In my years as a veterinarian, I’ve seen my fair share of cats sniffling, sneezing, and coughing. And unsurprisingly, the question “Can cats get colds?” arises quite often from concerned pet parents.
The answer is yes – cats can indeed catch colds, and it’s more common than you might think.
Even though cats are known for their independence, they are not immune to the common cold. If not taken care of, these colds can lead to more severe health problems. In this article, let’s delve into why it’s important to spot cat cold symptoms early and when your furry companion might require professional assistance.
Whether you’re a new cat owner or a seasoned one, this guide will equip you with valuable knowledge to keep your cat healthy and happy.
Can cats get colds?
Yes, cats can indeed get colds, and it’s more common than many pet owners realize. I often see cats showing symptoms similar to the common cold in humans, such as sneezing, runny eyes, and a stuffy nose. These are signs that your feline friend might have caught a cold.
It’s important to note that cat colds often stick with them for life (if unvaccinated), unlike human colds, which tend to resolve on their own. The symptoms may come and go depending on the stress level of your cat.
In my experience, the severity of cat colds can vary depending on how healthy a cat is and the exact strain of virus or bacteria causing the infection. While some mild cases can be managed at home, many more serious infections may escalate into severe health issues if left untreated.
So yes, cats and kittens can catch colds. So, it’s crucial to keep an eye on your furry friend’s health and consult a veterinarian if you notice any concerning symptoms.
What is a Cat Cold?
Cat colds, also known as feline upper respiratory infections, share similarities with the common cold in humans. However, the viruses causing these infections are different.
Two primary culprits, Feline Herpesvirus-1 (FHV-1) and Feline Calicivirus (FCV), are behind approximately 80% of all cases. The severity of a cat cold may fluctuate, depending on factors like your pet’s age, stress level, and overall health.
While viruses play a significant role, bacteria such as Bordetella bronchiseptica and Chlamydophila felis also contribute to a lesser extent. In certain cases, cats may experience co-infections with multiple pathogens, complicating their situation.
I’ve seen many concerned owners worry that they might catch a cold from their cat and vice versa; it’s essential to clarify that, although symptoms are similar, the pathogens causing cat colds differ from those causing human colds. This means you won’t catch a cold from your cat or pass yours to them, granting relief to many pet owners.
How Do Cats Get Colds?
Cats usually catch colds through direct contact with other infected cats. Outdoor cats are more at risk because they interact with other animals outside. However, cats can also get colds by coming into contact with objects contaminated by an infected animal, like bedding materials, toys, or food dishes, especially in communal spaces like shelters and catteries.
Common cold-causing viruses in cats include the feline herpesvirus and feline calicivirus. Bacterial infections can also cause colds, making the illness more contagious. When I come across a cold-infected cat, I recommend taking immediate steps toward treatment and prevention to stop the spread within the household, including:
- Isolate the affected cat until fully recovered
- Wash your hands before handling each pet
- Avoid sharing toys during illness periods
- Clean and disinfect commonly touched areas frequently
By taking a proactive approach with these measures, you can greatly reduce the risk of transmission and ensure the well-being of the other adorable kitties in your home. So, always keep an eye on your pets’ health and take the necessary precautions to protect them from colds.
Cat Cold Symptoms
The symptoms of a cat cold are similar to a cold that we might catch ourselves. The symptoms of a cat cold are:
If your cat is presenting these symptoms, it’s likely they are suffering from some form of cat flu.
What to Do if Your Cat Has a Cold
If your cat has a cold, the first thing to make sure is that they’re comfortable and hydrated.
Encourage them to eat and drink, as maintaining their strength is essential for recovery. Keep them warm and cozy with soft blankets or heated pet beds.
Additionally, maintaining a stress-free environment can enhance comfort levels for sick cats, so try to keep noise levels low and stick to regular routines.
