Can Cats Get Colds?

Can Cats Get Colds?

Regrettably, just as humans can catch colds, our beloved cats can also fall victim to these respiratory infections. Known as upper respiratory infections (URIs), colds are particularly widespread among kittens, especially in environments where numerous cats coexist, such as pet stores, shelters, and breeding facilities. Similar to children in daycare settings, kittens in such environments are more susceptible to URIs due to their immature immune systems and close contact with other cats.

Do Cats Get Cold?

Felines aren't susceptible to the same strains of the common cold virus that affect humans, and vice versa, so there's no need to worry about catching a cold from your beloved cat. However, cats can still suffer from an ailment known as cat flu, scientifically termed feline viral upper respiratory disease.

This condition manifests in symptoms resembling a human cold, such as nasal congestion, sneezing fits, fever, and irritated, watery eyes. Additionally, cat flu can induce lethargy, noticeable as a decrease in your cat's usual activity levels.

What Are The Symptoms Of Cold?

Should your feline companion be battling an upper respiratory infection (URI), you might observe several typical symptoms akin to a cat cold:

  • Watery eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Sniffles
  • Sneezing
  • Mild fever

In more severe cases, your cat may also display:

  • Coughing
  • Reduced appetite

Monitoring your cat's health closely and seeking veterinary care if these symptoms persist or worsen is crucial for their well-being.

Causes Of Cold Symptoms In Cats

The primary culprits behind cat colds typically stem from viral infections, with an estimated 90% attributed to two main viruses: feline herpesvirus and feline calicivirus.

The feline herpesvirus, also referred to as feline rhinotracheitis virus, proliferates swiftly, especially in settings where numerous cats share space, such as shelters or rescue centers. Similar to human herpesvirus infections, cats carrying the herpes virus harbor it for life, experiencing periods of dormancy where symptoms may not manifest. However, stressors like boarding or grooming can reactivate the virus, leading to symptoms like sneezing or runny eyes for a brief duration.

Feline Calicivirus presents symptoms akin to those caused by feline herpesvirus, and like its counterpart, it is highly contagious among cats.

Thankfully, these viral infections remain exclusive to felines and do not pose a risk to humans. Moreover, vaccines are available for both viruses, considered essential for kittens and adult cats. While vaccination doesn't guarantee complete immunity, it significantly mitigates symptoms and prevents severe illness.

When To Consult A Vet For Your Cat's Cold Symptoms

Typically, cat colds resolve themselves harmlessly within 1-2 weeks. Nonetheless, vigilance is key, and if your feline friend shows no signs of improvement by the fourth day, scheduling a vet appointment is advisable. Neglecting to address a persistent cold could escalate into pneumonia.

Like humans, extra caution is warranted for older cats, kittens, and cats with underlying health issues, heightening their susceptibility to colds. This caution extends particularly to nursing cats or those lacking proper vaccination. For cats falling into these categories, prompt veterinary attention is imperative.

Regardless of your cat's age or health status, any onset of coughing, breathing difficulties, or loss of appetite warrants immediate veterinary care. Ensuring prompt medical intervention can aid in swift recovery and prevent any complications from arising.

Treatment Of Cold In Cats

Mild instances of cat colds usually don't necessitate medical intervention, but there are several home remedies you can employ to aid your cat's recovery:

  • Bring your cat into the bathroom while you shower to create a steamy environment. The increased humidity can help alleviate nasal congestion.
  • Combat dry air in your home, particularly during winter, using a humidifier to soothe respiratory discomfort.
  • Minimize stress for your cat during the recovery period. Consider confining her to a quiet, cozy room equipped with all the essentials nearby, such as a litter box, food, water, and a warm bed. Pheromone products may also help create a calming atmosphere.

Severe cases, especially those complicated by secondary bacterial infections, often demand antibiotics. Typically, these medications are administered orally at home. If your cat exhibits severe symptoms like difficulty breathing or refusal to eat, hospitalization for 1-2 days might be necessary until she stabilizes enough to resume treatment at home.

The Bottom Line

In conclusion, while cats can catch colds, most cases resolve independently within 1-2 weeks with proper care and monitoring. However, it's crucial to be attentive to any severe symptoms and seek veterinary assistance to ensure your feline companion's health and well-being.

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