Cats can catch colds just like people, displaying similar symptoms such as sneezing and a runny nose. Here, our San Gabriel vets talk about causes and when to seek veterinary care.
My Cat Has a Cold
Sneezing and sniffles are signs that your cat has a cold, but you may be wondering how it happened in the first place. And, more importantly, how you can avoid it in the future.
Cat colds, like human colds, are contagious. Because they are more likely to interact with other cats, outdoor cats are more likely to contract the cold virus than indoor cats.
Cat colds are caused by a bacterial or viral upper respiratory infection (URI). It is not contagious to humans, but it easily spreads between cats, especially in close quarters. So, if you recently boarded your cat and they now have a cold, it's likely that your pet was near another cat with a cold.
Cat Colds: Signs & Symptoms
- 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 is critical that your cat continues to eat and drink in order for them to recover as quickly as possible. Warming up and making food easier to swallow may make this process more appealing to them. They need to stay warm as well, so put an extra blanket in their bed or favorite place to curl up.
Do not ever 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 to Seek Veterinary Care
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 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.