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Cats & Colds: Can They Get Them & What to Do?

Just like people, cats can catch colds and display similar symptoms to their humans, such as sneezing and a runny nose. Today, our Kinston vets discuss causes and when to seek veterinary care. 

Can cats get a cold?

While sniffing and sneezing are definitely signs that your cat has a cold, you may be wondering how this happened in the first place — and more importantly, how you can avoid it in the future. 

Similar to colds in humans, cat colds are contagious. This means that outdoor cats are more likely to contract a cold virus than an indoor cat because they are more likely to interact with other cats. 

Cat colds are upper respiratory infections (URI) caused by bacteria or a virus. While not contagious for humans, it can easily be transmitted between cats, especially in compact conditions. So, if your cat has been boarded recently and they now have a cold, your pet was likely near another cat suffering from a cold. 

Booking your pet's stay with a reputable boarding provider will decrease the chances of your pet's stress levels rising and will make it less likely that your cat will develop a URI. At Five Oaks Animal Hospital, we look after your pet as if it were our own. Feel free to schedule your cat's boarding stay with us or contact us for more information. 

Cat Colds: Signs & Symptoms

Here are some common symptoms of colds in cats:

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

More Severe Symptoms 

  • Coughing
  • Reduced appetite 

How to Care for Your Sick Cat

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.

It's important for your cat to continue to eat and drink so they can get better quicker. 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.

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.

Does my cat have allergies or a cold?

Symptoms of allergies and a cold are very similar. Both can involve watery eyes, sneezing, and wheezing or coughing. Typically, if your cat has allergies rather than a cold, this will be a chronic issue that you may notice consistently coming up over time or occurring during a specific instance. For example, if they are allergic to an ingredient in their litter, you may notice them sneeze when using the litter box. 

Allergies can also be accompanied by symptoms including digestive upset (gas and bloating), itchiness or skin irritation, two things not usually seen with colds. If your cat is experiencing symptoms and you are not sure of the cause, it's always best to schedule an appointment with your vet. 

What to Do If Your Cat Has a Cold

Many people come to us asking, "My cat has a cold. What should I do?"

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 for an exam as a persisting cold that does not get treated properly may develop into 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 of 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.

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.

Are you concerned about your cat's cold? Contact our Kinston vets today to help get your pup's weight under control.

Always Welcoming New Patients

Five Oaks Animal Hospital is thrilled to be accepting new patients! Our qualified vets are passionate about the health of Kinston companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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