Cats and the Common Cold

Cats can get both the common cold and the flu, but not the human versions; they have their own feline viruses. The symptoms to look for are described below. If your cat experiences any symptom for more than a day or two, he may have a cold.

Common Cold Symptoms: Sneezing, runny nose, coughing, wheezing, mouth or nasal discharge, respiratory problems, oral ulcers or conjunctivitis (eye discharge).

Like with us, upper respiratory infections are extremely contagious and it’s quite probable that all cats in a household will be infected at the same time. In the air, the virus lasts between a few hours or a few weeks. In a cat, the virus can last a lot longer in latent or potent form. In fact, many cats carry the virus for their entire lives, experiencing flare-ups during times of stress or when their immune system is weak.

Treatment: If you suspect that your cat has a cold, you must take him to the vet immediately. It’s not necessarily the cold that’s the problem, but cats are extremely vulnerable to picking up a secondary infection that can be more serious and/or lead to a chronic illness. Many cats with a cold will have decreased appetite. Cats that don’t eat for a day or two are at risk of hepatic lipidosis, a very serious illness.

The popular treatment is usually a coarse of drug therapy (antibiotics, decongestants or antiviral medications), rest, foods and liquids. You may be advised to take your kitty into the bathroom with you to use a humidifier.

If, after a few weeks, your cat is not feeling better, or if the meds have finished but he’s still experiencing symptoms, he must go back to the vet for more tests. He may need X-rays of the skull to determine whether there has been damage to the nasal passages from the infection. A nasal flush will be undertaken to collect matter from the nasal cavity to be analyzed to determine what is causing the prolonged infection.

Prevention: Keep your cat inside and away from sick animals. Keep your pet’s food and water bowls clean. Keep your home as clean as possible. Keep the temperature of your home above 70 degrees. If your cat gets wet, dry him off and ensure he stays warm as he dries. You can also talk to your vet to see if there are vaccinations that can prevent infections.

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