Can Cats Get Colds? All About Feline Respiratory Infections

Last Updated on: April 19, 2024

Much like their human companions, cats can indeed contract colds. These upper respiratory infections affect felines in similar ways to common colds in people, with symptoms like sneezing, runny nose, and watery eyes.

But how can cats get colds and what should we do about it? We’re going to discuss that in this article, so sit back and read on!

Key Takeaways

  • Cats can contract colds that show symptoms similar to the common cold in humans.
  • Recognizing and treating colds in cats is crucial to prevent more serious health problems.
  • Informed care is necessary for preventing and managing colds in feline companions.

Cat Colds Explained

A sneezing cat with watery eyes and a runny nose, curled up in a cozy bed with a thermometer nearby

Cats can experience colds, technically known as upper respiratory infections (URIs), which are similar to the colds in humans and can significantly affect their health.

Causes and Transmission

Upper respiratory infections in cats are primarily caused by two types of viruses: feline herpesvirus (also known as feline viral rhinotracheitis) and feline calicivirus. Both viruses can spread through airborne particles from sneezing, direct contact with infected cats, and sharing contaminated objects.

These infections are highly contagious among cats, especially in places with high feline populations like shelters.

Common Symptoms

Cats with a cold may display:

  • Sneezing
  • Nasal congestion and discharge
  • Coughing
  • Fever
  • Runny eyes
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite

These signs reflect a typical upper respiratory infection, which in severe cases can lead to ulcers or pneumonia.

Diagnosis and Health Risks

A veterinarian will typically diagnose a cat cold based on symptoms, though they may perform tests to rule out bacterial infections. Risks of complications increase if a cat is immunocompromised or under significant stress. Chronic conditions can develop if not properly managed.

Prevention and Vaccination

Vaccines are available to protect against the common viruses causing URIs, including those for herpesvirus and calicivirus. Boosting a cat’s immune system with these vaccines is important for both indoor and outdoor cats. Bordetella vaccines can also help protect cats, especially those in shelters.

Treatment and Care

Treatment for cat colds may involve:

  • Supportive care, such as keeping your cat warm and ensuring they stay hydrated
  • Use of a humidifier or steam therapy to ease congestion
  • Antibiotics if a secondary bacterial infection is present
  • Nutritional support if your cat has a loss of appetite

In more severe cases, hospitalization may be needed. Supplements like lysine can help manage symptoms associated with herpesvirus. Always consult your veterinarian for the best treatment options.

Living with a Cat that has Colds

A cat with a runny nose and watery eyes sits on a cozy blanket, surrounded by tissue boxes and a bowl of water

When your cat has colds, it’s essential to provide appropriate care and closely monitor their condition to prevent complications. Your knowledge and actions can significantly affect their comfort and recovery speed.

Home Care Strategies

Your primary goal is to ease symptoms and support your cat’s immune system. Here are the steps to follow:

  • Ensure constant access to fresh water to prevent dehydration.
  • Wash their food bowl daily to minimize the risk of bacterial infection.
  • Keep their resting area warm and draft-free.
  • Running a humidifier near their bed can help ease nasal congestion.

Understanding Feline Responses

Cats often become lethargic when they are not feeling well. This is a sign they need more rest to fight the infection. Be aware that they might also show frustration or stress, which can manifest as hiding or decreased appetite.

Monitoring and Recovery

Observe for signs of improvement or worsening such as changes in breathing, nasal discharge, or coughing. Regular check-ups with a veterinarian are crucial. Note any notable changes in behavior or symptoms, and ensure you keep up with prescribed medications.

Difficult Cases and Complications

In severe cases, a cat may develop pneumonia or other complications. If your cat’s breathing becomes labored or they refuse to eat or drink, seek veterinary care immediately. Hospitalization may be required for intensive treatment or surgery.

Special Considerations for Kittens and Senior Cats

Kittens and elderly cats may need special care because of their immunocompromised state. They are at a higher risk of developing serious complications and may require a more proactive approach, including isolation from other pets to avoid cross-infection.

Interacting with Other Pets

If you have other pets, it’s important to prevent the spread of illness:

  • Keep your sick cat isolated to protect healthy pets.
  • Avoid contagious diseases like Bordetella bronchiseptica, commonly known as kennel cough.
  • Maintain good hygiene when handling different pets to reduce the risk of cross-infection.
  • Be aware that dogs and other pets have their own set of illnesses and allergies that require attention.

Remember, a calm and well-informed approach will greatly benefit your cat during their recovery period.

Frequently Asked Questions

A curious cat sniffs a tissue box, while a thermometer and a bowl of water sit nearby

In this section, you’ll find focused answers to common queries about cat colds, including self-resolution, treatment, symptoms, and remedies for congestion and sneezing.

Do cat colds go away on their own?

Yes, cat colds often resolve without intervention, typically within 7 to 10 days. However, monitor your cat closely for any signs of worsening symptoms and consult a veterinarian if necessary.

What remedies help with a cat’s sneezing and cold symptoms?

Keeping your cats hydrated, using a humidifier, and ensuring they are in a warm, comfortable environment can help alleviate symptoms. Over-the-counter cat cold remedies should only be used under veterinary guidance.

How can you tell if a cat has a cold?

Symptoms of a cold in cats include sneezing, nasal congestion, runny nose, watery eyes, mild fever, reduced appetite, and lethargy. If you observe these signs, your cat may have a cold.

What can I give my cat for congestion and sneezing?

Consult your veterinarian before administering any medication. They may suggest saline nose drops or gentle steam exposure to ease your cat’s congestion and sneezing. Avoid using human cold products, as these can be toxic to cats.

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