Your cat has a cold? Take care of your sick pet this way

Szénási Szimonetta

2024. January 19 - Photos: Getty Images Hungary

"Cat cold" is a general term that refers to a group of symptoms in our pets. Similar to the common cold in humans, it is usually caused by a virus.


Below, we detail what symptoms your cat may have if it has a cold and what you can do to help.

Symptoms of the cold

Just like in humans, cats may experience sneezing, runny nose, eye discharge, lethargy, and sometimes fever with the illness. In most cases, these symptoms resolve on their own within 7-10 days, but sometimes various complications can occur, as shared by experts on the PetMD veterinary website.

Secondary bacterial infections and pneumonia may also occur. If you notice yellowish-green discharge from your pet’s nose and/or eyes, it’s a warning sign. Moreover, due to the accumulated discharge, the animal may lose its sense of smell and taste, which is very uncomfortable for them, and they may often reject food as a result. This further weakens them.

When can a cat catch a cold?

As with any illness, prevention is the best method, so let’s talk about how cats can catch a cold. The most common causes of colds are various viruses. It is estimated that in about 90% of cases, feline herpesvirus and feline calicivirus are responsible.

Feline Herpesvirus (FHV)

Feline herpesvirus (or Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis) is extremely contagious. It usually occurs in situations where multiple cats live together or come into close contact, such as in shelters or colonies.

Similar to human herpesvirus infection, infected cats carry the virus for life. Many cats have dormant periods when the virus is not actively replicating, and during these times, they may appear completely healthy. After stressful events that suppress the immune system, such as when a cat moves to a new place, the virus can become active, causing symptoms like sneezing or eye discharge for a few days.

Both viruses are highly contagious.

Calicivirus in cats

Cats infected with calicivirus show very similar symptoms to those with herpesvirus, and they also carry the virus throughout their lives. The two diseases also share the characteristic of being extremely contagious.

Fortunately, both virus infections are specific to cats and harmless to humans. Additionally, vaccines are available for both viruses. While the vaccine does not completely prevent infection, it can help reduce symptoms and prevent severe illnesses.

What can the vet do?

If your cat is still healthy, consult with your veterinarian about the mentioned vaccines. If you observe the symptoms listed above in your pet, the doctor can make a diagnosis after a thorough examination. This may include taking blood samples and, in some cases, X-rays.

The vet will carry out a comprehensive examination.

What can you do as an owner?

Mild cases usually do not require medical treatment, but you can alleviate your sick cat’s discomfort with some home remedies.

One option is humidification. You can help your congested cat by bringing it into the bathroom while you shower. The warm steam helps clear the airways.

If the air in your home is too dry (common in winter almost everywhere), cold humidification can be the solution.

Provide peace for your cat! Stress hinders recovery, while a peaceful, quiet environment speeds up the process. Set up a recovery area for the cat with a comfortable, warm bed, litter, and possibly pheromone products. During recovery, the cat can also eat there, and make sure to monitor the water bowl continuously.

In severe cases or in the case of secondary infection, antibiotics may be necessary. Always follow the doctor’s instructions for dosage. If the cat has difficulty breathing or completely refuses to eat, hospitalization may be necessary for a few days. The vet will decide on this.

As mentioned, in milder cases, cats usually recover within 7-10 days, but due to complications, your cat may be unwell for a longer period.

Disease Health sick cat the cat is cold

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