Kitten cold, post-vet visit

by Mrs. Tilley
(Peterborough, Ontario, Canada)


Hello! We adopted a 10-week-old barn kitten named Oliver in mid-August. We noticed some sneezing and runny nose, and decided we'd address it with our vet.

At the vet, the doctor said he was well enough to have his booster shots, and sounded clear enough that she felt the infection was viral and did not require antibiotics.

Since then, Oliver has continued to sneeze several times a day, often with a teeny amount of discharge. The discharge is slightly opaque and whitish. There's such a small amount, it's hard to tell if it's greenish or not.

Aside from this, he's acting like a normal kitten, playing all the time, napping comfortably, and eating with gusto.

Should we be concerned? How do we know if he's getting better? What can we do at home to make him more comfortable? Could our air conditioner be aggravating the issue?

Thank you for any help you can provide!

Dear Mrs. Tilley,

If your kitten is eating and playful, it doesn't sound as though he is uncomfortable, but he may need to be examined by a veterinarian again.

You didn't say where this discharge was coming from on your new kitten. If the discharge is coming from your kitten's nose, this is not normal and warrants another trip to the veterinarian. For that matter, colored discharge from a cat or kitten's eyes or nose, or any discharge from the nose, is not normal.

He may indeed "just" have a virus, but even viruses need supportive treatment if they affect a cat's health. In addition, cats are quick to develop secondary bacterial infections which may indeed need antibiotics.

Also, the virus could be a chronic feline herpes virus. You can learn more about this virus here.

As you can read in detail on that page, there are many different options available for treating a kitten with chronic feline herpes virus, including antibiotics, anti-virals if necessary, and supplements like L-lysine. Cats and kittens can live long, happy lives with this condition as long as they are treated.

The flip side is that he is eating and playing and the amount of discharge you are seeing is so small. It is possible you could just watch him and see if the sneezing decreases on its own as long as he's active and eating and drinking and isn't getting worse. If it worsens, go quickly to the vet.

It's unfortunate he received vaccines while he was already suffering from a probable virus. The added stress to his body may have made it harder for him to recover from the virus he already had. I personally wouldn't have vaccinated him until he was completely well.

All the best,
Dr. Neely

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