Just like people, cats are capable of catching colds. They display similar symptoms to us as well, such as sneezing or having a runny nose. Here, our Pickering & Ajax veterinary team talks about the causes of colds in cats and when to seek medical care for your feline companion.
How did my cat catch a cold?
Sniffles and sneezes are sure signs that your cat has a cold. However, you may be wondering how this happened in the first place! And more importantly, you may be wondering how you can prevent it in the future.
Cats' colds, just like human ones, are contagious. This means that outdoor cats are more likely to find themselves with a cold than an indoor cat, since they are much more likely to interact with other cats.
Cats' colds are upper respiratory infections (URIs) caused by a virus or bacteria. It isn't contagious for humans, but is easily transmissible between our feline friends (especially when in close quarters). If you've boarded your cat recently and now it has a cold, it's most likely that your pet was near another cat with a cold.
Choosing a reputable boarding provider will reduce the chances of increasing your pet's stress levels, and will make it less likely for your cat to develop a URI.
Cat Colds: Signs & Symptoms
- Watery eyes
- Runny nose
- Mild fever
More Severe Symptoms
- Reduced appetite
How to Care for Your Sick Cat
If your cat catches a cold, you can help them to feel less uncomfortable by wiping their runny nose using a clean cloth as well as their runny eyes with a cloth and saline solution. Running a humidifier to make sure the air isn't too dry can also help.
If your cat is stuffed up and having a little trouble breathing, secure them in their carrier, put a bowl of hot water in front of their cage, and cover it with a blanket for about 15 minutes.
While your cat may fast when they feel unwell, they should continue to eat and drink to speed up their recovery. Warmed food is easier to swallow for them and may make eating more appealing. Your kitty may also need to stay warm, so make sure their bed or other favourite area has an extra blanket to curl up in.
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 the majority of cases, feline colds are harmless and will go away within a week or two. You should make sure you continue to monitor your cat's health throughout the process though. If they don't show any signs of improvement, make an appointment with your vet as soon as possible. A cold which isn't properly treated and managed may develop into something more serious, like pneumonia.
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 for cats that are nursing, or that haven't been vaccinated. If your cat falls into one of these categories, make an appointment immediately.
In any case, if your cat begins coughing, has difficulty breathing, or stops eating, they need to see a vet as soon as possible.