Mr. Wheezy Cat
February 19, 2015 5:35 PM   Subscribe

Lord Conrad Blackcat (8 or 9) has a very, very loud wheeze, which started last November. It's sort of disturbing to hear.

He has already been to the vet, where we determined that he wheezes only when breathing in. He is slightly overweight but has lost some weight recently. He wheezes only when relaxing, never while standing up. He is eating and drinking normally, as active as he always is, and uses the litter box normally.

He has some icky persistent eye infection which he has had ever since he was a shelter kitten.

After the last vet visit, we put him on a banana-scented liquid antibiotic (I forget the name). I don't know if he wheezed less for the week because he refused to sleep near me that week, but by a few days later he was wheezing again. (He was also given a dewormer because Lucy puked up a worm.)

The vet said that if he is eating/playing/etc normally, I don't need to bring him back in, and that it could be something about fat and relaxed muscles the details of which I have forgotten. Which would be great, but I'd just like a second opinion because I don't care to have my cat die of some lung infection that I could have treated.
posted by jeather to Pets & Animals (10 answers total)
I'm sure this is something a good vet would consider, but did they check for asthma? I have an asthmatic cat. Her symptoms are rapid breathing (when it gets really bad), along with occasional wheezing when it's not really all that bad.
posted by mudpuppie at 6:04 PM on February 19, 2015

(Oh -- and they diagnosed the asthma by looking at an x-ray. Her airways were, um, I don't remember what they were. But the constriction, whatever it was, was visible on the film.)
posted by mudpuppie at 6:05 PM on February 19, 2015

Because he only wheezes on inhalation, the vet thought it was unlikely to be asthma. (The antibiotic was for an apparently non-existent upper respiratory infection.)
posted by jeather at 6:07 PM on February 19, 2015

Our cat has had chronic lung issues since we got her, about a year ago. She's black too, with green eyes - looks a lot like Lord Conrad Blackcat. Our understanding is that this is related to feline herpes, and presents as a "kitty cold" with watery eyes, sneezing, and coughing. She has all three symptoms on a daily basis. We give her an L-Lysine treat twice a day, which I'm not convinced does much, but per the vet, it can't hurt. We've taken her to a respiratory cat specialist (yes, there is such a thing - who knew?) and were told that we could give her some kind of nose drops if she came down with it again in the future. We didn't take it that far because she hasn't had a fever or major symptoms (lethargic, decreased appetite) in quite some time. If she did we'd take her in a heartbeat. You may have a specialist in your area who can give you more information than a generalist. It's not cheap, but totally worth it for peace of mind and seeing what other treatments are out there.

OTOH, we've seen 3 vets and 2/3 have told us that it's "just a thing" and "we had a run of bad luck." At the time, she had 3 infections in 4 months when we first got her from the shelter. So, I think the jury may be out on whether the nose drops or other medication (begins with a D, can't remember at the moment) would work. We got the impression that it was an immune issue, which makes sense because she gets worse when she's stressed. Waiting it out calmly (and not running our vacuum cleaner as much) seemed to really help her.

Little Miss hates the vacuum.

Good luck!
posted by onecircleaday at 6:10 PM on February 19, 2015

What cat litter do you use? If it's scented, that may be causing your cat's wheezing because it's like an allergic reaction.

I also had a cat who reacted badly to Shake n Vac (do they even make that anymore?) -- it made her eyes sticky and she was a bit wheezy -- and my vet told me not to stop using it. Ditto Febreeze.
posted by vickyverky at 6:40 PM on February 19, 2015 [3 favorites]

Here's my understanding, gained from various cat rescuers, vet techs, and the occasional vet: kittens in shelters often get feline herpes virus, which manifests in watery/swollen eye areas, drippy noses, sneezing, etc. This herpes virus can be treated and the symptoms go away, but it's always going to be present in the cat and will reemerge in times of stress. Since it's a virus, antibiotics won't cure it (but they can prevent secondary infections from occurring).

L-Lysine seems to help with this condition. I'm not big on alternative medicine or supplements, but it's an easy-to-get supplement (you can get capsules from the human supplements/vitamins section of most grocery stores) and easy to administer (open a capsule and mix the powder in with some food - check the net for dosage, but I think it's one normal-sized capsule per adult cat per day).

Also - I have administered it to kittens with seeming success, and I've been told that scientific trials have confirmed L-Lysine's efficacy in cats (but I don't have links to the trials, sorry).

People who adopt kittens which have had herpes virus are sometimes advised to give them L-Lysine before and during stressful transitions, or whenever the virus symptoms occur.
posted by amtho at 6:42 PM on February 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

I've had my 11 year old cat for four years now. She started wheezing a few weeks after we got her. After over a thousand dollars in cancer scares, diagnostic tests, antibiotics, inhalers, diuretics and lysine too nothing changed, which really isn't a problem because she continues to eat, drink, play and cuddle all the same.
posted by waterandrock at 6:48 PM on February 19, 2015

My Maine Coon has always wheezed. I spent gawd knows how much money as a young cat with tests for pretty much everything. Conclusion: some cats just wheeze-- something about the structure of his nose. He does it much more when he's overweight and only when he's really relaxed. (He's now 14, and still wheezes...)

If you're really worried and want a second opinion, you can do what I did and go the full testing route. I ended up taking him to a University vet center to a cat heart/lung specialist. He was not entertained, and I was considerably poorer, but it did do a lot for my peace of mind when I heard him breathe. :(
posted by frumiousb at 1:25 AM on February 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

Conrad never sneezes or coughs or tears up or squints or has any eye inflammation -- his symptoms are a mucousy left eye (only left, it never gets any better and it never gets any worse, and it never infects the other cats he has lived with, even one who was on steroids) and this recent wheeze. There has been no change in food or litter recently.

I'll try the l-lysine and just continue to monitor his symptoms and bring him back to the vet if anything changes. This is reassuring and it agrees with what the vet says, thanks.
posted by jeather at 7:12 AM on February 20, 2015

Make sure you are using a low-dust, unscented litter. Cats can develop new allergies/sensitivities over time just like people can, so even if you haven't changed the litter type recently it might still be that.

Precious Cat brand litter is good, and they offer two types of low-dust litters.
posted by Jacqueline at 10:49 AM on February 21, 2015

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