Similar to humans, cats can also catch colds, showing symptoms such as runny noses and sneezing. Our local vets talk about cat colds, how they catch them, and when to bring your cat to the vet.
How do cats catch colds?
If your cat is sneezing and sniffling, they may have a cold, and you might wonder how they got it and how to prevent it in the future.
Like human colds, cat colds are contagious. Outdoor cats are at higher risk of catching colds due to contact with other cats. Cat colds are upper respiratory infections caused by viruses or bacteria. They don't spread to humans but can easily pass between cats, particularly in crowded spaces. If your cat caught a cold after boarding, they may have been near another cat with a cold.
Choosing a reputable boarding provider can reduce your cat's stress and lower the chances of them developing an upper respiratory infection.
Cat Colds: Signs & Symptoms
- runny nose
- watery eyes
- mild fever
More Severe Symptoms
- reduced appetite
What to do if Your Cat Has a Cold
If your cat has a cold, help them feel better by wiping their runny nose with a clean cloth and cleaning their eyes with a cloth and saline solution. Using a humidifier can keep the air moist.
If your cat seems congested, place them in their carrier with a bowl of hot water nearby, and cover both with a blanket for 15 minutes.
Ensure your cat eats and drinks to recover quickly. Warm their food to make it more appealing and easier to eat. Keep your cat warm with extra blankets in their bed or favorite spot.
Never give human cold medicine or any medication without your vet's advice. Consult your vet for recommendations tailored to your cat.
When Should I Take My Cat to the Vet?
Usually, cat colds are harmless and resolve within 1-2 weeks. Monitor your cat's health, and if there's no improvement by day four, visit your vet, as untreated colds may lead to pneumonia.
Be extra cautious with older cats, kittens, and those with conditions making them more vulnerable to colds, including nursing or unvaccinated cats. Schedule a vet appointment for these cats immediately.
If your cat starts coughing, has trouble breathing, or stops eating, take them to the vet as soon as possible.