Can cats get colds?

Yes, your cat can come down with a cold infection. Cat colds are upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs) caused by viruses.

Cold infections are more common during winter when multiple cats are kept indoors, such as in boarding houses or rescue homes.

Outdoor cats that meet others are also more likely to get the infection.

The symptoms of a cold in felines are similar to humans.

What causes feline colds

Common colds are due to infection with viruses such as feline herpesvirus and feline calicivirus.

Cold viruses, especially herpesvirus, are highly contagious and spread rapidly among cats living together in cat shelters or rescue.

The viruses take advantage of a lowered or suppressed immunity to cause an infection or symptoms of illness.

Just as in humans, a cat will carry the herpes virus without signs or symptoms of the infection. But when it experiences conditions that suppress or lower its immunity, it flares up, causing noticeable symptoms.

Your cat may experience lowered immunity due to exposure to adverse weather or temperature conditions. An illness or anything that causes physiological stress may also affect your pet’s immune status and provide an opportunity for a virus infection.

The virus causes irritation and inflammation of the linings of the nose and throat, leading to the typical symptoms of the infection.

Cold symptoms

The symptoms of cold in felines are similar to humans.

They include watery or mucous discharge from the nose and eyes, coughing, sneezing, loss of appetite, lethargy, and fever.

Usually, a healthy cat will recover within a week or two. But if the cat continues experiencing conditions that compromise immunity — such as getting its fur drenched on wet days — the immune system may become overwhelmed, leading to health complications.

While cats are highly adaptable creatures, tolerant of physiologically stressful conditions, they are susceptible to adverse weather conditions, especially low temperatures.

Your pet may experience hypothermia or frostbite when left outside near sub-zero Celsius temperatures.

How to prevent and treat colds

Vaccinate your pet to prevent infection or lower the severity of illness when it happens.

Ensuring good nutrition. Keeping your cat warm, comfortable, and free of stress during the winter season will reduce the risk of cold virus infections.

Your vet may prescribe antibiotics to ward off secondary bacterial infections.

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