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I think my cat has a cold. What should I do?

Is your feline family member stuffy, sneezing and lethargic? Sounds like a cat cold. Our Greensboro vets discuss the symptoms of cat colds, what they are and when to book a vet appointment.

Upper Respiratory Infections in Cats

Our vets are often asked, "Can cats get colds?". The answer is a resounding yes! Just like us your kitty can suffer from that stuffy tired feeling we get when we have a cold.

Cat colds are upper respiratory infections characterized by many of the same symptoms we experience when we catch a cold.  Sneezing and sniffles are two of the most common symptoms you will notice if your cat has a cold, but why is your cat suffering from a cold and how you can avoid it in the future?

Just like the human cold virus, cat colds are very contagious among our feline friends. 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.

Feline upper respiratory infections (URI) can be caused by either bacteria or viruses. Although these infections are not contagious to humans, they are very easily transmitted between cats, especially in crowded conditions. So if you've boarded your cat recently and they now have cold-like symptoms, it's likely your kitty was near another cat suffering from an upper respiratory infection.

The truth is that your cat could catch a cold even from the cleanest and fanciest boarding facility, but choosing a reputable boarding provider may help to reduce the chances of increasing your kitty's stress levels, making it somewhat less likely for your cat to develop a URI. 

Signs That Your Cat May Have a Cold

Cat colds produce many of the same symptoms that human colds produce, although many pet parents are left wondering whether their cat has allergies or a cold. 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

If your cat's cold symptoms last for more than a couple of days, something else such as allergies could be the cause. Be sure to call your vet to book an examination for your feline family member.

What To Do If Your Cat Has a Cold

Just like when we have a cold, all we really want is to be warm and comfy while we rest and recover. Here are a few things you can do to help your cat feel more comfortable as they recover from their cold: 

  • To help your cat feel less stuffy, gently wipe your kitty's runny nose with a soft clean cloth, and clear their runny eyes using a soft cloth dipped in saline solution. You could also try running a humidifier so the air isn't too dry.
  • If your cat is really 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.
  • Ensure that your cat continues to eat and drink so they can get better quicker. Soft 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.
  • Never 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 Call The Vet About Your Cat's Cold Symptoms

Cats with other underlying conditions can be more susceptible to the effects of a cold as can senior cat and kittens. This is particularly true of cats that are nursing, or that haven't been vaccinated. If your cat falls into one of these categories, make an appointment for your cat to see the vet immediately.

Generally, 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.

If your cat begins coughing, has difficulty breathing, or stops eating, contact your vet right away to book an appointment.

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.

Concerned about your kitty's cold symptoms? Contact our Greensboro vets to book an examination for your feline family member. 

Kitten snuggled up keeping warm.

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