Cats can get colds, which can make them have symptoms like a runny nose or sneezing. Our Exeter vets share more about what causes cat colds and when to seek veterinary care for your feline friend.
Can Cats Get a Cold?
Just like when people catch colds from each other, cats can catch colds from other cats. Outdoor cats that hang out with lots of other cats are more likely to get a cold than indoor cats.
Viruses or bacteria cause these upper respiratory infections (URIs). While humans cannot catch cat colds, our feline friends can easily transmit these colds to one another, especially if they are confined to a small area.
If your cat recently stayed at a boarding facility and now has a cold, it probably got the cold from another cat there.
To keep your cat healthy and reduce their risk of getting a cold, choose a good boarding facility that takes good care of their cats and keeps them stress-free.
Signs & Symptoms of Cat colds
Watery eyes, sneezing, sniffles, and a runny nose are all on the list of typical symptoms of cat colds. If your cat has a more severe case of cold, you may notice they have a fever, reduced appetite, or cough.
What to Do If Your Cat Has a Cold
We've received many calls from a worried pet owners saying, "What do I do if my cat has a cold?"
Gently whip their runny nose and eyes with a soft, clean cloth. Clean their nose with a wet, warm paper towel. Running a humidifier in the house so that the air in your home is less dry can also be helpful.
It's difficult for cats to breathe if they are stuffed up. You may be able to help your cat breathe more easily by securely placing them in their pet carrier, putting a bowl of hot steaming water in front of the cage, and then covering the cage and bowl with a blanket for about 15 minutes.
Your cat will begin to feel better more quickly if they continues eating and drinking. Some cats find it easier to swallow food that has been warmed slightly. Warming may also make the food smell more appealing to them.
Keep your cat warm by adding an extra blanket to their bed or favorite spot.
Remember, never give your cat human cold medication. If you need more advice, consult your vet for guidance on helping your cat recover quickly from their cold.
Does My Cat Have Allergies or a Cold?
Cats can have similar symptoms for colds and allergies. You may see watery eyes, coughing, wheezing, or sneezing with both. Typically, if your cat has allergies versus a cold, these issues will be chronic, and you might see them remain over time or happen during a specific instance, such as around the litter box if they are allergic to a component in their litter.
Allergies might also cause skin irritation, itchiness, and stomach issues, which are not common with colds.
When to Seek Veterinary Care
Cat colds are usually not serious and typically go away in 1-2 weeks. But if your cat's cold doesn't improve after four days, it's important to see the vet because it could turn into pneumonia.
If your cat's eyes become red or inflamed and start to bother her, your veterinarian may recommend an ointment, drops, or eyewash to help. A saline wash can flush clear discharge from the eyes and then be gently cleaned from the fur. Additional treatment may be needed if the discharge from your cat's eyes becomes green, yellow, or thick.
For older cats, kittens, nursing cats, those without vaccinations, or cats with health issues. If your cat falls into one of these categories and develops a cold, schedule an exam with your vet immediately.
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.