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Franny Syufy

URIs in Cats

By October 29, 2013

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It seems we possibly have an epidemic of Upper Respiratory Tract Infections (aka URI) on our hands.

Photo of Kitten Sage at Veterinary Officephoto © Franny Syufy

We adopted little kittens Sage and Gaither from a rescue group on October 12th, and both are happy and active kittens. However, after a week had passed, we noticed that Sage was snuffling, and I took him to our local veterinarian on the 21st. His temperature was 103.5, a little high (normal is between 100.4F and 102.5F) His weight was six pounds, about normal for a six month old kitten. While we were there, I pointed out a patch of missing hair above his left eye. Our vet said the temperature could well be caused by the stress of the vet visit. She took a scraping of the skin above his eye to be tested for ringworm, and advised us that the lab test results could take as long as a month. As for the snuffling, she said the best thing was to just try to keep his nostrils clear with a paper towel or damp washcloth, as an antibiotic would be useless against a viral infection.

In the past two days we've noticed Jaspurr snuffling, and now Billy's eyes are watering. Billy goes to the vet tomorrow early afternoon, so I'll know more then. In the meantime, all the cats are still active, have good appetites, and are showing no other signs of being sick.


October 30, 2013 at 4:49 pm
(1) Sue says:

Most of our cats were adopted from the local feral colony due to severe URIs as kittens. We discovered giving powdered lysine in wet food to cats who were just starting to get sick, or in the wet food of the mothers of nursing kittens who were starting to get sick, usually nipped the infections in the bud. At least if they were due to feline herpes virus, anyway.

October 31, 2013 at 7:18 pm
(2) Gail says:

I got into the tnr biz on my daughter’s coattails, an I have become a total fan of lysine for the kittens. They are kind of like toddlers with the runny noses being passed around.

October 31, 2013 at 9:27 pm
(3) Franny Syufy says:

Sue and Gail, I’m looking into Lysine, but I’ve read a number of remarks about the brands which contain rosemary, which some experts consider harmful, although the ASPCA poison center negates that (somewhat).

October 31, 2013 at 11:12 pm
(4) DonnaB says:

I rescued Oscar when he was about 4-5 months old. He had a chronic URI and I had chose to administer Lysine with his food, though found it difficult to get him to eat the wet food. Smart kitty! My vet suggested the liquid form of Lysine that I purchase through a pharmacy the vet recommended. I never thought to ask if the prescription contained rosemary. Next time I call for a refill, I will.

November 1, 2013 at 4:22 pm
(5) RobinA says:

Hi Franny,
My 10 mo old kittens Bella and Layla were SPCA adoptees. They came from a litter of 30 kittens (3 diff moms!). All of them were treated at SPCA for upper respiratory virus which was continued by their foster mom Sara when she got them. When I adopted them, they were about 12 weeks old and over the virus….But 3 weeks later, Layla broke out in ringworm, omg! I’ve seen ringworm on people but never on an animal and it was nasty looking! Then, Bella got it. Well…for the next 3-4 months, these poor girls had to take Sporanox (1 week on, 1week off) and I had to keep my house as clean as possible with Clorox, fungicide, you name it. It kind of hurt our bonding process some as I had to isolate them from most of the rooms of the house, but I still continued to play with them and hold them. Turns out that local SPCA had had a major outbreak but didn’t tell anyone i think for fear no one would adopt the animals. I know from my vet that a couple of people took their adopted animals back as they couldn’t handle the healing/cleaning process and i couldn’t blame them. It was very stressfull!!! However, we pulled thru it and now they are completely healthy, thank god and so much fun :) For me, it was worth it – $, stress and all…. Hang in there. I love your site!!! :) hugs, Momcat RobinA and Bella and Layla =^..^=

November 2, 2013 at 3:57 am
(6) Shelby24019 says:

My vet carries a form of Lysine that comes in a pump bottle. I can just put some on their dishes and they will eat it. IIt has fish oil and tuna flavor for flavoring. The name on it is “Enisyl-F and the company must be Vetoquionl. I have used it for some time now and it works really well. I have one big black Tom that gets the sniffles once in a while and I will give it to him for 4 – 5 days and it really helps.

I am a big fan of Lysine myself.

