Posted By: Greg - Vet

Cat’s coughing and sneezing reveals unusual answer, twice

Cats can cough and sneeze fairly regularly without concern, but if these symptoms happen daily for over a week then a trip to the vets is warranted. In most cases infections such as cat flu can be to blame, but in Pickle’s case he got more than he bargained for after eating some grass.

Pickle is a young, and usually healthy cat, so when he wouldn't stop retching and coughing he was taken to the vets. Cats can show these symptoms most commonly because of hair balls, or even a  viral infection, but Pickle didn't respond to anti-inflammatories or laxative hair ball remedies. On his second visit he was treated with antibiotics in case of a bacterial infection. This time signs went away for a while, although never completely.

A month later, Pickle returned with the same problem, and it was getting him quite down. The next stage was to try and examine the back of his throat, and this would only be possible under a general anaesthetic. That day he was admitted to the practice and anaesthetised. At first nothing was obvious, but when a light was shone to the back of his throat, a subtle green stem was noticed sticking out from behind his soft palate. This was gently grasped with forceps and to everyone's surprise, a very long blade of grass was removed!

Pickle was woken up and the evidence shown to his owner. Presumably he had attempted to eat some grass but rather than the blade be swallowed down, it got caught and tangled at the back of his mouth. This is known as a ‘foreign body’ – when an object persists in the body that doesn't belong. They can be difficult or even impossible to be broken down and destroyed by the body and instead cause a constant source of infection and irritation.

He went home with some further antibiotic medicine, but although improved for a short time, symptoms seemed to come back. This time he was sneezing more and more, and when he breathed in Pickle made a strange, high pitched whistling noise. When Pickle started producing blood when he sneezed and seeming even more miserable, he was readmitted to the practice.

This time, his nostrils were examined closely under another general anaesthetic. Nothing could obviously be seen by shining a light through, but when small forceps were passed a few millimetres into his nose and a ‘blind’ grab was achieved with the pincers, another even longer blade of grass was retrieved. The back of his throat was checked and both nostrils were thoroughly flushed, resulting in a fair amount of green mucus.

This time when he was recovering, he appeared a lot brighter than before and was eating very well. The strange noises and sneezing completely disappeared instantly, and Pickle’s owner realised he was so much brighter than he had been for quite a few months. To this day, no symptoms have returned, so it seems that finally all the grass that he hadn't quite swallowed had eventually been removed.

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