Can My Cat Catch a Cold?

If you are like me, you probably have never had a cat with a cold, but cats with colds are fairly common.

How does a cat get a cold? The first thought that comes to mind is “can my cat catch my cold?”

The answer to that is no and “no” you cannot catch your cat’s cold. It is said that cold viruses are species-specific, which means pets and humans cannot pass a cold back and forth.

While we can (for the most part) “doctor” our colds with over-the-counter remedies, our cats cannot.

A cold is serious business for a cat and even more serious if you have a multiple cat household.

Oddly enough, your cat’s symptoms will be very similar to yours, sneezing, runny nose, coughing, wheezing and sometimes a mucous discharge either from its nose or mouth. It is also possible for your cat to have a breathing problem, cold sore type ulcers around it mouth and red teary eyes that have a discharge.

Cat colds are very contagious and interestingly, cats are more susceptible to colds in the summer time.

Where can your cat pick up a cold?

At a boarding kennel, the groomers, at your vets and if your cat is an indoor/outdoor cat, it can pick up the virus from any cat it encounters outside.

What can you do for your cat’s cold?

First of all do not try any human over-the-counter remedies. Usually a cat cold lasts just about as long as a human cold (7 to 10 days) and the cat will get over it just as we do.

Where it gets complicated is, if the viral infection travels to the lungs or bronchial area causing a lower respiratory infection or if a secondary bacterial infection occurs in the nose, mouth or eye area.

This is why at the first sign your cat is coming down with a cold, you should call your vet. This ounce of prevention can honestly save you many vet dollars, should the cold develop into something more serious.

Once a cat gets a respiratory infection it is possible that it will re-occur time and time again (like the proverbial bad penny.)

Another important thing to take under consideration is cats smell their food before they eat it. This is normal cat behavior and if your cat has a stuffy nose, it cannot smell its food.

What happens when a cat can’t smell its food?

The cat will not eat or even drink. The cat becomes dehydrated and starts using up its own fat stores for energy.

A cat needs to eat and drink (most canned cat food provides not only nutrition, but water,) the result of not eating can cause a condition known as hepatic lipidosis or fatty liver syndrome, which can be life threatening.

This is why, if your cat shows any sign of a cold or stops eating for any reason call your vet at once.

I can’t say this enough, that one simple phone call may save you many future vet dollars.

A cat’s cold can be a simple runny nose (wipe it with a warm wet washcloth, cats can’t blow) and require nothing more than some TLC from you, but check with your vet first.

There are two types of viruses that can cause a cat to have cold like symptoms, the first is felline herpesvirus (FHV) and feline calicivirus (FCV). Keep up all of your cat’s recommended vaccinations as the vaccine for FHV and FCV is given at regular intervals.

Keeping your cat indoors is truly the best way to protect your cat from being the recipient of “what is going around.”