Hayden, our three-month-old foster kitten, has an upper respiratory infection. You know the stuffed up, can’t breathe out of your nostrils feeling? It’s particularly problematic for kittens as their little sinuses clog easily and it compromises their sense of smell. Unlike humans who eat with their eyes and noses, felines only eat with their noses. So if they can’t smell the food, they don’t eat. If they don’t eat they get dehydrated, which exacerbates the stuffy sinuses. What breaks this cycle according to the vet? Very stinky, fishy cat food that’s easy for them to smell even when congested and being held next to a steamy shower. The humidity of a hot shower helps her sinuses drain. So the drill in our household has been that whoever takes a shower is instructed to take little Hayden in the bathroom with them so she can have as much time in a steamy environment as possible.
Although we have a whole house humidifier that is enough for humans Hayden’s little sinuses dry out around 5am each day when no one has showered for awhile. She finds me and is restless and frustrated that she’s so stuffed up. She can’t sleep and is the kitten version of a cranky, croupy baby, restless and annoyed at her predicament. So I get up, start the shower and stand with her in my arms at the entry to our shower for about 10 minutes. Slowly her sinuses drain and the expressions on her face changes, amazed that she suddenly feels so much better. She can breathe more easily and her soft little body melts into mine in a deep full-body purr. She rubs her tiny face all over my bathrobe collar, marking me with her scent in appreciation. And then she sleeps.