Pet insurance companies call it a pre-existing condition. I call it an upper respiratory infection.

Pet Assure is a low-cost pet insurance alternative that covers every medical service - even pre-existing conditions! Learn why more than 100,000 pet households have chosen Pet Assure.
Cat Insurance

Feline Upper Respiratory Infection


Feline upper respiratory infection is a very common viral infection, caused most commonly by calicivirus or herpesvirus. It is compared to the human common cold, and usually lasts for about a week. The viruses are spread through moist contact, like sneezes, infected discharges or sharing dishes.

These viruses are recurring, sometimes over a cat's entire life. Herpesvirus usually recurs about a week after a stressful incident (like a new pet in the house, boarding, surgery).

Susceptible cats include:

  • Shelter cats
  • Outdoor cats
  • Kittens (because their immune system is not strong)


The following symptoms indicate a mild infection, just like a human cold:

  • Sneezing and coughing
  • Discharge from the nose, mouth or eyes
  • Ulcers in the nose, mouth or eyes
  • Hoarse voice

If the infection becomes more serious, you will notice the following symptoms:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty breathing with an open mouth
  • High fever and lethargy

In kittens, these viruses can lead to pneumonia or arthritis. Call your vet immediately.


Your vet may be able to diagnose your cat with a simple physical exam.

Additional tests may include:

  • PCR testing: a simple throat swab which is an extremely sensitive test for viruses in your cat's DNA
  • Immunofluorescence: uses a fluorescent dye to illuminate viruses or their antibodies in body tissue
  • Radiographs: may show inflammation or infection of the lungs, indicating pneumonia


  • Hospitalization: your cat will be boarded in a cage with proper humidity and oxygen to help breathing
  • IV fluids for dehydration
  • Anti-bacterial medication: This does not help against the actual virus, but will prevent and treat any secondary bacterial infections that can result from the virus
  • Oral medications for ulcers
  • Eye ointments
  • Nose drops for congestion
  • Vaccines


  • Follow the vaccine schedule recommended by your vet
  • Only allow vaccinated cats in your house
  • Separate infected cats from other cats
  • Wash your hands after handling the infected cat, because contaminated hands can spread the disease to other cats
  • Maintain a stress-free environment to prevent recurrence


Your cat may need to be hospitalized to safely survive the symptoms, but there is a very good prognosis. Death in adult cats is unusual; serious illness and death in young kittens is more common.

Among pet health plans, Pet Assure is the best value pet plan for your cat. It is the best pet insurance alternative and available for any type of pet. Pet Assure covers every medical condition, including upper respiratory infection, ear infections, skin allergies, skin infections, gastritis (vomiting), enteritis / diarrhea, arthritis, bladder infections, tumors and hypothyroidism. We're the cheap pet insurance alternative that covers every medical service, including routine visits, dental work, x-rays, laboratory work, vaccines, cremation, spay & neuter, hospitalization and emergency services. Compare pet insurance to us; whether you are looking for dog insurance or cat insurance, insurance for your pet is costly. Choose Pet Assure, the pet discount plan that more than pays for itself.
Does your employer offer the Pet Assure Veterinary Discount Plan? Click here