November 5, 2013 at 7:01 am
(7) E says:


November 5, 2013 at 12:53 pm
(8) Franny Syufy says:

E, dear, we adopted two, but the photo is misleading. Both kittens are tuxedo cats and have prominent white bibs and feet. They are not siblings, and Sage is about six weeks older than Gaither.

They already act like brothers, though and are almost inseparable. Joey seems to like them, Jaspurr tolerates them, and Jenny and Billy are reserving judgement for now.

I’ll try to post photos on the forum sometime this week. I still need to get good enough head shots for my sig file.

November 5, 2013 at 1:00 pm
(9) Franny Syufy says:

RobinA, bless you for hanging in there with your babies despite the ringworm. It’s a nasty disease, and people can get it too.

My son and I fell in love with our two babes the minute we got them home. They are both so cuddly and affectionate, and even though they are from different litters, and different fosters, they bonded immediately. They are like brothers, and almost inseparable.

November 7, 2013 at 5:34 am
(10) E says:

Oh. *looks at little feeties more closely*

Too bad.


November 7, 2013 at 2:49 pm
(11) Janet says:

I know that there are documented problems with the unregulated supplement industry (thank you, Orrin Hatch!). However, that said, I just looked at the 1000mg tabs that I got from Spring Valley (one of the very common brands available at most pharmacies), and they contain nothing but Lysine, along with cellulose and some bonding agents. MUCH less expensive than getting it from the vet. I crack them in half, grind them up in the coffee grinder, and mix them in with my cat’s wet food. She still needs quarterly steroid injections, but the Lysine definitely helps keep the chronic herpes under control. BTW, Lysine is a good hedge against/treatment for human cold sores.

November 7, 2013 at 2:49 pm
(12) Shannon says:

I am a cat rescuer, and the URI we have seen this year has been epidemic and resistant. I’m a huge fan of lysine. It comes from the vet in gel form, you can buy it in pill form from Walgreens and crush it into wet food, and my personal favorite is the Pet Naturals lysine treats you can buy on Amazon. Most of the cats I pulled from one shelter in particular had it so bad that they had secondary bacterial infections and weren’t eating. Clavamox didn’t touch it, but azithromycin nipped it in the bud. Many had to be nebulized and force fed for one to two weeks. I also love B12 shots as an appetite stimulant. The neonatal rescue here in St. Louis actually gives B12 to every cat on intake regardless (it does so many good things for them).

November 7, 2013 at 4:30 pm
(13) Becky says:

Did I miss someone saying how much to give them? I didn’t see anything except for Janet saying she halves the 100 mg tablets. Can anybody tell me how much to use, and also how long or often to give it to them when symptoms show up?

Thanks! I love your column Franny and good luck with the new babies :-)


November 7, 2013 at 10:23 pm
(14) kerri says:

I actually have some foster kittens with URI’s and ringworm!!!

I am used to caring for the URI infections, it is common for kittens and cats that get stressed from a new environment to get mild URI’s. Little noses nasal spray helps with extreme nasal congestion. Just make sure if the third eyelid or eye begins to swell you get them checked right away. I use Lysine for all my cats, the powder form. Make sure it is an all natural formula. You can look on pet sites too. There are also cat chews. As for the ringworm, it does die off in a few months, just keep the house clean as much as possible and you can put coconut oil on the site for a natural way to prevent spreading of spores. At this point all my fosters were exposed so they are all together.
Last time I had this issue was 3 years ago and my whole house was exposed! 3 of my cats got it and so did my son and I. At that point I gave up….LOL…I just vacuumed frequently and wiped down the house but did not separate any of the cats at that point. I did go away on it’s own over time.

December 8, 2013 at 4:21 pm
(15) Dot says:

I am adopting a baby 8 wks from death row who was supposed to be euthanized four hours ago! She had conjunctivitis and URI which sounded rampant in the place where she still is right now. She is being treated.
I have a 10 yo feral I’ve had since 8 wks also. I never take her to the vet unless she is super sick as she is too stressed.

I’m wondering, do I need to get her in a hurry to the vet to get her vaccine or no? You folks sound like you know quite a bit on the subject. what’s your opinion?? Thanks!

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