Upper Respiratory Infections in Cats
Feline Upper Respiratory Infections, or ‘cat colds’, can be caused by several different bacteria or viruses, similar to a human head cold, and the symptoms and severity can vary. Like with humans, there is no cure for a cat cold, although you can help your cat by lessening the symptoms.
Cat colds are generally not considered life-threatening, however, in some cases, symptoms may become severe and lead to a more serious secondary infection. It is important to closely monitor your cat if they show signs of a cold, especially very young, or senior cats.
How Cats Catch Colds
Feline Upper Respiratory Infections are not contagious to humans but are easily transmissible among cats. Cat colds can be viral or bacterial and are commonly passed between cats through the droplets spread by sneezing. Outdoor cats are much more susceptible to catching a cold due to their frequent contact with other cats.
If you have recently boarded your cat, and they now have symptoms of a cold, it's likely your pet was exposed to another cat suffering from a cold. Choosing a reputable boarding provider will make it less likely for your cat to develop feline upper respiratory infections.
Signs of a Cat Cold
The first symptoms that will be noticeable in your cat are red watery eyes, sneezing, and snorting to clear the congestion.
Other symptoms that may appear within 24 hours after the first symptoms start are:
- Runny nose
- Excessive sneezing
- Occasional coughing
- Mild fever
- Open mouth breathing
- Loss of appetite
When to Visit the Vet
Most cat colds last about seven to ten days and are generally not serious. If your cat has been suffering from cold-like symptoms and shows no sign of improvement within 4 days, it may be time to visit the vet.
Some upper respiratory diseases can be serious and may lead to pneumonia if not closely monitored. It is particularly important to contact your vet if you have a senior cat, young kitten, or immune-compromised cat.
How You Can Help Your Cat Feel Better
While your cat is sick, you can help by keeping a humidifier or vaporizer running to increase the humidity in your house. Add an extra blanket to your cat's favorite resting spots to help keep your cat stay warm and comfortable.
If your cat has a stuffy nose use a clean damp cloth or some cotton balls soaked in warm water to gently wipe your cat's nose. While your cat's nose is stuffy she/he will have difficulty smelling and tasting food and may stop eating. You may need to warm up your cat's food or buy some extra special wet cat food to encourage your cat to eat.
If your cat's eyes are red and inflamed and the discharge is clear you can cleanse and soothe your cat's watery eyes by applying a saline solution with gauze pads. You should contact your vet if the discharge becomes yellow, green, or thick.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. Please make an appointment with your vet for an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition.