Has your cat been sneezing and sniffling lately? Perhaps you're wondering if your cat has a cold and what you can do about it. In this post, our Rancho Cucamonga vets offer some tips on actions to take if your cat is sick.
Can cats get a cold?
If you notice your cuddly kitty has a runny nose, watery eyes and the sniffles, you may be wondering if your cat has a cold - and how they caught it. More importantly, you probably want to know how you can avoid it in the future.
Similar to colds in people, cat colds are contagious, meaning outdoor cats are more likely to find themselves with the cold virus than an indoor cat since they are more likely to interact with other cats.
Cat colds are an upper respiratory infection (URI) caused by a virus or bacteria. While this type of feline illness is not contagious to humans, it can easily be transmitted between cats, especially in close quarters.
If you've boarded your cat recently and they now have a cold, your pet was likely near another cat suffering from a cold. By choosing a reputable boarding provider, you can reduce the chances of your pet's stress levels being at an increased level, which will in return lessen their chances of developing a URI.
At Rancho Regional Veterinary Hospital, we watch over your pet as if it were our own. Whether you need to board your pet with us so they will have a safe place to stay when you leave town or they are recovering from a medical procedure, we can provide your animal a home away from home.
Cat Colds: Signs & Symptoms
Many people come to us wondering if their cat has a cold. Here are some common signs that your feline friend may be feeling unwell:
- Mild fever
- Runny nose
- Red, watery eyes
- Congestion leading to open-mouth breathing
- Loss of appetite
More Severe Symptoms
- Reduced appetite
Does my cat have allergies or a cold?
You might wonder whether your cat's sniffles and sneezes are due to allergies or a cold. The symptoms of allergies and a cold are very similar in that both can include watery eyes, sneezing and coughing or wheezing.
Typically, if your cat as allergies this will be a chronic issue that comes up consistently over time or reoccurs 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.
How should I care for my sick cat?
A veterinarian can determine what's causing your cat's illness. Your next thought will likely be, "My cat has a cold? What can I do to nurse them back to health?"
Wiping their runny nose with a clean cloth can help them feel less uncomfortable. Using a cloth and saline solution on their runny eyes will also keep the area clean. You can 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 - they can tell you more about what to do if your cat has a cold depending on the animal's age, health status and other factors that may be unique to them.
When to Seek Veterinary Care
In most cases, cat colds are harmless and will go away within 1-2 weeks. However, their health will need to be monitored, and if there is no sign of improvement by the fourth day, we recommend making an appointment with your vet for an examination as a persistent 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, this is considered a veterinary emergency 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.