Cats do sometimes catch colds and may display symptoms similar to humans like sneezing and a runny nose. Here's more from our Echo Park vet team on the causes of cat colds, and when to seek veterinary care for your feline friend.
How Do Cats Catch Colds?
Like colds among humans, cat colds are contagious among felines. This means that outdoor or indoor-outdoor cats that come into contact more regularly with other cats are more likely to find themselves with the cold virus than solely indoor cats.
Cat colds are upper respiratory infections (URI) caused by bacteria or viruses. Humans cannot catch cat colds, but these colds are very easily transmitted between cats, especially if they are confined to a small area.
If your cat has recently been boarded, and now has a cold, there's a good chance that your pet was near another cat suffering from a cold.
Choosing a reputable board provider can help to reduce the chances of increasing your pet's stress levels, and help make it less likely that your cat will develop an upper respiratory infection.
Cat Cold Symptoms
A runny nose, sneezing, sniffles, and watery eyes are all normal symptoms of colds in cats. In more severe cases, cats can experience coughing, reduced appetite and a fever. A temperature of over 102.5º F (39º C) is considered a fever in cats, with 106º F (41º C) and up being extremely dangerous to your cat's health. Head to the emergency vet right away if your cat has a high fever.
Caring for Your Sick Cat
If your cat has a cold, gently cleaning their runny nose with a soft clean cloth, and clearing their watery eyes with a soft clean cloth and saline solution, can help to make your cat feel better. If your home has dry air or it is wintertime, running a humidifier in areas your cat frequents 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, then covering the cage and bowl with a blanket for about 15 minutes.
Your cat will begin to feel better more quickly if they continue 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.
Try to keep your cat warm while they have a cold. Place an extra blanket in their favorite spot or in their bed, to help keep them cozy.
Never give your cat human cold medication! For advice on how to help your cat feel better and recover quickly from their cold, contact your vet.
When To Seek Veterinary Care
Usually, cat colds are harmless and resolve themselves within 1-2 weeks. Keep an eye on your cat's cold, if there's no improvement by the fourth day, make an appointment to visit your vet. A persisting cold could develop into pneumonia.
Be extra careful with older cats, kittens, nursing cats, unvaccinated cats, and cats with other health conditions. If your cat falls into one of these categories and develops a cold, make an appointment 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.