Cats can catch colds and may show symptoms similar to those in humans, such as a runny nose or sneezing. Our Orlando vets provide more information on the causes of cat colds and when to seek veterinary care for your feline friend.
Can Cats Get a Cold?
Just as people can catch colds, cat colds prove to be contagious. This implies that outdoor cats, engaging in more frequent interactions with fellow felines, face a higher likelihood of contracting a cold virus compared to their indoor counterparts. Upper respiratory infections (URIs) result from viruses or bacteria.
Although humans are immune to cat colds, feline companions can easily transmit these infections to each other, particularly when confined to a restricted space.
If your cat acquired a cold after a recent stay in a boarding facility, it likely came into contact with another cat afflicted by a cold.
Selecting a reputable boarding provider can alleviate your pet's stress levels and reduce the risk of your cat developing an upper respiratory infection.
Signs & Symptoms of Cat colds
Cat colds typically manifest with symptoms like watery eyes, sneezing, sniffles, and a runny nose. If your cat develops a more severe cold, you may notice signs such as fever, decreased appetite, or coughing.
What to Do If Your Cat Has a Cold
Many worried pet owners have called us, saying, "My cat has a cold. What should I do?"
To help your cat feel better, wipe their runny nose with a soft, clean cloth and clear their watery eyes with a cloth and saline solution. Clean the nose using a wet, warm paper towel. Improve the air in your home by running a humidifier to alleviate dryness.
If your cat is congested, facilitate easier breathing by securely placing them in their pet carrier. Put a bowl of hot steaming water in front of the cage, cover both the cage and bowl with a blanket, and let it sit for about 15 minutes.
Encourage your cat to eat and drink to expedite their recovery. Some cats may find it easier to swallow slightly warmed food, which can also enhance its appeal.
Ensure your cat stays warm during their cold. Place an extra blanket in their favorite spot or bed to keep them cozy.
Avoid giving your cat human cold medication. For guidance on helping your cat recover quickly, contact your vet.
Does My Cat Have Allergies or a Cold?
The symptoms of a cat cold and allergies closely resemble each other. Both may manifest as watery eyes, coughing, wheezing, or sneezing. If your cat has allergies rather than a cold, these problems will persist chronically. You may observe them consistently over time or occurring during specific instances, such as around the litter box, if your cat is allergic to a component in their litter.
Allergies may also present additional symptoms, including skin irritation, itchiness, and stomach upset, such as gas or bloating—manifestations not commonly associated with colds.
When to Seek Veterinary Care
Most cat colds are harmless and typically resolve within 1-2 weeks. If your cat's cold shows no improvement by the fourth day, schedule a vet appointment, as a persistent cold may progress to pneumonia.
If your cat's eyes turn red, inflamed, and cause discomfort, your vet may suggest ointments, drops, or eyewashes for relief. A saline wash can effectively clear discharge from the eyes, which can then be gently wiped from the fur. Seek additional treatment if the discharge becomes green, yellow, or thick.
Exercise extra caution with older cats, kittens, nursing cats, unvaccinated cats, and cats with other health conditions. If your cat falls into any of these categories and develops a cold, promptly schedule a vet exam.
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.