Kitten coughing after her cat spaying procedure

by Maher

My little Queen Sambuca had her cat spaying procedure 12 days ago. She is 6.5 months old. She started coughing 5 days ago. I took my cat to the vet twice, and he keeps telling me she’s eating too fast.

We took an x-ray that is clear she didn’t eat a solid or foreign object. He told us, after 9 days, that we should give my cat antibiotics. The veterinarian gave her an antibiotic shot, and for 5 days, we should give her a feline antibiotic pill and a syrup called Keflex 0.3mg.

My veterinarian didn’t tell us when we took her in after 3 days of her cat spaying procedure! Will she be okay? I read in another post it could have affected my cat’s immune system and she may not recover! Is this true??

Dear Maher,

It wasn’t clear to me what you were referring to when you said “it” may have had a negative impact on your cat’s immune system, but if you were referring to the cat spaying procedure, this would not be the case. However, there are components of your cat’s recent trips to the vet that could have contributed to her getting sick.

The cat spaying procedure does not suppress a cat’s immune system, but stress certainly can. It is important to remember that cats are very easily stressed, even when you don’t see it. They react very strongly to changes in their surroundings and environments, their schedules and routines, and even the noise and activity levels around them.

There is an old wives tale that you will catch a cold if you go outdoors in winter without a jacket. This is not directly true, of course, because being outside in the cold is not what gives you a cold. However, the stress on your body trying to stay warm can suppress your immune system, making it more likely that you will catch a virus. And the same can happen for cats.

Also, just as with human hospitals, veterinary hospitals are places where sick animals are around at all times. Also, many varieties of nosocomial infections, or those that are essentially naturally living in even the most sanitary hospital environments, linger in an animal hospital just as they do in human hospitals. This does not mean that your vet doesn’t practice stringent hygiene practices or conduct proper sterile cat spaying procedures, but even the best vets can’t kill every possible virus living in their hospitals.

Your cat likely picked up an upper respiratory virus when she was in the veterinary hospital for her cat spaying procedure. If you combine a slightly reduced immune system from the stress of the commute to the vet’s office for the cat spaying with the fact that viruses and bacterial infections surround the vet hospital environment, this could explain why your cat got sick within a few days of her procedure.

Your veterinarian probably didn’t start your kitty on antibiotics right away because her symptoms were, most likely, being caused by a viral infection, which antibiotics cannot treat. These usually run their course without any treatment, but cats are likely to develop bacterial infections secondary to a viral infection. This explains why your veterinarian didn’t start your cat on antibiotics right away.

I’m not sure why you are giving two antibiotics to your cat, though. Are you sure that the pill you are giving is not an antihistamine? In any event, it would seem that your veterinarian has done all the right things for your cat. Since her symptoms didn’t resolve right away, beginning her on antibiotics was the right thing to do at this point.

Unless your cat has an immune disease such as FeLV or FIV that suppresses her immune system, there is no reason that the antibiotics and time won’t cure an upper respiratory infection as long as your cat continues to eat and drink. If your cat has not been tested for these diseases, though, she should be.

Also, hopefully your kitten has had her initial series of feline vaccines, because these vaccinations prevent common viruses that used to kill cats from re-emerging and killing cats today.

Please know that you did nothing wrong, your veterinarian did noting wrong, and it was definitely the right thing to have your cat spayed. There are too many abandoned and unwanted cats in the world, and not following through with cat spaying can just add to these problems.

All the best,
Dr. Neely

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