Watery eyes, a runny nose, fever, sneezing, loss of appetite, and a sensation of lethargy are all common cat cold symptoms. Colds in cats can last anywhere between one and four weeks, depending on how promptly they are recognized and treated. If your cat’s cold is very severe, and she is off feed due to it, take it to the vet immediately, or if your cat’s cold is not gone even after a month, you must consult your vet as soon as possible.
You can’t give your cat a tablespoon of cold medicine and send her to bed like you would a human when she’s sneezing a lot and has a runny nose. Likewise, you should never give your cat human-grade over-the-counter medications, no matter how uncomfortable she is.
What Causes Cats to Catch Colds?
Viruses cause the majority of colds in cats. Still, they can also induce by bacterial infections, and may be your cat get a secondary bacterial disease on top of her viral illness. Calicivirus and feline herpesvirus, sometimes known as rhinotracheitis, are two of the most common causes.
These diseases are primarily transmitted through the air, but they can also be transmitted through water. For example, most cats develop colds by being close to a sick cat. This makes settings like a shelter, boarding kennel, or cattery, where there are many cats in close quarters ideal for spreading colds. Indoor cats in family households, on the other hand, are not immune to developing colds. So even if you pet a sick cat somewhere and then come home and engage with your cat, your cat can be exposed to viruses and bacteria from cats who hang around outside your home.
The danger of developing a cold is increased by poor air quality and ventilation. Cats with a weaker immune system as a result of various disorders are also at risk. Systemic diseases, including kidney disease, asthma, allergies, and even stress, might put your cat at risk. For cats with allergies and asthma, forced air heat in the winter can exacerbate symptoms and make them more susceptible to URIs, especially if the vents aren’t kept clean.
Even after the acute illness has passed, some viruses can remain in your cat’s body for a long time. These viruses are dormant until triggered by stress or another sickness later in the cat’s life. This is especially true in feline herpes.
Cold Symptoms in Cats
The following are symptoms of a cold or upper respiratory illness in cats:
- sniffles or congestion
- a stuffy nose
- Watery eyes
- Lack of appetite
- Ulcers, especially those on the tongue
- Enlarged Lymph nodes
The symptoms of a cold in a cat might persist anywhere from one to two weeks.
How to Care for a Coughing Cat
You can give supportive care at home to keep your cat comfortable if she displays indications of a cold but is otherwise healthy.
- Provide her with a comfortable, warm location where she may relax undisturbed.
- Use a moist towel to clean her face as needed to eliminate any crusting around her nose or eyes. If necessary, artificial tears might be used to flush her eyes.
- A humidifier can aid in the relief of irritated airways.
- Increase the odor of her meal by warming it. Your cat’s sense of smell may be affected by congestion, making her less interested in her food.
Do not give your cat any cold medicine without first speaking with your veterinarian. Cats have a different metabolizing system than humans, and many pharmaceuticals that are safe for people are hazardous to cats. For example, under no circumstances should you administer acetaminophen (Tylenol) to your cat. Aspirin is helpful in some instances, but it’s also possible to overdose, so get a precise dosage from your veterinarian depending on your cat’s current weight.
With time and supportive care, most kitty colds will go away on their own. However, if your cat is ill enough to need treatment for her cold, she will be best treated by your veterinarian’s medications designed for cats.
How Can You Keep Your Cat Away from Catching a Cold?
- Vaccinate your cat under your veterinarian’s advice. Immunity against calicivirus and rhinotracheitis has been stimulated by the RCP vaccination (also known as FVRCP or feline distemper) (feline herpes). Chlamydia has also been included in several of these vaccinations. Cats who have been vaccinated against certain diseases can still get them, but they will have milder symptoms and recover faster.
- Keep your cat away from diseased cats and cats with a medical history you don’t know about. Keep your cat in the house at all times or only let her out on a leash and harness in an enclosed catio.
- Keep your cats’ living quarters clean and ensure that they have enough airflow.
- To boost your cat’s immune system and overall health, feed a well-balanced food.
When Should You Take a Cat to the Vet?
Your cat does not need to see your veterinarian if she is merely sneezing with some clear discharge but otherwise appears healthy.
Concerns that may need a visit to the veterinarian to include:
- Breathing problems
- Nasal or ocular discharge that is excessive or pus-like
- Ulcer in the mouth and on the tongue
- Fatigue or depression
If your cat has any of these signs or a combination of them, she should consult a veterinarian. Young, aged, pregnant, or otherwise immune-compromised cats are more likely to have difficulties clearing a cold; therefore, even moderate illnesses should be treated by a veterinarian.
Your veterinarian will most likely only treat your cat’s cold symptoms. An upper respiratory panel test can be sent out to determine precisely what is causing your cat’s illness, which the vet may undertake during the visit.
While most colds have no cure, your veterinarian can prescribe drugs to alleviate symptoms and treat secondary bacterial infections. For example, to calm your cat’s eyes, your veterinarian may prescribe eye ointments, antibiotics for suspected bacterial infections, or antiviral drugs for severe viral infections.
Assist Your Cat with Grooming
Cats usually are meticulous about grooming themselves, but cats suffering from colds may require your assistance with difficult-to-reach places. An integrative veterinarian and expert in traditional and alternative veterinary treatment recommend cleaning their nasal passages and eyes with a clean, warm, damp towel.
Using a washcloth, gently massage your kitty’s face to clean out his mouth and nose. You can also use a bulb syringe from an infant to clear mucus from your cat’s nose. If you’re going to use the needle, be nice and don’t force it on your cat if she doesn’t want to.
Can Cats Catch a Cold from Humans?
Humans cannot give colds to cats. This is because most viruses are highly species-specific, and they will die if exposed to a new host. Some bacterial infections can be spread between humans and cats, but this is uncommon.
COVID-19 can infect cats and cause moderate symptoms; however, this is highly unusual. Feline coronavirus, which can cause the typically fatal disease feline infectious peritonitis, is far more dangerous to cats (FIP).
Can Cold Weather Make Cats Sick?
No, not at all. If your cat has no access to sufficient shelter and nutrition, cold weather can impair her immune system, putting her at risk of acquiring a cold. On the other hand, cold weather does not represent a risk for this sickness in a healthy, well-cared-for cat.
Can Supplements and Vitamins Help?
It’s unknown whether giving your cat vitamins or trying natural cat cold cures would help her get over her cold. Still, you can give her the following products if your veterinarian has given them the green light:
- Lysine: When a cat acquires the herpes virus (and the vast majority of cats have herpes dormant in their bodies), it stays in her system much as it does in humans. Your veterinarian may recommend lysine, an essential amino acid that serves as a building block for proteins to reduce virus multiplication. The typical dosage is 500 mg taken several times per day. Because tablets can be difficult to administer to cats, she prefers a gel formula. Most lysine-containing treats are insufficient and would take far too many treats to be effective.
- While vitamin C and apple cider vinegar are frequently mentioned on the internet, physicians do not suggest treating colds in cats.
Turn up the Temperature
Cats aren’t known for being aquatic animals, but spending five to ten minutes in a hot, steamy bathroom can help them open their airways. You can bring your cat into the washroom with you while you shower.
You don’t want to strain your cat out with at-home remedies, but if you can persuade your cat to hang out in a humid bathroom, that can assist open nasal passages while combating infection.
Put your cat near a humidifier for two or three days; try 30 minutes a day. It relieves congestion, precisely as it does in newborn babies.
Cats enjoy cuddling up to warm surfaces, so a heated cat bed or heating pad would seem like a natural choice to help her relax when she’s feeling under the weather.