Can Cats Get a Cold?

The first signs of a cold in your cat are sneezing and watery eyes. Our Austell veterinarians explain the signs and symptoms of this feline illness, as well as what you can do to help your cat feel better.

Feline Upper Respiratory Infection

Similar to a human head cold, feline upper respiratory infections, or 'cat colds,' manifest by a variety of different bacteria or viruses, and the symptoms and severity can vary. A cat cold, like a human cold, has no cure, but you can help your cat by alleviating the symptoms.

Cat colds are rarely fatal, but in some cases, symptoms can become severe and lead to a more serious secondary infection. It is critical to closely monitor your cat if they show signs of a cold, especially if they are very young or elderly.

Typical Symptoms of a Cat Cold

Red watery eyes, sneezing, and snorting to clear congestion are the first symptoms you'll notice in your cat.

Within a day of the initial symptoms appearing, other signs and symptoms may appear and can include:

  • Runny nose
  • Excessive sneezing
  • Occasional coughing
  • Mild fever
  • Congestion leading to open mouth breathing
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Dehydration

How Cats Catch Colds

Humans cannot catch a cat cold, but a cat colds are easily transmitted between cats. Colds in cats can be viral or bacterial in nature and are frequently transmitted between cats via sneezing droplets. Due to their frequent contact with other cats, outdoor cats are significantly more susceptible to colds.

If you recently boarded your cat and they are now showing signs of a cold, your pet was most likely exposed to another cat that was sick. By selecting a reputable boarding facility, you can reduce your cat's risk of developing feline upper respiratory infections.

What to do if Your Cat Has a Cold

You can help your sick cat by running a humidifier or vaporizer to increase the humidity in your home. Add a blanket to your cat's favorite resting spots to keep them warm.

If your cat has a stuffy nose, gently wipe it with a clean damp cloth or cotton balls soaked in warm water. With a stuffy nose, your cat will have trouble smelling and tasting food and may stop eating. To get your cat to eat, you may need to warm up his food or buy him special wet cat food.

If your cat's eyes are red, inflamed, and discharge is clear, apply a saline solution with gauze pads to cleanse and soothe. If the discharge turns yellow, green, or thick, call your vet.

Signs That It's Time To Visit the Vet

Colds in cats usually last seven to ten days and are not dangerous. If your cat has been suffering from cold symptoms for more than four days and shows no signs of improvement, it's time to take them to the vet.

Some upper respiratory infections are dangerous and can lead to pneumonia if not treated promptly. If you have a senior cat, a young kitten, or an immune-compromised cat, it's especially important to contact your veterinarian.

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.

If you're concerned about your cat's cold symptoms, contact Bullard Animal Hospital to book an appointment for your cat.