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Should You Isolate A Cat With Uri? (Upper Respiratory Infection)

Every time one of your cats becomes ill, it crushes your heart a little bit. Worse even is when the disease is infectious and all of your furry companions have runny noses and sneezes.

Should a sick cat be isolated? With the exception of an upper respiratory infection, it is not usually essential to isolate a sick cat for every probable ailment (URI).

A feline URI is comparable to a human cold. Cats exposed to a large number of other cats are more susceptible to URIs, and inappropriate treatment might be lethal.

In certain instances, URIs progress to pneumonia. The best approach to avoid these life-threatening situations is to isolate a sick cat until it is no longer infectious to other cats in the home.

"Should You Isolate A Cat With URI? (Upper Respiratory Infection)" by BestForPets (bestforpets.org) will discuss this further below.

What Causes Upper Respiratory Infections in Felines?

Typically, a feline URI is caused by one or more bacterial or viral causes. Numerous agents might cause the infection, however the Feline Herpesvirus Type-1 is the most prevalent virus that causes an upper respiratory infection. Occasionally, this virus is also known as feline viral rhinotracheitis. Bordetella is the most prevalent bacterium that causes a URI. These two agents account for almost 90 percent of all URIs in cats.

What Are the Symptoms of an Upper Respiratory Infection?

URIs are comparable to the common cold. A majority of URI symptoms manifest in the nose and throat. Sick cats may exhibit sneezing, congestion, a runny nose, red eyes, mouth ulcers, fever, lethargy, and appetite loss.

The discharge from the nose and eyes may be transparent or opaque. The greater the severity of the ailment, the more difficult it is for the cat to breathe. In general, the majority of URI symptoms last between 7 and 10 days.

How Do Cats Get Upper Respiratory Infections?

Both the viruses and bacteria that cause an upper respiratory infection in cats are extremely infectious. Infected cats release infectious particles through their saliva or ocular secretions.

Cats can get the disease either via direct contact with an infected cat or through environmental exposure to materials that an infected cat has dealt with. These items may include water dishes, toys, beds, and litter bins.

Thankfully, neither the virus nor the bacterium can live in the environment for very long. They are readily eliminated with the use of disinfectants and home cleansers. They normally survive outside the host for fewer than 18 hours.

When to Take Your Sick Cat to the Veterinarian

Keep in mind that cats who are often exposed to other cats are more prone to get a URI. If you got a cat from a shelter, you should have them examined regardless of whether or not they are exhibiting symptoms.

Rest and good treatment are essential for restoring your cat to health. Numerous cats recover within a few weeks. Still, it is difficult to determine when to take them to the veterinarian. Here are some URI symptoms that indicate your cat requires veterinary care:

  • Not eating for twenty-four hours
  • Green or yellow nasal and ocular discharge
  • Difficulty in respiration
  • Depression or lack of responsiveness
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • One week of your at-home treatment has yielded little to no progress.

How Long Do Upper Respiratory Infections Last?

Once exposed to an infectious pathogen, cats have an incubation period ranging from 2 to 10 days. Most infections persist between 7 and 21 days, with an average of 7 to 10 days. Cats are infectious at all times during this period.

Herpes-infected cats are notably different. Some cats are chronic carriers and carry the illness for their whole lives. Stress typically reactivates the agent, although some people never experience symptoms again. Many herpesvirus carriers are symptom-free yet nonetheless pose a threat to other cats.

How Upper Respiratory Infections are Diagnosed and Treated

Typically, veterinarians obtain cell samples from your cat’s eyes, nose, or throat in order to identify the infectious agent. Occasionally, further testing such as x-rays and blood tests are necessary.

Cats with simple URIs are treated at home with antibacterial medicine prescribed by a veterinarian. They may also recommend that you steam your eyes for 10 minutes every day or provide eye drops. If your cat is dehydrated, they may require hospitalization until their fluid levels return to normal.

How Long to Isolate a Sick Cat?

Isolate cats diagnosed with a URI throughout their incubation period, or around three weeks following the onset of symptoms. Most cats are immune to URIs due to vaccination, but young, unvaccinated kittens are the most susceptible.

If your cat has contracted an upper respiratory infection (URI) from the herpes virus, ensure that all other cats in the home are vaccinated before allowing them to socialize again.

Final Thoughts

All living things are sadly but inevitably exposed to illness. Even though most URIs are not dangerous, you should nevertheless keep a careful check on your pets and observe their behavior.

Any pet owner’s worst nightmare is a home full of ill animals. Generally, it’s safer to isolate a sick cat, but you should take them to the doctor to confirm that they have an upper respiratory infection (URI) and no more severe infections.

Should You Isolate A Cat With URI? (Upper Respiratory Infection)” by BestForPets (bestforpets.org) hopefully has clarified helpful information about Upper Respiratory Infections in Felines and what you can do to make your sick buddy more comfortable.

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Dr. Deborah Fletcher

Deborah R. Fletcher, DVM, is a skilled veterinarian with more than 15 years of experience dealing with companion and exotic animals. She has experience caring for a variety of animals, including household cats and dogs, reptiles, birds of prey, and even primates. Dr. Fletcher is a valuable part of the BestForPets team, where she contributes to their aim of providing pets and their owners with the finest possible treatment and services.

Veterinarian (DVM) Dr. Deborah Fletcher


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