What to Do When Your Cat Has a Cold

Believe it or not, our feline friends can catch colds just like us. The symptoms of a cat cold are similar to a human cold, like runny noses, sneezing, and coughing. If your cat displays these symptoms, you may be worried and want to know what to do. This article will cover how cats catch colds and what to do when your feline friend is under the weather.

What Causes Cat Colds?

Viruses usually cause cat colds. These viruses do not generally transmit to humans but spread easily between cats. And, just like humans, cats can get secondary bacterial infections on top of a viral infection.

The most common viruses that cause respiratory infections in cats are feline calicivirus and feline rhinotracheitis.

How Does a Cat Catch a Cold?

Most cold viruses are airborne, meaning they travel through the air. The majority of cats will catch a cold by being near a cat that is already ill. Cats that go outdoors or spend time at boarding facilities or other places where they may encounter other felines will be at an increased risk of catching a cold.

However, even if you keep your cats safely indoors, it is still possible for them to catch a cold. Other outdoor cats around your home could expose them to a virus. It is also possible for humans to inadvertently carry the virus inside if they have encountered a sick cat.

Can I Give My Cat Human Cold Medicine?

You should never give a cat human cold medicine or any medicine without consulting with a veterinarian first. Cats metabolize medication differently than humans, and it is very easy to cause an overdose. Most cats will recover at home with time.

Always speak to animal urgent care if you think your cat’s infection is bad enough that it warrants medication.

Signs and Symptoms of a Cat Cold

When a cat has a respiratory infection, their symptoms are like a human cold. You may notice your cat is sneezing, sniffling, or has a runny nose. Their eyes may be watering, and they might cough. Sick cats often have a reduced appetite and may be less active than usual.

How to Prevent Cat Colds

Keeping your cat up to date on vaccinations is one of the best things you can do to prevent them from getting a cold. The RCP vaccine protects cats against the two most common viruses that cause colds. While it is true that vaccines will never provide complete protection, in most cases, if a vaccinated cat does fall ill with a cold, it will typically have milder symptoms and recover faster than an unvaccinated animal.

Taking Care of Your Sick Cat

If your feline friend has come down with a respiratory illness, there are a few ways you can help. Occasionally wiping their runny nose and eyes can reduce their discomfort. Use a clean cloth each time and dampen the fabric with saline solution for the eyes.

Running a humidifier in your home can be helpful. If your kitty seems stuffed up, a steam treatment can help. Take them into your bathroom and turn the shower on hot. Keep your cat in the steam-filled room for about fifteen minutes. Keep a close eye on your cat’s food and water intake while ill. Since being congested can affect the sense of smell, food may seem less attractive.

You may want to warm up the food you give them to make it more appealing and easier to swallow. Ensure your cat has a nice warm spot to curl up in; you may want to provide an extra blanket.

When to See a Vet

Cat colds will often resolve independently in one to two weeks. If you notice an excessive discharge from the eyes or nose, an increasing cough, lethargy, or difficulty breathing, your cat must be seen by a vet. They may decide to do an upper respiratory panel to determine which virus is causing the illness.

Since viruses cause colds, there is no cure, but your vet may provide medications to relieve your cat’s symptoms. More severe illnesses may be treated with fluids to ensure adequate hydration, supplemental oxygen or providing nutrition if the cat is refusing food.

If your cat displays symptoms like sneezing, coughing or a runny nose, they may have come down with a cat cold. The good news is that most cat colds do not cause lasting harm and will self-resolve in a week or two. Just like in humans, cat colds are contagious, and you should try to keep your cat away from other cats for the duration of their illness.

If your cat refuses to eat or has difficulty breathing, you should contact a vet immediately.