Much like people, cats can come down with the sniffles, otherwise known as a cold or a feline upper respiratory infection. Today our Rockland County vets discuss cat colds and how you can help your kitty feel better.
Feline Upper Respiratory Infection
Can cats get a cold? Yes! Feline Upper Respiratory Infection or 'cat colds' are very similar to human colds. Cat colds are typically not considered life-threatening, however, in some cases, symptoms may become severe and lead to a more dangerous secondary infection. It is especially important to closely monitor very young, or senior cats if they show signs of a cat cold.
How Cats Catch Colds
Cat colds can be viral or bacterial in nature and are usually passed between cats through the droplets spread by a sneeze. As such, outdoor cats or cats that spend a lot of time in a boarding facility are much more susceptible to catching a cold.
Typical Symptoms of a Cat Cold
Cat colds generally start with sneezing, with other symptoms appearing over the course of 24 hours. Below is a list of the most common symptoms of cat colds:
- Runny nose
- Excessive sneezing
- Excessive coughing
- Congestion leading to open mouth breathing
- Loss of appetite
- Red watery eyes
Does My Cat Have Allergies or a Cold?
The symptoms of allergies and a cold are very similar. Both can include symptoms such as sneezing, watery eyes, and wheezing or coughing. Typically if your cat has allergies rather than a cold it will be a chronic issue that you might notice consistently popping up over time or occurring during a specific instance. For example, if they are allergic to a component of their litter, you might notice they sneeze while using the litter box. In addition, allergies can often be accompanied by symptoms such as digestive upset (bloating, gas) or skin irritation and itchiness, two things not commonly seen with colds.
If your cat is experiencing symptoms and you are unsure of the cause, it is always best to bring your cat in to be seen by a vet.
What To Do if Your Cat Has a Cold
To help your cat feel better while they have a cold, increase the humidity in your house by running a humidifier or vaporizer. If your cat has a stuffy nose you can use a warm, damp cloth to gently wipe their nose. Cleanse and soothe your cat's watery eyes by applying a saline solution with gauze pads.
While your cat is stuffy they will have difficulty smelling food and may stop eating. Food is important for keeping your cat's strength up while they recover, so it may be a good time to buy some extra special wet cat food to tempt your feline friend to eat. Warming your cat's food may also help.
Add an extra blanket to your cat's favorite resting spots to help keep them warm and comfortable.
Signs That It's Time To Visit the Vet
Cat colds typically begin to clear up after just a few days. If you do not notice any signs of improvement within 4 days, it is time to bring your cat to the vet.
Cat colds can lead to more serious infections if left untreated. It is particularly important to contact your vet if you have a senior cat, young kitten, or immune-compromised cat.
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.