Just like humans, cats can get a little under the weather and experience their own version of a cold. Here, our Killen veterinarians discuss cats and colds, if they can get them, the symptoms, and what to do.
How do cats catch colds?
If your cat is sniffling and sneezing they might have a cold and you might be curious how they caught it, and more importantly, how you can prevent it from happening again.
As colds in humans are contagious, so are cat colds. This puts outdoor cats at a higher risk of catching the cold virus than indoor cats because they are more likely to come into contact with other cats.
Cat colds are an upper respiratory infection (URI) caused by a virus or bacteria. It can't be transmitted to humans but it can easily spread among cats, especially in compact conditions. So if you have recently boarded your cat and they have developed a cold, odds are your pet was close to another cat that has a cold.
Selecting a boarding provider with a good reputation can help lower the chances of increasing your kitty's stress levels making it less likely for your cat to develop a URI.
Cat Colds: Signs & Symptoms
- runny nose
- watery eyes
- mild fever
More Severe Symptoms
- reduced appetite
What to do if Your Cat Has a Cold
If your kitty has caught a cold, you can help make them more comfortable by wiping their runny nose with a clean cloth, and runny eyes with a cloth and saline solution. You could also turn on a humidifier so the air isn't too dry.
If your cat appears to be stuffed up, making it a little hard for them to breathe, secure them in their pet carrier, put a bowl of hot water in front of the cage, and cover both with a blanket for about 15 minutes.
It's very important that your cat continues eating and drinking so they can recover faster. You might be able to make their food more appealing and easier for them to eat by warming it up. Your kitty also needs to stay warm, so place an extra blanket in their bed or favorite area to curl up.
Never give human cold medication (or any medication without the advice of your vet) to your cat. Always speak with your vet to see what they recommend for your pet.
When Should I Take My Cat to the Vet?
Most of the time, cat colds are harmless and will go away within 1-2 weeks. You do need to monitor their health, however, and if there is no sign of improvement by the fourth day, you should make an appointment with your vet as a persisting cold that does not get treated properly can lead to pneumonia.
As with humans, 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. 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.
In any case, if your cat begins coughing, has difficulty breathing, or stops eating, they need to see a vet as soon as possible.