Cats can catch colds just like people, displaying similar symptoms such as sneezing and a runny nose. Here, our St. Louis vets talk about causes and when to seek veterinary care.
How does a cat cold happen?
Your cat may be sniffling and sneezing leading you to wonder 'Can cats get a cold?', and the answer is yes. But how do you protect them from falling ill?
Just like a cold that you or I would experience, cat colds are 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 cats.
Cat colds are an upper respiratory infection (URI) caused by bacteria or a virus. It is not contagious for humans but easily transmits between cats, especially in compact conditions. So if you've boarded your cat recently and they now has a cold, it's likely your pet was near another cat suffering from a cold.
You can help to prevent cat colds by ensuring that you only board with a licensed and reputable facility.
Does my cat have allergies or a cold?
One of the easiest ways to tell if it is a cold or allergy is by the symptoms that your cat is experiencing. Some of the symptoms that they may have with a cold include:
- watery eyes
- runny nose
- mild fever
More Severe Symptoms
- reduced appetite
What To Do If Your Cat Has a Cold
If your cat has a cold, you can help them feel less uncomfortable by wiping their runny nose with a clean cloth, and runny eyes with a cloth and saline solution. You can also run a humidifier so the air isn't too dry.
If your cat seems to be stuffed up, making breathing a little difficult, 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 important for your cat to continue to eat and drink so they can get better quicker. Food that is warmed up and easier to swallow might make this process more appealing for them. They also need to stay warm, so place an extra blanket in their bed or favorite area to curl up.
Do not 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 you reach out to your vet?
In most cases, 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 may develop into 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 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 for emergency care as soon as possible.
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.