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

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

Cats can catch colds just like people, displaying similar symptoms such as sneezing and a runny nose. Here, our Poway vets talk about causes and when to seek veterinary care.


How did my cat catch a cold?

Sneezing and sniffles are signs that your cat has a cold, but you may be wondering how it happened in the first place. And, more importantly, how you can avoid it in the future.

Just like colds in humans, cat colds are contagious. This means that outdoor cats are more likely to find themselves with the cold virus than an indoor cat because they are more likely to interact with other cats.

Cat colds are an upper respiratory infection (URI) caused by bacteria or a virus. It is not contagious for humans, but easily transmits between cats, especially in compact conditions. So if you've boarded your cat recently and they now have a cold, it's likely your pet was near another cat suffering from a cold.

Choosing a reputable boarding provider will reduce the chances of increasing your pet's stress levels, and will make it less likely for your cat to develop a URI. 

Cat Colds: Signs & Symptoms

  • sneezing
  • sniffles
  • watery eyes
  • runny nose
  • mild fever
More Severe Symptoms
  • reduced appetite
  • coughing

How to Care for Your Sick Cat

If your cat has a cold, you can help them feel less uncomfortable by wiping their runny nose with a clean cloth, and runny eyes with a cloth and saline solution. You can also run a humidifier so the air isn't too dry.

If your cat seems to be stuffed up, making breathing a little difficult, secure them in their pet carrier, put a bowl of hot water in front of the cage, and cover both with a blanket for about 15 minutes.

It's important for your cat to continue to eat and drink so they can get better quicker. Food that is warmed up and easier to swallow might make this process more appealing for them. They also need to stay warm, so place an extra blanket in their bed or favorite area to curl up.

Do not ever give human cold medication (or any medication without the advice of your vet) to your cat. Always speak with your vet to see what they recommend for your pet.

When to Seek Veterinary Care

In most cases, cat colds are harmless and will go away within 1-2 weeks. You do need to monitor their health however, and if there is no sign of improvement by the fourth day, you should make an appointment with your vet as a persisting cold that does not get treated properly may develop into pneumonia.

As with humans, it's important to be careful with older cats, kittens, and cats with other conditions that may make them more susceptible to the effects of a cold. This is especially true of cats that are nursing, or that haven't been vaccinated. If your cat falls into one of these categories, make an appointment immediately.

In any case, if your cat begins coughing, has difficulty breathing, or stops eating, they need to see a vet as soon as possible.

If you are concerned about your cat's cold or displaying concerning symptoms outside of your vet's regular business hours contact our Poway emergency clinic right away.

Experienced Emergency Vet Care in Poway

Animal Emergency Clinic of San Diego is a family-run after-hours and critical care hospital, providing veterinary emergency care since 1985. If your pet is experiencing an emergency, contact us to get the help your pet needs.

Contact Us

(858) 748-7387