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Welcome Home! Your New Shelter Cat Now Has the Kitty Flu

Upper respiratory disease in cats

Upper respiratory disease in cats:  inevitable in shelter cats?

You finally found your new cute, little furry soulmate at your local animal shelter or rescue organization.  All the necessary preparations have been made:  cat bed, litter box, litter, toys, cat food, cat treats, scratching post, kitty condo… Your heart is exploding with love and happiness as you welcome your new bundle of joy home, anticipating all those wonderful bonding moments of playtime and endless cuddling.  And then it happens….Achoo! 

One sneeze quickly turns in to multiple, her eyes and nose start to run, her nose becomes stuffed up, she starts running fever, and all she wants to do is sleep.  She is becoming more miserable by the day, and her appetite may be decreased or gone, too.  How could this happen?  Why is your cat sick when she seemed fine at the shelter? 

This scenario happens all the time, and pet parents who adopt from shelters should be advised ahead of time that this will probably happen.  It can also happen when you get kittens or cats from large catteries, too.  This has happened to me several times over the years after adopting cats. 

Why does this happen?

When large amounts of cats are kept together it’s very easy to develop and pass around upper respiratory viruses.  They’re in a stressful environment, space is limited, cats may groom or hiss at each other, and the stress of it call can quickly weaken a cat’s immune system. 

Kittens who haven’t had their first series of shots, elderly cats and pregnant cats are most susceptible, and highly infective viruses can spread easily through eye, nose and mouth secretions.  Therefore, when one kitty gets sick it’s just a matter of time before others will, too. 

Diagnosis:  kitty flu & feline upper respiratory infections

Homeopathy and natural medicine can help cats with upper respiratory disease


My friend, Nicole, recently adopted a couple of new kittens, Bruno and Mabel, from the Houston SPCA, and Bruno got sick shortly after.  She came to me seeking advice.  She’d already taken him to the vet who told her there’s nothing they can really do because he was diagnosed with FHV-1, feline herpes virus.  If secondary infections develop they would treat those with antibiotics and other meds, but until then she’d have to wait it out.

According to Dr. Karen Becker, DVM,

There are several different bacteria and viruses that cause upper respiratory disease complex in felines.  The two most often implicated are feline herpes 1, also known as rhinotracheitis, and calcivirus.

Other causes can be an infection with bordetella, mycoplasma, reovirus, chlamydia or pasteurella. These diseases can also develop as secondary infections to a primary infection with rhinotracheitis or calcivirus. 

Feline upper respiratory viruses are typically diagnosed by your veterinarian with a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test.  It’s very important to determine which virus is present, because symptoms of other serious illnesses like heart disease, asthma and certain fungal infections can mimic those of an upper respiratory infection.

Empower yourself!  Natural remedies can helpNatural remedies can treat upper respiratory disease in cats

No pet parent likes to feel helpless when it comes to their pets.  We hate to see our babies sick and suffering!  It can take anywhere from one to four weeks for a virus to shed, so here are a few things you can do in the meantime.


Have some homeopathic remedies on hand:  Aconite 30c can be given at the onset of any symptoms every half hour for three hours.  Gelsemium 30C is indicated for most “flu” symptoms.  Other remedies that may be indicated are Ferrum Phos 6C, Phos Acid 30C, and Cinchona 30C particularly with dehydration.  How do you determine which is the best for your cat?  Muscle testing!  This will also help you determine dosage protocols. 

Get a vaporizer

Have a vaporizer on hand.  If your cat is so congested that it can’t smell chances are good that she won’t want to eat.  This can lead to a life threatening condition called hepatic lipidosis.  Put your cat in a small, enclosed space like a bathroom, and turn on the vaporizer.  This is a great tool to help break up congested airways and mucus and help your cat breathe easier.

Colloidal Silver

Keep some high quality colloidal silver on hand.  You can find some great brands at Whole Foods or even a natural health clinic or store.  Colloidal silver is a great immune builder and works well for conditions that may call for treating infections.  It tastes like water and is safe to use with cats.  I use a syringe (without the needle!) to administer liquid meds like this.  Usually 1/4-1/2 ml a couple times a day (muscle test for accuracy!) for a few days can help build the cat’s immune response. 

Baby food and raw goat’s milk

Keep some Gerber baby food meat on hand in case your cat loses interest in her cat food.  More often than not they will eat the baby food, and I like to use it to mix in meds or supplements, too.  You can also try using raw, grass-fed goat’s milk with a syringe to get some nourishment down until her appetite returns.


Get a high quality probiotic for pets.  The healthier their gut, the stronger their immune system!  Cats can benefit from a daily dose of probiotics mixed into their food, not just when they’re sick.  The best probiotics are the ones with the highest numbers of strains of bacteria.  There are lots of good ones out there, but I’m currently using Complete Probiotics for Pets from

Other products that may prove helpful

Dr. Becker also regularly uses “homeopathic nosodes, immune-boosting medicinal mushrooms and herbs, including olive leaf, Cat’s Claw, Pau D’arco and turmeric, as well as lysine to treat upper respiratory diseases in cats and shorten the duration of these infections.”

