Dear Christopher Cat
Tigger, my 6-week-old kitten, sneezes and has a thick, yellow discharge coming from her nose and eyes. What can I do for her?
It sounds like Tigger has an upper respiratory infection, also known as a URI or head cold.
URIs are common in young kittens and usually resolve with simple treatment.
Start by cleaning Tigger’s nose and eyes with a soft tissue dampened in warm water. It’s important to remove the pus from her nose so she can smell her food.
We cats won’t eat if we can’t inhale the aroma coming from our food, and it’s essential that Tigger continue eating. Warm her food if necessary to enhance its fragrance.
A vaporizer might help thin her mucous, making it easier for her to breathe. If you have one, let her spend some time with it each day.
URIs are caused by viruses and, often, bacteria as well. So antibiotics you drop into her eyes and give orally should help her fight the infection more easily.
Your veterinarian can examine Tigger and determine whether antibiotics are needed.
During the appointment, ask about testing for FeLV and FIV, the viruses that cause feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency, respectively. Both viruses suppress the immune system, making URI treatment more challenging.
After Tigger recovers, ask your veterinarian to vaccinate her to protect her from the germs that commonly cause URIs. Once vaccinated, she’s unlikely to have any further trouble with upper respiratory infections.