Cat Flu - Cat Upper Respiratory Problem

by Elly
(Cornwall)

Hi, my cat Merlin is 11 months old and has fought with his cat flu twice now. We got him and his sister Ace from some good friends when their cat had a litter. Unfortunately his older brother Jem (from a previous litter) had come into contact with a cat with cat flu (he didn't get it himself) and he passed it onto the kittens, Merlin and his sister, along with their brother Boots.

All have had varying degrees of cat flu. Ace and Boots had a swollen eye that went away, although Ace now has a damaged tear duct which means her eye doesn't clean itself properly, but Merlin had it much worse because he was the runt. He was seconds from death when at his worse, and we were drip feeding him and eventually had to send him back to his cat mother who took him back and nursed him back to health.

Our cat is too old for that now and he's probably worse than the first time round. His nose is blocked but the vet has us using Bisolvon to clear the mucus in his throat and lungs. We're also using Metacam for our cat to lessen the pain in his joints, mouth and throat as he has ulcers in the last two. He moves around and sometimes takes himself outside but it's a lot of effort for him, after just a few feet he needs to sit down and rest. He is going to the toilet once a day for one big pee only.

We're feeding him on A/D, which is high in proteins and calories, because he's lost so much weight and won't eat on his own. We're also using olbas oil and steamers to try and clear his nose so he can smell again. Yesterday, our cat looked at a bowl of biscuits put down for his sister and he looked like he wanted to eat them as he tried to sniff them but he still didn’t eat.

Recently he's also had thick yellow mucus leaking from both his eyes. This cat eye discharge has gotten so bad that he barely opens either of them, and the vet says it's a secondary infection and should go away on his own. However, Merlin has such trouble seeing that he's always bumping into things on his way to the cat litter box. The mucus also smells quite putrid and his third eyelids are pink and swollen. What's more is that our cat’s right eye appears to be a solid white, with no color or pupil at all! We're afraid he might be blind in that eye.

Can you offer any advice that might help us in some way? He's entering his 4th week like this!


Dear Elly,

It sounds as though you may be under the care of a holistic veterinarian. I don’t have anything against holistic treatment, but believe it should be used in conjunction with traditional veterinary medicine. I believe your cat needs to be on antibiotics, both by mouth and in his eyes.

Your cat is very ill with what sounds like feline herpes virus that has not been properly controlled. I would recommend beginning your cat on l-lysine to help control this as well, but, in my opinion, he absolutely needs to be on feline antibiotics for a such a severe upper respiratory illness. I am just not comfortable with the route your veterinarian has chosen to take with treating your cat’s illness.

If you choose to continue treating your cat without traditional antibiotics, the one thing I would absolutely want you to know is that your cat should be taken off of the Metacam immediately. Metacam can actually kill cats, and despite the pain your cat may be experiencing from any ulcers, there are other much safer ways of controlling feline pain.

I am so sorry to hear that your cat is so ill and wish you all the best in treating his feline illness.

All the best,
Dr. Neely

Return to Cat Upper Respiratory Infection.

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