Can cats catch colds? Yes.
Well, that was easy, see you all next article. What – oh. You’d like to know a little more about it then? You’re worried that you might give your cat a cold or vise versa? Or maybe when to be concerned enough to see a vet? Alright, everyone settle back down and put your seatbelts on. We’re going for a drive down Nitty Gritty… Drive.
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CAT COLD SYMPTOMS
When a cat gets a cold, they get all the same miserable symptoms that we do. Listing them would sound like a certain well-known commercial, if you catch my drift-quil, but we’re going to do right by y’all and lay them all out:
Sneezing – if you’re cat’s been sneezing frequently and/or in rapid succession, it could be a cold symptom. (Just check it’s not related to annoying allergies, stalking dustbunnies, or cat litter.)
Runny Eyes and/or Noses – If their eyes are tearing up or producing gunk, or they’ve got the nose waterworks, a cold is likely! (Unless, again, allergies.)
Listlessness and Lethargy – Inclined to curl up in blankets and not move all day – moreso than usual? Moving slowly, with little interest beyond sleeping? Okay, I’m describing myself with a cold, but it applies to cats as well.
Loss of Appetite – Not being interested in food is another tell-tale sign, so check their food bowls if you suspect a cold.
Low Grade Fever – Many people won’t want to take this step, but if you can get a reading: 103.5 F is where a fever starts for cats, per PetMD.com.
TREATMENT FOR YOUR CAT’S COLD
So you’ve checked our handy list of symptoms above and determined your cat is a miserable anger-floof with a cold. Great. Now what?
For the most part, you can do those little things for your cat that you do for yourself when you catch a cold. (EXCEPT for giving your cat OTC cold medication! Never give your cat any medication that has not been prescribed or recommended by your veterinarian.)
Make sure your cat is staying well-hydrated with access to plenty of fresh water.
Use a warm, soft washcloth or cotton ball to gently remove eye gunk and nasal discharge.
Encourage them to eat with tempting treats, like slightly warming their canned food.
Throw a steambath for your kitty to open their airways and make breathing easier.
Keep your cat warm, dry, and away from drafts: put an extra blanket in their favorite spot, and follow these other great tips.
In most cases, your cat should be frisky, fun, and down to run in a couple of days. Our tiny murder-friends tend to have stellar immune systems from evolving as predators, and a cold won’t usually keep them down for long. Unlike us humans who regularly drag a cold around for a week, inflicting congested grunts and potential infection on everyone around us.
However, if your cat is hiding, refusing food, has difficulty breathing, or becomes dehydrated, you should see a vet ASAP. This trip will determine what’s wrong with your cat, and take care of any additional treatment – like fluids or medication to help them recover.
WHAT CAUSED MY CAT’S COLD?
Just like in humans, a cat’s cold is caused by a number of different infectious particles; while it’s purely viral for humans, cats can end up with a cold due to both viruses and bacteria. You can read all about them and their fancy names over at Pet Health Network’s Feline Upper Respiratory Infection page. The two most common causes are FVC and feline herpesvirus.
Cats catch colds from other cats, and are especially vulnerable when their immune system is stressed due to, well, stress. Our giant orange tabby gentleman, Tiger Jack, came home to us as a kitten from an animal shelter – cute as a button, and sick as a sneeze. He was so very sneezy, having picked up a cold at the shelter.
Cats can be infected directly – like being sneezed on by another cat – or indirectly by bedding or food sources and such used by a sick cat. Cats also tend to have colds in the winter time, when the cold weather has leeched the edge from our immune systems and we spend so much time breathing stale indoor air.
Luckily – you just hoped here was one luckily, didn’t you? – luckily, there’s one good thing to this misery of colds: you can’t catch your cat’s cold. Nope! And your cat can’t catch your cold, either! So you and the anger-floof can curl up and be miserable together, if you’re both sporting colds, while you bingewatch whatever and your cat is bingecuddled. Misery shared is misery halved and all that, especially when it involves your best kitty.