Can Cats Get Colds?

Can Cats Get Colds?

As a devoted pet owner, it's natural to worry about your cat's health, especially when they're showing signs of illness. Just like humans, cats can catch colds. These are often referred to as “cat colds” or a feline upper respiratory infection (URI). 

Understanding the symptoms and knowing how to care for your furry friend when they're under the weather is crucial for their well-being.

Symptoms of a Cold in Cats

The symptoms of a cat cold are very similar to colds in humans. Recognizing symptoms of a URI in your cat is essential for prompt treatment and care. 

Common signs include:

  • Sneezing and Coughing: Just like humans, cats with colds usually sneeze and cough frequently.
  • Nasal Discharge and Watery Eyes: You might notice your cat's nose running or a watery discharge from their eyes.
  • Lethargy: Your kitty may appear more tired and less active than usual.
  • Loss of Appetite: Just like humans often eat and drink less when sick, your cat may not be interested in food.
  • Fever: A cat's normal body temperature ranges between 100.5° Fahrenheit to 102.5° Fahrenheit. If your cat's temperature exceeds this range, they may have a fever.

How Do Cats Get Colds?

These viruses are caused by bacteria or a virus. They’re contagious and can be easily spread between cats.

Cats can catch colds by coming into direct contact with other infected cats. This can happen through activities such as grooming, sharing food and water bowls, or close social interactions.

Sometimes viruses survive on surfaces such as food dishes, bedding, or litter boxes for a certain period. Cats can become infected if they indirectly come into contact with contaminated surfaces and then touch their noses or eyes.

Homes with multiple cats or environments with poor ventilation are especially vulnerable. Outdoor cats are also more likely to come in contact with other cats, making them at a higher risk as well. 

Preventing Cat Colds

While it’s not always possible to keep your cat from getting sick, prevention is always better than reaction. Preventing cat colds involves minimizing risk by reducing your cat's exposure to viruses and boosting their immune system. 

Keep Your Cat Indoors

If possible, keep your cat inside to reduce exposure to other sick cats. Indoor cats are generally at lower risk of contracting contagious illnesses than outdoor cats.

Maintain Cleanliness and Hygiene

A clean environment is especially important for multi-cat households or if you live in an apartment or shared housing where your cat may come into contact with other animals. 

Clean the litter box, bedding, food and water bowls, and toys regularly. Use pet-safe cleaners to sanitize surfaces and reduce the spread of germs.

If you’re bringing a new cat home from a shelter or your cat is returning from a boarding facility, consider cleaning any supplies that were sent along. It’s also best to isolate from other animals in your home temporarily. 

Proper Nutrition

Feed your cat a balanced diet that meets their nutritional needs and supports a healthy immune system. Opt for high-quality cat food with essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that can help keep your cat's immune system strong and resilient. 

Avoid a lot of artificial ingredients and fillers, as these can prevent your cat from getting the nutrition it needs. These artificial ingredients can also cause digestive issues in some cats, like diarrhea or constipation

Regular Exercise

Encourage regular exercise and play to keep your cat physically active and maintain a healthy weight. Exercise can help stimulate circulation and support immune function.

Consider investing in a variety of different toys, from balls and catnip mice to laser pointers and feather wands. Swapping these out can help keep your cat interested. 

Scratching posts, cat trees, and shelves your cat can jump and climb on are also great for exercise. 

Improve Gut Health

Science estimates that 70% or more of the immune system is in the gut, which means improving your cat’s microbiome may also help boost the immune system. 

Maya Pet is an all-natural gut health supplement for cats (and dogs). It contains 10 Smart StrainsTM of good bacteria that all work together and may help boost digestion, immune function, and overall wellness. 

Plus, unlike many other pet probiotics, it does not contain extra additives or artificial ingredients, so you can feel good about giving it to your furry friend. 

The supplement powder is easy to mix into your cat’s normal food, helping to support the immune system on a daily basis. 

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Caring for Your Cat with a Cold

If you suspect your cat has a cold, proper care can help them recover quickly and comfortably. 

Keep Them Warm And Comfortable 

Provide an extra blanket or heated bed to keep your sick cat comfortable while they recover. Fleece, sherpa fabric, and faux fur tend to be popular among cats. 

Look for blankets and bedding that are easily washable to help minimize contamination, especially if you have multiple cats. 

Provide Plenty of Fluids

Encourage your cat to drink water to stay hydrated. Staying hydrated is crucial for supporting your cat’s natural functions, especially when sick and losing fluids. 

Some cats are picky about water intake and may prefer using a pet water fountain rather than drinking out of a bowl.

You can also try offering wet food or diluting their dry food with water to increase their fluid intake. Mix in a little extra Maya Pet when they’re feeling under the weather, too, for an extra immune boost! 

Minimize Stress

Cats with colds may feel more stressed than usual. Extra stress may make it difficult for them to rest and allow their immune system to fight off the cold. 

Try to minimize stressors in their environment. Stick to typical routines as much as possible and avoid leaving for long periods of time. If you have young kids or other pets, try to minimize roughhousing and unwanted contact. 

Maintain Good Hygiene

Follow good hygiene practices after handling a sick cat to prevent spreading the virus to other cats or causing reinfection. 

Wash your hands regularly, especially after petting your kitty. Additionally, clean your cat's bedding and litter box regularly to minimize germs.

Isolate Sick Cats

If you have multiple cats and one becomes sick, isolate the sick cat in a separate room or carrier to prevent the spread of illness. 

It’s best to provide separate food and water dishes, litter boxes, and bedding for the sick cat to avoid any cross-contamination or accidental contact.  

Support Overall Wellness for Your Cat

While it's worrying to see your furry companion under the weather, with proper care and attention, most cats recover from colds without complications. If your cat's symptoms persist or worsen despite home care or they’re showing serious signs of distress (such as difficulty breathing or stopping eating), seek professional assistance.

By recognizing the signs of a cold, providing preventative and supportive care, and seeking help when needed, you can help your cat feel better and get back to its playful self in no time. 

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