Your cat is sneezing and their nose is running. All signs point to a cold, but do cats even get sick? Here, our Alpharetta vets discuss whether or not a cat can catch a cold and what you can do to help them feel better when they are under the weather.
Can Cats Get a Cold?
Your cat may be sniffling and sneezing leading you to wonder if your cat can get a cold. The answer is that it can and there are ways that you can protect your feline friend.
Cat colds are just as contagious as a cold would be for you or me. 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 have 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 your cat has a cold or allergies is by the symptoms that your cat is experiencing. The typical symptoms of 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 then you'll want to get them feeling better as soon as possible. There are a few ways that you can help them.
You can help them be more comfortable by using a clean cloth to wipe their runny nose, and by cleaning runny eyes with a cloth and saline solution. Placing a humidifier in the space they usually occupy can help to keep the air from becoming 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.
Hydration and nutrition are incredibly important, especially while they are sick. Do what you can to get them to continue eating and drinking. 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 to Call Your Vet if Your Cat Has a Cold
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.