This is not a money request, but I do, desperately, need the help of this wonderful community.
Our amazingly sweet and wonderful cat, Harley, suffers with bad respiratory allergies. This next picture may be a little hard to look at. I apologize.
You can clearly see her right eye is inflamed and swollen partly shut. Her left eye, while not as bad, is suffering too.
As context, Harley came to us literally off the street. A bit over a year ago, we saw her wandering around the neighborhood, hopping fences. We would croon and call to her, hoping she’d come say hello. She definitely paid attention to us, but always with wary caution and wide eyes. She would never approach, and would flee if we walked even slightly toward her.
We began taking cat treats on our walks, and if we saw this kitty, we’d distribute some treats near her and try to call her attention to them. One afternoon, she appeared in our back yard. She didn’t immediately retreat at our approach, but wouldn’t let us get too close. We settled for leaving some treats on our porch and going back in. The treats disappeared quickly — we assume she waited until we weren’t looking and ate them.
Around Thanksgiving holiday last year, the nights here became bitterly cold. We worried about all the strays and outdoors companion animals. One night, we saw this cat’s beautiful face right outside our back door. She sat there, meowing loudly and urgently. We went out to talk to her. She didn’t run this time, though she was still clearly worried and cautious. We gave her treats and water — she took both immediately and greedily this time. She wouldn’t come in the house, so we left more food, water, and a blanket outside to give her a shelter. Eventually (heartbroken that she wouldn’t come in), we went back inside. We kept checking to see if she’d come back, but she didn’t that night.
The next night, she appeared at the back door again. This time, very carefully, we coaxed her inside.
The story of her becoming accustomed to our home meanders and isn’t really relevant. It took her time to get used to living in a house, and to our other animals, but she did. She learned (or remembered) how to use a litter box quickly and easily, and she had a spay tattoo, indicating that she may have been abandoned (their loss — this is an amazing cat).
Harley is perhaps the most affectionate cat I’ve ever met. Part of her getting to know us, even before she chose to live in our house, was giving us face-nuzzles while we greeted and fed her on the back porch. I’ve never had another cat offer face-to-face nuzzles so quickly and eagerly. She had been afraid, but she also clearly yearned for companionship. We were, and remain, honored and grateful to give her a purrever home.
Harley came to use with medical issues. She would cough frequently, and her eyes would water and run, as shown above. Sometimes an eye would be so badly inflamed that she would keep it closed for a while.
Our veterinarian recommended a dietary Lysine supplement, which we still give her. We think it helps, but doesn’t alleviate all her symptoms. At least a few days of every month, one or both of her eyes will be badly inflamed. At least every day or two, we’ll hear her cough. The vet told us that this is unfortunately normal for cats who spent young years outdoors — they may have vulnerabilities to ENT infections and just allergic irritants. (We did have to give poor Harley a course of antibiotics and ophthalmic NSAID drops to fight off the infection she had when she came to us — thankfully, it abated in a week or two.)
It kills me, destroys me emotionally, to see the boundlessly sweet and loving fur person suffer with something I’m convinced is treatable. (We do try to keep the house clean and low-allergen, vacuuming weekly and running air purifiers in most rooms; plus we give the Lysine — it’s just still not enough.)
Someone in this wonderful community recommended an herbal aid for exactly this condition some time ago — I haven’t been able to find the reply, sadly. I think the recommendation was Umcka, but I’m not sure, and don’t want to mis-guess. I’ll try anything that has helped others.
Any help and suggestions are welcome — in fact, I beseech you all. Please, help me help my daughter.
Thanks in advance.
(If the PWB Peeps group could help elevate this for visibility, Harley and I would really appreciate it.)
Thanks for reading.
Edit — We’re overwhelmed and thankful for the community response. Several posters are suggesting air filters. As a note, we’re already using high-performance HEPA air filters in most of the house’s rooms due to my own damaged lungs. I also rotate food proteins for all three cats, changing away quickly if someone seems to react negatively (they’re all good with salmon and chicken, it seems). So, with thanks, please know I am already pursuing those steps. Thank you!
Edit2: More context. I took Harley to the vet shortly after she came to live with us. She had a fairly extensive workup; skin/fur, blood, and excreta. I was told she had nothing viral or communicable, and her eye issues were bacterial. We had her on steady doses of ophthalmic antibiotics and NSAIDs for 2-3 consecutive weeks; the vet advised us to use both if the issue re-surfaced, and we have. I’m careful not to use expired medication. I will be taking Harley back in for more veterinary evaluation and care suggestions.
Edit3: Several posters have suggested FHV as a cause. I didn’t specifically ask about FHV, but given the veterinary testing she received, I hope they’d have told me if it was a culprit. I will be asking again, however — thanks to all who surfaced this.
If I didn’t respond to your comment, apologies — gotta go have dinner. Thanks everyone!