Help for BrunoHomeopathy can treat cats with upper respiratory disease

For Bruno’s case I was able to muscle test to determine the best way to help him shorten the duration of the virus.  He needed a remedy of Gelsemium 30C dissolved in purified water, 1/4 ml four times a day for two days; a 1/4 ml of colloidal silver twice a day for two days; and a probiotic added to his food.  And lots of TLC from his family as he recuperated, which I’m sure was the best part!

Eventually our cats do heal, it just takes time.  We can give them an extra edge by giving them the tools that best benefit their bodies to bring about healing.





14 responses to “Welcome Home! Your New Shelter Cat Now Has the Kitty Flu”

  1. Mark Jessup says:

    How do I muscle test my cat?

    • Pam Roussell says:

      Mark, check out this page on muscle testing:
      You can also find some videos on YouTube that demonstrate it, too. If you can find a holistic practitioner where you live sometimes they also teach classes on muscle testing.

      • Mark Jessup says:

        How much soverign colloidal silver is appropriate for my kitty that sneezes and coughs intermittently. She has had a convenia injection back in May and about 2 weeks ago went through a 10 day course of clavomax drops. Thank you for your kind reply!!

        • Pam Roussell says:

          Rather than just guess it would be more effective to muscle test and get it exact. You can send me her photo: Was she diagnosed with a bacterial infection or could it be viral? Do you know the cause of her sneezing and coughing? It may benefit to have me do a cat health analysis in order to determine the cause and the best course of action.

  2. Trisha Jordan says:

    I recently purchased some silver for my cats who have been having an URI. Not sure the real cause. The vet assumes it is herpes. I am not sure. So because I have 8 cats I use in the water dish. Unless I see signs of secondary infection like colored mucus. then I dose in that cats mouth. Problem is it’s a good quality silver. $265.00 a gallon. This bottle turned their water a little yellow. This was concerning. Only after a couple hours did I see this happen. Then I noticed the cats walking away from the water with this new bottle. Tried to get an answer from the seller about what could be wrong. They refunded my money? No answers. I wrote again. Waiting… I drank a shot glass and had no issues… But a cat might be more sensitive. Do you know any reason this would happen with the silver turning water yellow after 2 hours? I don’t know if lysine has a taste in water.. I have lots of oils and supplements. But don’t know what is safe for cats. The silver had really worked great. I have to order more but am hesitant since I was refunded with no explanation.

    • Pam Roussell says:

      I applaud your decision to try a natural approach! $265/gallon seems extremely pricey though, and I’m glad they refunded you. Rather than putting it in their water a more specific and direct approach would be to dose them individually after muscle testing to see if it’s beneficial and needed. I use a syringe. You can even add it to their wet food. Brands like Sovereign Silver and Dr. Rima’s Super Silver are the ones I’ve used successfully. Normally a protocol lasts for up to 10 days only.

    • Pam says:

      Hi, Trisha: I have 11 cats, and some are 17-19 years old. I researched for days about colloidal silver….which one was best. It was a nightmare, but I finally got through it. I found out that colloidal silver is CLEAR, not brownish or yellow, etc. It cured my cat’s gum cancer, eye discharge of pus and blood that was draining from the cancer, and other problems. My vet was absolutely shocked. He had told me my cat would be dead in three weeks. This is the fifth month!! HolisticPetCare in Oregon is where I finally learned about the C.S. The holistic naturopath will explain everything to you. I really like her. Hope this helps!

      • Joy Emmanuel says:

        Pam, Please what brand of colloidal silver di you use? The actual brand that gave you these results. I help stray cats and I would appreciate it.

        • Pam Roussell says:

          Joy, I use a couple of brands: Sovereign Silver and Dr. Rima’s The Silver Solution. Any high quality colloidal silver would be fine.

          • Annie says:

            How much did you give in doses daily to your cat? I have a 16 yo male cat with a terrible sinus infection (clear yellow and dark yellow depending on the day). Has healthy appetite and seems happy and cuddly otherwise.

          • Pam Roussell says:

            Annie, typically its something like 3 ml twice a day for 7 days followed by 1 ml twice a day for 3 days. Muscle testing is the sure fire way to determine the exact protocol. In addition to CS your kitty may benefit from some homeopathy that matches his symptoms the best. Muscle testing can also help determine which one his body needs. Let me know if I can help you further.

      • Joy Emmanuel says:

        Hello Pam
        Please I tried to google holistic pet care but didn’t get it. Can you give the exact name please

    • douglas says: they sell high quality colloidal silver for a great price. its called silver bullet. like the article said just give each animal about .50 ml(half a dropper) daily avg split in two dosses … god speed.

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