Upper respiratory infections (URIs) in cats are commonly referred to as cat colds, and produce symptoms similar to those of the human cold. If your kitty is sneezing, has a runny nose and watery eyes they may have a cat cold. Here, our Stockton vets explain more about cat colds and when it's time to call your vet.
Can cats get a cold?
Yes, cats can indeed catch colds and suffer from many of the same symptoms that we do when we have a cold. Sneezing and sniffles are typically the first signs that your cat has a cold, but how did your feline friend get a cold?
Cat colds, like human colds, are highly contagious. This means that outdoor cats are more likely to find themselves with the cold virus than indoor cats because they are more likely to interact with other felines.
These common upper respiratory infections (URI) can be caused by bacteria or a virus. And while they are not contagious to humans, they are very easily transmitted between cats, especially in crowded conditions. So if you've boarded your cat recently and they now have cold-like symptoms, it's likely your kitty was near another cat suffering from an upper respiratory infection.
Even the very best pet boarding facilities can have an outbreak but choosing a reputable boarding provider could help to reduce the chances of increasing your pet's stress levels, and will make it less likely for your cat to develop a URI.
What are the signs associated with cat colds?
If your cat is suffering from an upper respiratory infection you may notice that they are experiencing one or more of the following cat cold symptoms:
- watery eyes
- runny nose
- mild fever
- reduced appetite
What should I do if my cat has a cold?
It can be challenging to know what to do if your cat has a cold. You may want to try wiping their runny nose with a clean cloth or wipe runny eyes with a cloth and saline solution. You could also try running a humidifier so the air isn't too dry.
If your cat seems to be very stuffed up - making breathing a little difficult - secure them in their pet carrier, place a bowl of hot water in front of the cage, and cover both with a blanket for about 15 minutes.
To help your cat recover quickly it is important for them to continue eating and drinking normally. Food that is warmed up and easier to swallow might make this process more appealing for them. It's also a good idea to help them stay warm, so place an extra blanket in their bed or favorite area to curl up.
Never give your cat human cold medication (or any medication without the advice of your vet). Always speak with your veterinarian to find out what they recommend to help your kitty feel better.
How will I know if my cat needs to see a vet?
Cat colds are usually harmless and will go away within 1-2 weeks. However, you'll want to monitor your cat's health and make an appointment with your vet if you haven't seen an improvement in their condition within 4 days. A persistent cold that does not get treated properly could develop into pneumonia.
As with humans, it's important to be particularly careful with older cats, kittens, and cats with other conditions that may make them more susceptible to the effects of a cold. This is especially true of cats that are nursing, or that haven't been vaccinated. If your cat falls into one of these categories, make an appointment immediately.
If your cat begins coughing, has difficulty breathing, or stops eating, contact your vet right away to make an appointment.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.