Just like people, cats actually can catch colds, and may display similar symptoms to people such as a runny nose and sneezing. Here, our vets tell you more about the causes and when to seek veterinary care for your cat.
How did my cat catch a cold?
Cat colds are contagious, just like human colds. That's why outdoor cats are more likely to find themselves with the cold virus than indoor cats. Outdoor cats more frequently interact with other cats.
Colds in cats are an upper respiratory infection (URI) caused by a virus or bacteria. Cat colds are not contagious for humans, but are easily transmitted between cats, especially in compact conditions. If you've recently boarded your cat and now they have a cold, chances are good that your pet was near another cat suffering from a cold.
To reduce the chances of increasing your pet's stress levels, and to help make it less likely that your cat will develop a URI choose a reputable boarding provider.
Signs & Symptoms of Cat Colds
Common signs of symptoms that our cat has a cold include runny nose, sneezing, sniffles, and watery eyes.
More sever symptoms include fever, coughing and reduced appetite.
Caring for Your Sick Cat
You can help your cat feel more comfortable if they have a cold by wiping their runny nose with a soft clean cloth, and clearing their runny eyes with a cloth and saline solution. You could also try running a humidifier so the air in your home is less dry.
If your cat is stuffed up it can make it a little difficult for them to breathe. To help your cat breathe more easily, try securing your cat in their pet carrier, put a bowl of hot water in front of the cage, then cover both the cage and bowl with a blanket for approximately 15 minutes.
In order for your cat to get better quicker it's important for your pet to continue eating and drinking. It's easier for cat's to swallow food that is slightly warm. So, warming your cat's food may help to make eating more appealing for them. It's also important to keep your cat warm while they have a cold, so place an extra blanket in their favorite area to curl up or in their bed.
Never give human cold medication (or any medication without the advice of your vet) to your cat. Speak with your vet to find out what they recommend for your pet.
When to Seek Veterinary Care
Cat colds are harmless in most cases and will usually go away within 1-2 weeks. Monitor your cat's health if you see signs of a cold, and if there's no improvement by the fourth day, make an appointment with your vet. A persisting cold that does not get treated properly could develop into pneumonia.
Much like with people, it's important to be careful with older cats, kittens, and cats with other conditions that may make them more susceptible to the effects of a cold. For cats that are nursing, or that haven't been vaccinated, this is especially true. If your cat falls into one of these categories, make an appointment immediately if you see signs of a cold.
If your cat begins coughing, has difficulty breathing, or stops eating, make an appointment to see a vet as soon as possible.