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Could Your Cat Have a Cold?

March 1, 2021

Did you know that our feline friends can get their own version of colds or flus? In many cases, cats just feel a bit stuffy and fatigued for a few days before recovering on their own. However, kitty colds can occasionally develop into upper respiratory infections, or URIs, which can be extremely dangerous. Senior cats and kittens are especially at risk, because of their weaker immune systems. A Newburgh vet discusses cat colds below.

Warning Signs

Keep an eye out for warning signs. Lethargy is a common one. If Fluffy is stuffed up, she may sleep even more than usual. A few other red flags include coughing, sneezing, fever, runny nose, watery eyes, loss of appetite or thirst, wheezing, and/or difficulty breathing. Contact your Newburgh vet right away if you notice any of these symptoms.


Once Fluffy has been properly diagnosed, your Newburgh vet will be able to give you specific treatment options. These may include antibiotics and/or other medications. You should never give Fluffy human medications, unless your vet specifically instructs you to. This applies to home remedies as well. Things like garlic, whiskey, and turmeric, which are in many of Grandma’s old home remedies, might work for us but can be extremely dangerous for our furry friends!

Home Care

When she’s feeling under the weather, Fluffy may enjoy a bit of chicken soup. Skip the garlic, onions, rice, and pasta, though: warm, sodium-free chicken broth with some plain, boneless chicken (and perhaps some peas and carrots) is fine. Some kitties like having their canned food warmed up a bit. You can also use a humidifier and/or bring your feline pal into the bathroom while you shower, so she can breathe the steam. You may want to get your cat a new bed or a comfy throw blanket to curl up in. You’ll also need to make sure your furry buddy is drinking lots of water. Of course, extra cuddles and ear scratches are on the agenda as well.

Preventing Colds

As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. First and foremost, keep up with Fluffy’s vaccinations, such as the vaccine for feline calicivirus. Keep in mind that cats can still spread the virus even after they have recovered. Keeping your kitty indoors will reduce the odds of her coming into contact with other infected felines.

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Can cats catch colds similar to humans, and what are their typical symptoms?

Cats can catch colds similar to humans, but different viruses, such as the feline herpesvirus and calicivirus, cause them. Typical symptoms include sneezing, coughing, runny nose, watery eyes, fever, lethargy, and loss of appetite. While these symptoms are usually mild and can resolve independently, they can sometimes lead to more severe conditions like upper respiratory infections, especially in kittens and senior cats with weaker immune systems. Cat owners must monitor these symptoms closely and consult a veterinarian if they persist or worsen.

What treatment options might a vet recommend for a cat with a cold?

For a cat with a cold, a veterinarian might recommend various treatments depending on the severity and underlying cause of the symptoms. Mild cases may require supportive care, such as ensuring the cat stays hydrated, offering highly palatable food, and using a humidifier to ease breathing. Antibiotics may be prescribed for more severe cases or those caused by bacterial infections. Antiviral medications could be considered for viral infections. Additionally, the vet might suggest decongestants or anti-inflammatory drugs to alleviate symptoms. Never giving a cat human medications without a vet’s direction is crucial, as many are toxic to cats.

What are some safe home care remedies for a cat with a cold?

Safe home care remedies for a cat with a cold include offering a warm, quiet place to rest, ensuring they stay hydrated, and providing moist, highly palatable food to encourage eating. Warm sodium-free chicken broth can help with hydration and appetite. Using a humidifier in the room or taking the cat into a steamy bathroom can ease congestion. Gently wiping away any nasal or eye discharge with a soft, damp cloth can keep them comfortable. Always avoid human medications and consult a vet for treatments beyond supportive care.

What preventive measures can pet owners take to protect their cats from colds?

To protect cats from colds, pet owners should ensure their pets are up to date on vaccinations, including those for common respiratory pathogens like feline herpesvirus and calicivirus. Maintaining a clean, stress-free environment and avoiding contact with sick cats are crucial steps. Regular veterinary check-ups help identify and address any health issues early. Keeping cats indoors can reduce exposure to infectious agents. Lastly, a balanced diet and clean water support a robust immune system, safeguarding them against colds and other illnesses.

Why is vaccination important in preventing colds in cats, and how does keeping a cat indoors help?

Vaccination is critical in preventing cat colds by building immunity against common respiratory viruses such as feline herpesvirus and calicivirus. These vaccinations help reduce the severity and frequency of infections, safeguarding cats from potentially serious complications. Keeping cats indoors further minimizes their exposure to infectious agents carried by other animals and the environment. Indoor living reduces the risk of physical altercations and stress-related immune suppression, creating a healthier lifestyle that significantly lowers the likelihood of respiratory infections.

Do you have questions about cat colds? Contact us, your Newburgh, NY vet clinic, today!