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Hairball or Cold? [Aug. 25th, 2009|04:42 pm]
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cathealth

[dr_scholl]
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How do you tell the difference between trying to bring up a hairball and a cough due to a cold?

We got Tommy 12 days ago, and he came to us with fleas and a sneeze. Fleas have been taken care of...

We took him to the vet 8 days ago, and the vet said his lungs sounded clear despite the sneeze, and seemed very unworried about it. But in the last day or so he's starting to make this... noise. I know what it sounds like when our other cat is trying to bring up a hairball, but I can't tell with him yet - and he hasn't brought anything up yet either. Generally it's just one "cough" maybe two in a row, but not something that goes on for a little while. He's still sneezing a little too. Despite the sneezing and the potential cough, he's eating, drinking, pooping and has lots of energy - so he doesn't *seem* ill.

He's still mostly separated from our other cat, though we do put her in a room and let him roam for an hour at a time a couple of times a day - get him used to the house, and get her used to his smell around the house. They have also "interacted" through a screen door - but I put that in quotes because it was only last night that she finally came within about a foot of him (and there's still a lot of hissing and growling on her side - he just wants to make friends and show her his belly!)

So.... vet or wait and see? Right now, because he *was* just there last Monday, I'm going to see if either the cough gets worse, if he gets lethargic, or if he pukes something up.

But how can I tell what's causing this noise? Any ideas? Or do I just have to get to know him better and learn his "language"?

(If it makes any difference, if we didn't have the 2nd cat, I would definitely be waiting - I just don't want to have to pill two cats if he makes her sick...)
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[User Picture]From: froggumz
2009-08-25 08:57 pm (UTC)

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I would guess that it is a URI. Cats get them easily when they become stressed, which is why it is super common is shelter and rescue kitties, along with if you ever had to leave your cat somewhere.

Get some Lysine from your local store and crush it up. Sprinkle about a 1/4 teaspoon into some canned food and mix it up. This will help boost his immune system and hopefully he'll get over it quickly. If he gets really stuffy, then you'll need to take him into a vet.

Good luck!
[User Picture]From: dr_scholl
2009-08-25 09:07 pm (UTC)

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Thanks. I think he was getting Lysine at the Pet Store where he was being kept - he was only there a couple of days, but of course I worry that he caught something while there (or in the house he was fostered in before that - with 15 other cats!)

I'll give the Lysine a try. I work from home on Thursday, so if he's not getting any better, I'll call the vet then.
From: tiny_green_leaf
2009-08-25 09:43 pm (UTC)

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If his lungs sound clear, he has clear eyes, no discharges, no runny nose or gummed up eyes besides the normal, and only has the cough and hacking from the sounds of it, he MAY just have a kitty cold.

Mine went on a bought of this, passing it back from each other for two months, everything was normal, eating habits, energy, lungs, etc, except they hacked and coughed. I took the one in to get checked because she was so young and the vet said it was just probably a cold and that it was something that would have to pass with time.

I'm not saying that's what yours has, but if he seems to be healthy, alert, happy, etc, etc, give it a few days. If he's the only cat, he should get over it quickly, it's multiples where it gets passed back and forth.
[User Picture]From: dr_scholl
2009-08-26 02:30 pm (UTC)

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He does have a little sneeze, and there's some clear liquid that I don't know if it's from his nose or his mouth. Eyes are slightly runny, but no more than what I would consider "normal" for a cat.

For me, the fact that he can play and play and play and play and can we please play some more? makes me think he's feeling OK. ;)

So I'll continue the wait-and-see.
[User Picture]From: aeryn
2009-08-25 11:46 pm (UTC)

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It's so hard to tell a hairball noise from a cough or asthma noise.

I'm gonna bet that either way it's probably not serious. It could be related to a URI if he's sneezing, but if it's not bad I wouldn't worry. They are so so so common in shelters. If it's a hairball, it might work its way up eventually.
[User Picture]From: silaren
2009-08-26 12:00 am (UTC)

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Asthma usually has a bit of lung wheeze noise that the vet can hear. Trubbie's does (we're assuming it's asthma anyway). Fortunately hers is quite mild.
[User Picture]From: dr_scholl
2009-08-26 12:25 am (UTC)

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Yeah - Tommy's lungs sounded clear last Monday... I just wish I could understand what he's *saying* better. Mietze I understand... it's like a whole new cat-language to learn with him.
[User Picture]From: silaren
2009-08-26 01:05 am (UTC)

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Every cat is different! Although it's never entirely new, fortunately. It's more a matter of the insanely number of quirks. :-)
[User Picture]From: catsite
2009-08-26 12:11 pm (UTC)

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He could have Feline Asthma. I've read it's very difficult to diagnose and a lot of owners say they had miserable times going to vets offices only to be told their cat was "fine", when they would witness their cats coughing, choking, sneezing and vomiting mucus/foam. :/

Coughing can also be a symptom of heart disease/conditions. My cat has a congenital heart murmur and coughs frequently. My vet had told me "coughing isn't a symptom of heart conditions" but according to nearly everything else I've read on the web, and what the vet techs at the shelter told me, it most certainly is.
[User Picture]From: dr_scholl
2009-08-26 02:29 pm (UTC)

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They did listen to his heart and lungs last Monday, and it all seemed fine. And I've "run" him pretty hard yesterday and the coughing is not associated with exercise, so I don't *think* it's asthma or a heart condition.

He's actually coughing a little less since I posted this (no surprise, right?) but we're still keeping an eye on him for now...

Thanks for the suggestions!
[User Picture]From: catsite
2009-08-26 05:32 pm (UTC)

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Oh well that's good signs. :)

If he is hairball prone, a little something like Kittymalt or Petromalt can help in coughing fits. My cat is definitely hairball prone (medium hair Coon mix!) and a little Kittymalt each week definitely helps pass them through! No more hairball hacks!