rule out the possibility of allergies, but I think that is less likely than something like a herpes virus infection.

Your best option is to bring your cat in to see your veterinarian. He or she should be able to give you a pretty good idea about what is going on based on a thorough history, physical exam, and perhaps some diagnostic testing. If you want to try something at home first, keep your cat’s eyes and nose free of buildup by regularly wiping them with a wet, warm cloth, and encourage her to keep eating, drinking, resting, and relaxing. If at any point her symptoms get worse rather than better, she begins to cough, or she stops eating, definitely make an appointment with your veterinarian. Some owners have had luck with supplements containing lysine like Viralys or homeopathic preparations along with maintaining a living situation that is as stress-free as possible and providing optimal nutrition to boost her immune system.


Jennifer Coates, DVM

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