Do Cats Get Colds?

It is not uncommon for cats to come down with a cold every now and then.  The symptoms of such a cold will be very similar to the symptoms humans experience when they have a cold.  Your cat may exhibit the following symptoms:  sneezing, coughing, wheezing, runny nose or mouth, mucous discharge, breathing problems, cold sores, and/or red teary eyes with discharge.  Cat colds are very contagious and interestingly enough cats are more susceptible to catching them during the summertime.

However, don’t fret if you have a cold.  Your cat cannot contract a cold that way.  The cold virus is species specific which means pets and humans cannot pass a cold back and forth to each other.  Your cat can however pick up a cold from the kennel, vet, groomers, or if it is an indoor/outdoor cat it can pick up the virus if it encounters a cat with a cold outside.  Cold’s are serious in cats, and especially in multiple cat households.

While we can take medication for our colds to better ourselves, cats cannot.  Then what can you do for your cat?  First of all, never try using human over the counter remedies.  These are dangerous to the cat and can be fatal.  Usually a cat’s cold lasts for about the same amount of time as a human cold (7-10 days) and they will eventually get over it as we do.

However this is not to say that a cat with a cold should just be overlooked and or left untreated.  As mentioned before, colds in cats can be very serious and are very contagious to other cats.  If the viral infection travels to the lungs or bronchial area it can cause a lower respiratory infection or a secondary infection can occur in the mouth, nose or eyes.  Once a cat gets  a respiratory infection it is possible for it to reoccur time and again. This is why it is important to contact your pet’s veterinarian at the first sign of a cold.  This can prevent the cold from turning into something more serious and can also save you lots of costly vet bills in the long run.

A more serious upper respiratory infection would have the following symptoms:  fever, enlarged lymph nodes, yellow or green discharge from the eyes and nose, and loss of appetite.  Antibiotics from a vet would be necessary to treat this infection.  If your cat is experiencing any cold like symptoms or the previously listed more dangerous symptoms it needs to be seen by a vet immediately.

Another reason it is important to get your cat to a veterinarian sooner rather than later is because a cat smells their food before eating it.  If your cat has a cold he will not be able to smell his food and he  will stop eating or drinking.  This can cause dehydration to occur and the cat will start using its own fat stores for energy.  This is really not good for kitty’s health.  A cat needs to eat and drink because if it does not it can come down with a condition known as hepatic lipidosis also known as fatty liver syndrome, which in turn can become life threatening.  If your cat shows any signs of not eating or drinking, do not wait, call your vet immediately.

There are two types of viruses that can cause a cat to have cold like symptoms.  The first is known as feline herpesvirus (FHV) and the second is feline calcivirus (FCV).  Keeping your cat up to date on its vaccinations is important as there are vaccines for both FHV and FCV that can be given at regular intervals.  Keeping your cat indoors is also the smartest way to ensure your cat will not get sick.

A cat’s runny nose or drippy eyes can be wiped with a warm washcloth and giving them a little extra loving care can help too.  However again this does not cure kitty completely, it just helps make him or her more comfortable, so checking with your vet is the number one thing to do here to ensure your cat can make a speedy recovery without any lasting medical problems.

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