Similar to people, cats can catch colds and exhibit some of the same symptoms, including a runny nose and sneezing. Here, our Boulder and Westminster vets talk about cat colds, including how kitties can catch them and when you should take your feline companion to visit the vet. 

Can cats get a cold?

Has your cat been sniffling and sneezing? If so, they may have a cold. You might be wondering how they caught it, and, more importantly, how you can prevent it from happening again. 

Just like colds are contagious in humans, the same is true for cats. This leaves outdoor cats at a higher risk of catching the cold virus than indoor cats, since they are more likely to come into contact with other cats. 

Cat colds are caused by a bacterial or viral upper respiratory infection (URI). While they cannot be transmitted to humans, they can easily spread among cats, especially in close quarters. So, if you recently boarded your cat and they caught a cold, chances are they were in close proximity to another cat who caught a cold. 

Today, we'll discuss cat colds, signs to watch for, what to do if you suspect your cat has a cold, and when to seek veterinary care. We'll also explain how choosing a reputable boarding company can help if you must board your cat for any reason. 

Cat Colds: Signs & Symptoms

Here are some common symptoms of cat colds to look out for in your kitty:

  • Mild fever 
  • Runny nose 
  • Watery eyes 
  • Sneezing
  • Sniffles

More Severe Symptoms 

  • Coughing
  • Reduced Appetite 

Does my cat have allergies or a cold?

Determining whether your cat has allergies or a cold based on symptoms alone can be challenging. Cats with allergies commonly experience symptoms such as sneezing, itching, and watery eyes. On the other hand, a cold can also cause similar symptoms, but may additionally include nasal congestion and discharge.

If you are uncertain about something, you should seek guidance from a veterinarian. They can provide you with an accurate diagnosis and suggest suitable treatment options.

What to Do If Your Cat Has a Cold 

If you suspect your cat has caught a cold, wiping their runny nose with a clean cloth, and their runny eyes with a cloth and a saline solution, may help keep them comfortable. You might also consider turning on a humidifier so the air isn't too dry. 

If your cat appears to be congested or stuffed up, they may find it somewhat more difficult to breathe. Secure them in their pet carrier and place a bowl of hot water in front of the cage. Cover both with a blanket for about 15 minutes. 

It's critical that your cat keeps eating and drinking so that they can continue to absorb nutrients and recover as quickly as possible. Warming their food may make it more appealing and easier to chew. Make sure your cat is warm—place an extra blanket in their bed or favorite spot for them to curl up on. 

Never give your cat cold medication intended for people (or any medication without your vet's advice). Always speak with your vet to find out what they recommend for your pet's illness. 

When should I take my cat to the vet?

Most of the time, 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 can lead to pneumonia.

As with humans, older cats, kittens, and cats with other conditions that make them more susceptible to the effects of a cold should be handled with caution. This is especially true of nursing or unvaccinated cats. If your cat falls into one of these categories, schedule an appointment right away.

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

Are you concerned about your cat's cold symptoms? Contact our Boulder and Westminster vets today for 24/7 care for your furry friend.