Upper respiratory infections are common in kittens and rare in most adult cats. Common infectious organisms include the Bordetella bacterium, feline herpes virus (viral rhinotracheitis), feline calicivirus, mycoplasma, and Chlamydia psittaci.
Infection occurs as a result of contact with the organism, which is present in nasal, eye, and salivary secretions from infected or diseased cats. Common clinical signs include discharge from the eyes and nose. The discharge is usually clear and then becomes thicker and yellow or green as secondary infections occur. Most kittens and cats recover from their infections. Kittens infected with herpes virus become chronically infected and may continue to spread the virus throughout life. These kittens may become cats that are chronically diseased and suffer from respiratory infections, because the infection cannot be cured.
Principal Natural Treatments
Nosodes, a special type of homeopathic remedy, are prepared from infectious organisms such as distemper virus and Staphylococcus bacteria. Remember that no matter what the source of the remedy; the actual ingredients are diluted in preparing the remedy. No measurable amount of the original source for the remedy remains, only the vital energy or life force, which imparts healing properties to the remedy. No harm will come to your pet regardless of the toxicity of the original compound used in the preparation of the remedy.
But do nosodes work? Some doctors seem to prefer nosodes manufactured by specific homeopathic pharmacies, as they feel there is a definite difference in the ability of nosodes to stimulate the immune system. In their opinions, the manufacturer of the nosode is important and some vaccination nosodes work better than others.
To prevent disease, nosodes are supposed to work in the same manner as conventional vaccines, namely by stimulating antibodies to fight off infections. Nosodes have been reported to control outbreaks of infectious disease in animals in a kennel situation. While good controlled studies are lacking, homeopathic veterinarians have reported success in some patients when treating infectious disease with the homeopathic nosode.
Other Natural Treatments
Complementary therapies are used to boost the immune system and keep the eyes clear of discharge. The include a natural diet, antioxidants, immune-boosting herbs like: alfalfa, aloe vera, astragalus, burdock, dandelion leaf, dandelion root, echinacea, garlic, ginseng, goldenseal, hawthorn, licorice, marshmallow, milk thistle, nettle, red clover, St. John’s wort, turmeric, and yellowdock. Herbs for infections include: aloe vera, astragalus, boswellia, echinacea, garlic, topical German chamomile, ginger, goldenseal (topical), gotu kola, horsetail, licorice, marshmallow, Oregon grape, sage, St John’s wort, turmeric, yarrow and mushrooms (reishi, shitake, cordyceps, and maitake).
These can be used in conjunction with conventional therapies as needed. The natural treatments are widely used with variable success but have not all been thoroughly investigated and proven at this time.
As with any condition, the most healthful natural diet will improve the pet’s overall health.
Antiviral medications may be prescribed in severe cases. Usually, oral antibiotics are used (to treat secondary infections or primary Bordetella, Mycoplasma, or Chlamydia infections) as well as medicated eye drops. Most kittens recover within one to two weeks.
Feline Upper Respiratory Tract Infections
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Shawn Messonnier, DVM
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Shawn Messonnier DVM Past Supporting Member, Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians Author, the award-winning The Natural Health Bible for Dogs & Cats, The Natural Vet’s Guide to Preventing and Treating Cancer in Dogs, and Breast Choices for the Best Chances: Your Breasts, Your Life, and How YOU Can Win The Battle!
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