Health Symptoms & Solutions Humans Catch The Flu— But Can Cats Get Colds?

Humans Catch The Flu— But Can Cats Get Colds?

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Yes, cats can catch colds, just like humans. Although in this case it is referred to as feline upper respiratory infection. This actually happens frequently, complete with the characteristic symptoms like sneezing, coughs, nasal discharge and fever.

Note that this is not the same common cold viruses that we get, though they have similar signs. Many of the infections are caused by the feline herpesvirus and feline calicivirus.

Signs That Answer Can Cats Get Colds

In addition to coughs, a runny nose, and watery eyes, there can also be dehydration. Cats also experience ulceration on their nose, eyes or mouth, and congestion in the nasal cavity.

This is where you will see your cat breathing through the open mouth. There may also be discharges from the eyes and nose, and Kitty may lose her appetite.

Diagnosing and Treating Feline Colds

In case there are ulcers in the cat’s mouth, the vet can take cultures to examine them and deliver a definite diagnosis. For the treatment, it’s usually left to the cat’s own immunity to battle the virus. The vet may recommend eye ointments, or oral medication that will stimulate the immune system.

As the cats get older, they build up resistance against it, but more cases will be triggered due to poor appetite, stress, or when the cats contract other illnesses.

Antibiotics may be provided, but these don’t fight the viruses, but rather help in avoiding complications from opportunistic bacterial infections that would take advantage of the cat’s weakened immune system.

Note that even after the cat is cured, the virus doesn’t truly ever leave the cat’s body. Thus, the sickness can and is likely to recur.

Black cat lying on white textile. Part of the "Humans Are Used To The Flu— But Can Cats Get Colds?" article.
Photo by Ben Moll on Unsplash

How Long Does The Cold Last?

Usually, it takes 7-10 days to work through your cat’s system. During this time, it will be easy for the cat to spread infections to other pets in the household, especially with the wet sneezes.

It is transmitted through saliva droplets or eye discharge from an infected cat. Kittens are at a higher risk of contracting the infection, plus older cats that have compromised immune systems.

Helping Kitty Battle Cat Flu

There are certain measures that you can take to manage the cold symptoms and speed up the recovery. Firstly, ensure that Kitty has lots of food and water.

There are cases where you’ll need to force-feed your pet. This is especially the case with the clogged nasal passages affecting her sense of smell. It facilitates the cat’s resistance to normal eating. Slightly warming the cat food beforehand also helps with stimulating the appetite.

You can remove the discharge to help clear the nasal passage, and use a nasal decongestant. But, it’s advisable to consult your vet regarding the right product to get for this. Always wash your hands afterwards.

Never give the cat human medicine. Also avoid moving Kitty around when she has the flu, as it can lead to joint and muscle pain.


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