Colds in Cats
Sneezing and sniffles are signs that your cat has a cold, but you may be wondering how it happened in the first place and what to do to help your feline friend.
Just like colds in humans, cat colds are contagious. This means that outdoor cats are more likely to find themselves with the cold virus than indoor cats due to more exposure to other cats.
Cat colds are an upper respiratory infection (URI) caused by bacteria or a virus. As of this posting, cats cannot infect their humans with their cold. However, cat colds are easily transmitted between cats. 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.
Cat Colds: Signs & Symptoms
- Watery eyes
- Runny nose
- Mild fever
- Reduced appetite
How to Care for Your Sick Cat
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.
If your cat seems to be stuffed up, you can try a method that is often used for humans, and apply a little steam to help make breathing a little less difficult. To do this secure them in their pet carrier, put a bowl of hot water in front of the cage (far enough away from the carrier so they can't reach the bowel with their paws), and cover both with a blanket for about 15 minutes.
It's important for your cat to continue eating and drinking. A suggestion to help tempt them to eat is to warm up their food and serve them wet food so they get some extra fluids. They also need to stay warm, so place an extra blanket in their bed or favorite area to curl up.
Do not ever give human cold medication (or any medication without consulting your vet) to your cat. Always speak with your vet to see what they recommend for your pet.
When You Need to See The Vet
In most cases, cat colds are harmless and will go away within 1-2 weeks. You still need to monitor their health. 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 extra 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.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For a diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.