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My Cat Has a Cold: What Should I Do?

Cat colds are upper respiratory infections characterized by all the same symptoms as the human cold. If your feline friend is sneezing or has a runny nose there's a good chance they have a cat cold. Here, our Murfreesboro County vets explain more about cat colds and when to seek veterinary care.

Can cats get a cold?

the short answer is yes. 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.

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.

Upper respiratory infections (URI) in cats are caused by bacteria or viruses. It is not contagious to humans, but it easily spreads between cats, especially in crowded environments. So, if you recently boarded your cat and they now have cold-like symptoms, it's likely that your cat was near another cat suffering from 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 colds in cats?

If your cat is suffering from a URI you may notice that they are exhibiting one or more of the following cat cold symptoms:

  • sneezing
  • sniffles
  • watery eyes
  • runny nose
  • mild fever
More Severe Symptoms
  • reduced appetite
  • coughing

Does my cat have allergies or a cold?

Allergies and colds have very similar symptoms. Sneezing, watery eyes and wheezing or coughing are all symptoms of allergies. If your cat has allergies rather than a cold, it is likely a chronic issue that you will notice repeatedly popping up over time or occurring during a specific instance. If they are allergic to a component of their litter, for example, you may notice them sneezing while using the litter box. Furthermore, allergies are frequently accompanied by symptoms such as digestive upset (bloating, gas) or skin irritation and itchiness, which are not common with colds.

If your cat is experiencing symptoms and you are unsure of the cause, it is always best to bring your cat in to be seen by a vet. 

What to Do if Your Cat has 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 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 must continue to eat and drink so that it can recover as quickly as possible. Warming up and making food easier to swallow may make this process more appealing to them. They need to stay warm as well, so put an extra blanket in their bed or favorite place 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.

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, older cats, kittens, and cats with other conditions that may make them more susceptible to the effects of a cold should be handled with caution. This is especially true for kittens who are nursing or have not been vaccinated. Make an appointment right away if your cat falls into one of these categories.

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.

Does your cat seem to have a cold? Contact Animal Medical Center today to book an examination for your feline friend. 

New Patients Always Welcome

Animal Medical Center is happy to welcome new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about improving the health of Murfreesboro companion animals. Contact us today to book your pet's first appointment.

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