Upper respiratory infections (URIs) in cats are marked by many of the same symptoms as the common cold in people. Your poor cat may have a cat cold if it is sniffling or has a runny nose. Today, our Liberty Lake veterinary team provides more information on feline colds and when to contact your veterinarian.
Can cats get a cold?
As with humans, 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.
Like the human cold, cat colds are highly contagious. 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.
Upper respiratory infections (URIs) in cats are brought on by bacteria or viruses. Although it is not contagious to humans, it spreads quickly among cats, especially in crowded settings. Therefore, if you recently boarded your cat and they are now exhibiting cold-like symptoms, it is likely that your cat was in close proximity to another cat who was ill with an upper respiratory infection.
Choosing a reputable boarding provider could also help to reduce the chances of increasing your pet's stress levels, and will make it less likely for your cat to develop a URI.
What are the signs of cat colds?
If your cat is suffering from an upper respiratory infection you may notice that they are experiencing one or more of the following cat cold symptoms:
- watery eyes
- runny nose
- mild fever
- reduced appetite
What to do if your cat has a cold
It can be challenging to know what to do if your cat has a cold. You may want to try wiping their runny nose with a clean cloth, and runny eyes with a cloth and saline solution to help them feel better. 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.
Your cat needs to keep eating and drinking in order to heal more quickly. They might find this process more appealing if the food is warmed up and made simpler to swallow. Put an extra blanket in their bed or their preferred spot for curling up because they also need to stay warm.
Never give your cat human cold medication (or any medication without the advice of your vet). Always speak with your veterinarian to find out what they recommend to help your kitty feel better.
How will I know if my cat needs to see a vet?
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 crucial to exercise caution around older cats, kittens, and cats who may already be suffering from conditions that make them more vulnerable to the side effects of a cold. This is particularly true for cats who are nursing or who haven't received their vaccinations. Make an appointment right away if your cat fits into one of these descriptions.
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 an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.