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This condition most commonly occurs secondary to a
prior Upper Respiratory Tract Infection. The most common
causes of infection in these cases are the Cat ‘Flu’ viruses
(Herpes or Calicivirus) or Chlamydia. This infection causes
damage to the tissue (mucosa) and cartilage inside
Unfortunately, this damage inside
the nose is often permanent and means your cat has a chance
of always having some degree of ‘snuffliness’.
What do we do now?
When a cat presents with a history
of snuffles, we like to take swabs to see if we can
establish the initial cause or what’s causing the problem
now. If the initial cause was a viral infection some years prior,
we may not be able to find a specific answer.
It’s important to try to find out if there is a
current problem like a fungal infection or even
For the initial cause, we swab
around the eyes. This tests to find the DNA of the respiratory
viruses and Chlamydia (as mentioned above). These tests are very
specific but can still miss the original cause if the disease
course has been long.
We sometimes also swab the nasal
cavity. This helps find specific causes such as fungal
infections. We often find bacterial infections but they are
usually secondary to both the original infection and the damage
that has been caused inside the nose.
there any other tests?
We can also radiograph your
cat’s nasal cavity. This most often tells us the degree of
damage that has already been sustained and how congested ‘Puss’ is
but can also give us some indication if there is another disease
process (such as fungal infection). A nasal flush can be
performed at the same time to help tell what the problem is.
Other possibilities are
‘rhinoscopy’ (an optic fibrescope to explore to nasal cavity) or
‘reverse endoscopy’ (looking at where the nose ends and the
pharynx begins from the mouth). This involves very specialised
equipment and so involves a referral.
we treat Chronic Snufflers?
Yes, but in most cases treatment is unlikely to give a
long-term cure. In most cases the clinical signs can
merely be controlled, since the chronically damaged bones
cannot be repaired.
can be given to reduce secondary bacterial infection. It is
usually necessary to give them for long periods or
as repeated courses in order to control the clinical
signs. Other treatments that can be considered include
drugs to reduce the thickness of the nasal secretions
(mucolytics or decongestants).
Usually, we can manage quite reasonable control (ie occasional
sneezes) however your cat is always at risk of recurrences.
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