Often, mild cold symptoms like occasional snuffles and sneezes can be managed with home remedies like using a humidifier to clear their nasal passages or introducing immune support supplements. There are a few home remedies you can try for mild cases or in addition to veterinary treatment. Just remember to never give your cat human cold medication, as it can be toxic!
If your cat is feeling lethargic, experiencing a loss of appetite, or showing signs of fever, it’s a good idea to visit your local veterinarian. Consulting a professional is crucial for an accurate diagnosis and the right treatment plan. Remember, even a simple cold can escalate into something more serious if left untreated, like pneumonia.
Veterinary Cat Cold Treatment Options
Unfortunately, in my experience, most cases of cat colds require more than just at-home care. So how do vet’s usually treat a cat’s cold?
First, a vet will perform a thorough examination to ensure that your cat’s symptoms align with a feline upper respiratory infection. Once confirmed, it’s crucial to make sure your cat stays hydrated and well-fed. Sometimes, it can be a bit challenging when their sense of smell is affected by a stuffy nose.
Now, onto medications – if it’s a bacterial infection, vets will usually prescribe antibiotics. However, these don’t work for viral infections. In such cases, antiviral drugs might be recommended, however these can be expensive and don’t always work. Supportive care in the form of anti-inflammatories and decongestants is usually needed to help relieve symptoms.
Remember, the best way to combat cat colds is through prevention! I strongly advise getting your cat vaccinated to keep them healthy and protected. However, vaccination won’t work once a cat has caught a cold.
When to See a Vet for a Cat Cold
As a veterinarian, I’ve seen many cases of cat colds. While a majority of them resolve at home with comfort and supportive care, there comes a time when you should consult a professional. Here’s some pointers on when it’s crucial to see a vet for a sick cat with a cold.
If your cat’s symptoms, such as sneezing or a runny nose, last for more than one week, even with at-home care, it’s time to bring them in. Prolonged symptoms could indicate an underlying condition like FIV or FeLV, which weakens their immune system and makes them susceptible to viral infections.
Watch out for worsening conditions despite the comforts of hydration and warmth. If your cat becomes lethargic over several days and doesn’t eat or drink, you should seek veterinary assistance. Your cat’s congested nose can affect their sense of smell, reducing their appetite, which may lead to dangerous weight loss and dehydration if left untreated.
Similarly, if your cat begins coughing or has difficulty breathing, this could indicate pneumonia; these more severe symptoms indicate you should seek veterinary care ASAP. Cats showing respiratory distress require urgent medical care. Trust me, as a vet, I’ve seen how swiftly pneumonia can escalate in cats.
Fever is another red flag. A cat’s normal body temperature is between 100-102°F; anything higher indicates a fever requiring attention. Cats with a fever usually require more aggressive treatment and even fluids to cool them down.
But in short, you shouldn’t necessarily wait to see these symptoms before consulting your vet – if you’re worried for any reason then it’s best to have them checked out. Speaking from experience, prompt attention can make all the difference in ensuring your cat’s health and well-being.
How do I know if my cat has a cold?
Symptoms like coughing, sneezing, eye discharge, and a runny nose are all signs of a cold. In more severe cases, your cat may show signs of lethargy, loss of appetite, and fever.
Do cat colds go away on their own?
Some mild cases of cat colds can resolve on their own after a few days. However, if your cat’s symptoms don’t improve, or if they worsen, within four days, it’s time for a visit to the vet, as untreated colds can lead to pneumonia.
How do indoor cats get colds?
You might be surprised to learn that indoor cats can catch colds, too. They can be exposed to airborne pathogens carried in by humans or other cats. Cats may have also caught the cold virus earlier in life and not show symptoms until stress weakens their immune system, allowing the symptoms to appear.
When should I worry about my cat sneezing?
A single sneeze from your cat is usually not a cause for concern. But it’s time to consult your vet if the sneezing becomes frequent or is accompanied by other symptoms, like a runny nose, watery eyes, or coughing. Remember, I am here to help keep your furry friend in tip-top shape!