Why Does My Cat Have Constant Sniffles?

A vet explains how the herpes virus (feline herpesvirus) can cause constant sniffles in cats and how to treat them.

By Arnold Plotnick, DVM

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Savannah Cat Sneezing -- Get Help for Constantly Sniffling Cats
A cat that can't shake the sneezes likely has a viral infection or cat herpesvirus.

Q: My 10-year-old indoor tabby cat has a stuffy nose and is sneezing. She was on Baytril when she first got sick, and the medicine cleared it up.

Three months later it came back.

She then took azithromycin and L-lysine, which cleared it up.

Three months later it came back again.

Our cat's vet says a virus in her immune system, like herpes, causes my cat's sneezing and stuffy nose and she’ll never get rid of it. A complete blood count and X-rays all came back OK. Do you have any other ideas to help her? Has my vet given up?

A: It sounds like your cat has a recurrent herpes virus infection. Most kittens experience a viral upper respiratory infection at some point in their kittenhood. The main viral culprit is the rhinotracheitis virus, which is a herpes virus, a.k.a. herpesvirus. The kitten usually recovers, but the virus is not eliminated from the body. Herpes viruses, as most people know, have the frustrating characteristic of being able to stay in the body forever. Occasionally, the dormant virus can re-emerge later in life and cause clinical signs — sneezing, nasal and eye discharge, etc. — especially during times of stress.

Learn more on feline herpesvirus here >>

Antibiotics help defeat or prevent any secondary bacterial infections, and L-lysine helps the virus go back to being dormant more quickly. In most cats, the virus stays dormant for months or years and causes no problems at all. In other cats, especially those that are immunosuppressed (for example, cats with feline leukemia virus or the feline immunodeficiency virus), the virus can re-emerge at any time and cause clinical signs. Make sure your cat has been tested properly for FeLV and FIV. Cats that are prone to recurrent herpes virus infections may benefit from receiving L-lysine every day. As an amino acid, L-lysine would cause no harm if given every day.

See more reasons why cats sneeze here >>

Read more articles by Dr. Arnold Plotnick here >>

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Reader Comments

Hernandez Rueben    london, AE

6/25/2016 1:36:02 PM

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Bobby    International

6/18/2016 4:52:16 PM

Hello everyone out here, i want to share my testimony of this grate herbal doctor who cured me of herpes with his herbal remedy. i never really believe on herbal remedy,but i have been hearing and also seeing it on the internet but i don't even bother to read more of it. until one that i was browsing through the internet and i saw a comment make by someone on blog spot about (please pardon me to use this language) one so called grate herbal doctor that have the herbal remedy to all manner of STD. so i thought about it and i said to myself that i should give it a try but their was another thing that wanted to discourage me which was he was from Africa Nigeria precisely, he told me not to worry and trust him with my life that he is going to cure me permanently and their will be no side effect in future, i actually have a very good rethink of it and i said let go on with it. i have to send him the money for the material he will be needing to prepare the herbal remedy and he did it and send it to me through courier delivery service i got it and i used it the way he instruct me to after three weeks i went for test and i was confirmed herpes negative please everyone should help me thank Dr Oduku for saving my life..if anyone have any issue concerning STD do not hesitate to contact him via email odukuherbalremedies@gmail.com once again thank you very much Sir.

Luis    International

6/13/2016 7:44:12 PM

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moore    uk, AS

6/9/2016 2:56:43 AM

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