Not all pet owners are aware that cats can catch colds just like people, also displaying similar symptoms such as sneezing and a runny nose. Our Grand Prairie vets talk about causes and when to seek veterinary care if your cat has a cold.
How Did My Cat Catch a Cold?
Sneezing and sniffles are signs that your cat has a cold, but you may be wondering how it happened in the first place and how you can avoid it in the future.
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 because they are more likely to interact with other cats.
Cat colds are upper respiratory infections (URI) caused by bacteria or a virus. It is not contagious for humans but easily transmits among cats, especially in compact conditions. So if you have boarded your cat recently and they now have developed a cold, it's likely your pet was near another cat suffering from a cold.
Although cat colds are relatively harmless, symptoms can lead to more serious illnesses and infections.
Cat Colds: Signs & Symptoms
If your cat has severe or prolonged symptoms such as those listed below, bring your cat to the Carrier Animal Hospital for a wellness exam.
- Runny nose
- Watery eyes
- Loss of appetite
How to Care for a Cat With a Cold
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. You can also run a humidifier so the air isn't too dry.
If your cat seems to be stuffed up, making breathing a difficult process, 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 continue to eat and drink so it can heal at a quicker pace. 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 ever 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 Seek Veterinary Care
In most cases, cat colds are harmless and will be completely gone within 1-2 weeks. You do need to monitor their health, however. If there is no sign of improvement by the fourth day, you should make an appointment with your vet as a cold that does not get treated properly may develop into pneumonia.
Cat colds typically begin to clear up after just a few days. If your cat has been suffering from the symptoms of a cold and shows no sign of improvement within 4 days, it may be time to visit the vet.
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 that haven't been vaccinated
Cat colds can lead to more serious infections if left untreated. It is particularly important to contact your vet if you have a senior cat, young kitten, or immune-compromised cat.
In any case, if your cat begins coughing, has difficulty breathing, or stops eating, they need to see a vet as soon as possible.