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Feline Upper Respiratory Infection


Hi there! We are sorry you are here but happy to help. Upper respiratory infection in cats (URIs) are relatively common. They can lead to complications such as corneal ulcers, pain, obstructed nostrils, and make your cat feel downright crummy. There are several things you can do at home, but some cats will need additional treatment. Here’s how you can help.

What’s going on with your pet?

Here are some signs that you should be paying close attention or seeking advice:

Squinting of one or both eyes

Crusting of the eyes and/or nose

Discharge or goop coming from the eyes and/or nose

Redness of the eyes


Nasal congestion 

Ulcers or spots in the mouth

Signs of severe infection include:

Not eating

A sudden change to the character of the discharge

Increase respiratory rate

Difficulty breathing

Start looking for other signs of distress. Is your cat also breathing differently than normal? Are they panting? Panting in cats is not normal and typically indicates a major problem or extreme stress.

Check a respiratory rate. Watch your cat breathing at rest. Set a timer for a minute and count how many times you see their chest move up and down. If you count more than 40 that is not normal.

Are there any other signs that they are not themselves? Have they stopped eating? Are they lethargic? If they are off in more ways than one it can mean that their health is more seriously impaired.


Here’s what you can do...


  • Crusting of the eyes/nose can be painful and lead to a decreased sense of smell and appetite. You can gently cleanse the eyes and nose with a moist, soft cloth 2-3 times a day or as needed to remove crusting and discharge.

  • It can help to humidify the air to break up discharge and provide comfort. You can use a humidifier near where your cat normally sleeps if they sleep in one place. You can also run a hot shower and place your cat in the closed bathroom for 10-15 minutes twice a day. We recommend sitting with them to ensure they don’t get themselves in trouble in the bathroom!

  • Offer really smelly food. They may not be able to smell as well right now and they need to eat to keep fighting the infection. The smellier the food, the more likely they will think it’s tasty.

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Does your pet need Urgent Care?

Yes. Most cases can be treated at home symptomatically. However, there are some things that you will want a veterinarian to look at and many treatments that can help resolve the episode faster that only a veterinarian can prescribe.

What can you expect from your visit?

Cats can get stressed going into a new environment, this may cause them to breathe more rapidly Scout team has any concerns that your cat is in trouble, they will do a quick (STAT) assessment to ensure they are safe.

Your Scout veterinarian may recommend:

  • Corneal staining: Ulcers are a complication of URIs in cats. These can be painful and may not be noticeable to the naked eye.

  • PCR testing: Your Scout veterinarian may recommend taking a swab to look for a number of common respiratory infections in cats. These tests can take several business days to get back from the lab.

  • Treatments: Your Scout veterinarian wants your pet to feel better just as much as you do! They may prescribe topical eye medications, an appetite stimulant, oral antibiotics if there is concern for a bacterial infection, and/or pain medications.

  • Follow up appointments: As long as your cat is getting better every day, there is not likely to be a follow up appointment scheduled. However, if you have concerns that they are not progressing as they should, Scout is here for you!

  • Quarantine: It’s a bummer but most feline URIs are infectious to other cats. If you have a multi-cat household, your Scout veterinarian may recommend that you keep housemates separate until all symptoms have subsided for at least a week. It is generally alwaysa good ideakeep new cats separate for 1-2 weeks before fully introducing them. Many URIs will be contagious even before a cat is showing signs of disease.

Remember that you are the best advocate for your pet. If you think it’s a problem, it probably is! We are here for you in your time of need.

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2369 N Lincoln Ave Chicago, IL 60614


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Questions? Call us: 773-676-8166