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Cats & Colds: Can They Get Them & What to Do?

Is your cat sneezing and sniffling lately? Are you worried that your cat might have a cold? Our La Pine veterinarians have provided some tips on what actions you can take if your cat is sick. Read on to learn more.


Can cats get a cold?

If you notice that your furry feline friend has a runny nose, watery eyes, and is constantly sniffling, you may be wondering if your cat has caught a cold. You might also be wondering how it happened and how you can prevent it in the future. 

Cat colds are contagious, meaning outdoor cats are more likely to catch them since they interact with other cats more often than indoor cats. A virus or bacteria cause these colds and are similar to human colds. However, they are not contagious to humans. 

If you have boarded your cat recently and now have a cold, they were likely near another cat suffering from the same cold. Choosing a reputable boarding provider can help reduce your pet's stress levels, which can lower their chances of developing a URI. 

At La Pine Animal Hospital, we treat your pet as our own. Whether your pet needs boarding while you're out of town or is recovering from a medical procedure, we offer a safe and comfortable home away from home for your furry friend.

Cat Colds: Signs & Symptoms 

Many people come to us wondering if their cat has a cold. Here are some common signs that your feline friend may be feeling unwell:

  • Mild fever
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Sniffles
  • Red, watery eyes 
  • Congestion leading to open-mouth breathing
  • Dehydration
  • Loss of appetite 

More Severe Symptoms

  • Coughing
  • Reduced appetite 

Does my cat have allergies or a cold?

If you notice your cat is sneezing and sniffing, you might be confused whether it's due to allergies or a cold. The symptoms of allergies and a cold are quite similar, such as watery eyes, sneezing, and coughing. However, allergies are usually a chronic issue that persists over time or reoccurs during a particular instance.

For instance, if your cat is allergic to a component of their litter, you might notice they sneeze while using the litter box. Additionally, allergies can cause symptoms like digestive upset (bloating, gas), or skin irritation and itchiness, which are not commonly associated with colds.

If your cat is experiencing any of these symptoms and you are not sure of the cause, it is always best to take them to a vet for a check-up.

How should I care for my sick cat?

If you think your cat is sick, it's best to take them to a veterinarian to find out what's causing their illness. If the vet diagnoses your cat with a cold, there are things you can do to help them feel better. 

To ease your cat's discomfort, you can wipe their runny nose with a clean cloth and clean their runny eyes with a saline solution. Running a humidifier can also help to keep the air from getting too dry.

If your cat is having trouble breathing due to congestion, you can help them by placing them in a pet carrier and putting a bowl of hot water in front of the cage, then covering both with a blanket for about 15 minutes. This should help to alleviate their symptoms.

Your cat must keep eating and drinking while they are recovering in order to speed up the healing process. To make their food more appetizing, you can try warming it up and making it easier for them to swallow. Furthermore, ensure your cat stays comfortable and warm by placing extra blankets in their bed or favorite spot where they like to curl up.

Never give your cat human cold medication (or any medication without consulting your vet). Always speak with your vet to see what they recommend for your pet, as they can give you more personalized advice based on factors such as your cat's age, health status, and other unique considerations.

When to Seek Veterinary Care

Cat colds are usually harmless and will go away within 1-2 weeks. However, their health will need to be monitored. If there is no sign of improvement by the fourth day, we recommend making an appointment with your vet for an examination, as a persistent cold that does not get treated properly may develop into pneumonia.

Like humans, it is important to care extra for older cats, kittens, and cats with pre-existing conditions that may make them more vulnerable to colds. This is particularly important for cats that are nursing or have not been vaccinated. If your cat falls into any of these categories, you should immediately make an appointment with a veterinarian.

If your cat begins coughing, has difficulty breathing, or stops eating, this is considered a veterinary emergency, and you need to see a vet as soon as possible.

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. 

Is your cat exhibiting signs of a cold that worry you? Schedule an appointment with our veterinarians in La Pine to get your feline friend checked out.

New Patients Welcome

We are accepting new patients to our La Pine vet clinic. Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of all pets in Central Oregon. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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