Do cats catch colds?

“I have a cold…can my cat catch cold too?” The answer is actually yes and no! Yes, a cat can catch cold but no, your pet cannot catch cold from you. Colds are viral infections and the viruses that cause colds are species specific. It means that the virus that has caused your cold cannot infect your cat and the virus that is causing the cat’s cold cannot be transmitted to you. The viruses that infect cats are different from the viruses that infect humans. Similar to human colds, cat colds are highly contagious. In a multi-cat household, a cat with colds can easily spread the infection to other pet cats.

How do cats catch cold? The viruses that cause cats to have colds are airborne. Cats can also get the virus from contaminated water. Colds are typically not a serious concern but this viral infection spreads easily. The cat can catch cold from kennels. A sick cat at the groomers can spread the infection. Cats can even catch cold from the vet’s. As the virus that causes feline colds is specie specific, cats can catch cold in any place where there are cats.

How would a cat owner know that the pet has colds? Feline cold symptoms are similar to the symptoms of human colds. Cats have the propensity to sneeze but excessive sneezing is an indication that the cat has a cold. Cats with colds would have red teary eyes. Some cats would have a nasal mucus discharge. The cat can have fever as well. Just as in humans, feline cold is not really dangerous. Humans and cats can catch cold all the time. Generally, cats would not be affected by the infection. If the pet is its usual self…eating and drinking normally, all the owner needs to do is to wipe the discharge and the mucus off the pet’s nose and to make the pet as comfortable as possible. Cats with severe cold cannot smell and cats that cannot smell would not eat and may not even drink. This can lead to dehydration. Cats cannot blow their noses. Placing the pet in a steamy bathroom would help to decongest the nose. Although human colds and feline colds have similar symptoms, cat parents should never administer human medications to the pet. If the cold of the pet persists for over a week, it has to have medical attention especially if it is not eating well and is having breathing difficulties. Colds can progress into upper respiratory infection where the pet is weighed down not only with viral infection but with bacterial infection as well. A cold that has progressed into upper respiratory infection would cause the cat to have high temperature and to have enlarged lymph nodes. Instead of clear discharge, the pet would have greenish to yellowish discharge from the eyes and nose. Medications are not needed for viral infections but antibiotics would be necessary to fight the bacterial infection.

The flu and cold season for humans is during the cold months. Surprisingly, cold season for cats happens during the summertime. Cat’s cold is caused by the feline herpesvirus (FHV) and feline calicivirus (FCV). These viruses are airborne. Cat owners that do not allow the pet to mingle with other cats would be surprised if the pet catches cold. The best protection a cat owner can give is to have the pet vaccinated against these two diseases. Indoor cats are less susceptible but since it is impossible to filter the air that gets inside the home vaccination will be the pet’s first line of defense against these viruses.