Sneezing and watery eyes are early signs of a cat's cold. Our Brighton veterinarians explain the symptoms and what you can do to help your cat.
Feline Upper Respiratory Infection
Similar to a human head cold, feline upper respiratory infections, also known as 'cat colds,' are caused by a variety of bacteria or viruses, with varying symptoms and severity. There is no cure for a cat cold, just as there is no cure for a human cold, but you can help your cat by reducing the symptoms.
Cat colds are rarely fatal, but they can become severe in some cases, leading to a more serious secondary infection. If your cat shows signs of a cold, it's critical to keep a close eye on them, especially if they're young or elderly.
Typical Symptoms of a Cat Cold
The first symptoms you'll notice in your cat are red watery eyes, sneezing, and snorting to relieve congestion.
Other signs and symptoms, which may appear within a day of the initial symptoms, may include:
- Runny nose
- Excessive sneezing
- Occasional coughing
- Mild fever
- Congestion leading to open mouth breathing
- Loss of appetite
How Cats Catch Colds
Cat colds cannot be contracted by humans, but they can be easily spread from one cat to another. Viral and bacterial colds can spread between cats through sneezing droplets, which is how they usually get them in the first place. With so much exposure to other cats, outdoor cats are more likely to catch a cold than indoor cats.
If your cat recently boarded and now has a cold, he or she was probably exposed to an ill cat while in the boarding facility. You can reduce your cat's risk of getting feline upper respiratory infections by using a reputable boarding company.
What to do if Your Cat Has a Cold
You can assist your sick cat by increasing the humidity in your home with a humidifier or vaporizer. Cover your cat's favorite resting spots with a blanket to keep them warm.
If your cat has a stuffy nose, gently wipe it with a clean damp cloth or warm-water-soaked cotton balls. Your cat will have difficulty smelling and tasting food and may stop eating if it has a stuffy nose. You may need to warm up your cat's food or purchase special wet cat food to get him to eat.
If your cat's eyes are red, inflamed, and discharge is clear, cleanse and soothe them with a saline solution and gauze pads. If the discharge becomes yellow, green, or viscous, contact your veterinarian.
Signs That It's Time To Visit the Vet
Colds in cats usually last 7-10 days and are harmless. If your cat has been sick for four days and shows no signs of improvement, take them to the vet.
Untreated upper respiratory infections can lead to pneumonia. Contact your veterinarian if you have a senior cat, a young kitten, or an immune-compromised cat.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.