I Might Be Dying, Can My Cat Catch My Cold?

Can my Cat Catch my Cold?

I’m not sure how I managed to bust out a tongue twister like ‘can my cat catch my cold’ in the state I’m in. You know what it’s like, one minute you’re fine, then something funky starts going on in your throat then WHAM. Your entire head is clogged and your ears and nose and eyes are leaking from the pressure. All the life in your body is leaking out of your head. And the sneezing. It’s enough to make a sane person want to buy shares in Kleenex.

Yep, I think I have man-flu. This may be the last time you hear from me.


Can my Cat Catch my Cold?

Despite the fact that I’m clearly dying a slow and snotty death, my first thought was for Sparrow. Can cats catch human colds? How is his poor little asthmatic system going to cope? Will he be ok when I’m gone?

Cold Sparrow - Do Cats Get Colds?

If you think I’m being overly dramatic, you’re right. Partly. Humans catch colds all the time and mostly they live to tell the tale, but what exactly is it that we’re catching? According to Medical News Today, about 50% of common colds are caused by something called rhinovirus, but there are around 200 other viruses that could also be responsible.

There’s this thing called ‘reverse zoonosis’ which is basically the ability of humans to pass some infectious diseases on to animals, but the jury is still out on whether or not you can give your cold to your pets.

Some experts believe cats could be at risk of catching a human cold virus, but the odds are very small. This is great news for me, as I truly believe Dr Sparrow is the only one who can save me right now, but probably not such good news for the doctor himself.


Wait…Can Cats Catch Colds?

And will my poor, stuffed up head explode from all this alliteration? Nobody really knows the answer to that question, but as far as the kitty colds are concerned* technically the answer is no. Here’s a nice vet with a quick explanation of what’s really going on:

Cats commonly get upper respiratory tract infections, which kinda look like what we call colds. These infections are usually caused by viruses or bacteria such as feline herpesvirus, feline calicivirus or Bordetella bronchiseptica. These nasties are responsible for up to 95% of all upper respiratory infections in cats.

It probably doesn’t matter what you call it, and as someone who is favouring single syllables at the moment, I’d prefer to call it a cold. Either way, it’s pretty similar to a human cold in length, severity and symptoms.

* ::BOOM::


Symptoms of Cat Colds

You’ll probably be able to tell when your cat has a cold, the symptoms are basically the same as in humans. Things to keep an eye out for include:

  • Excessive sneezingCrying Cat - Do Cats Get Colds?
  • Excessive coughing
  • The sniffles
  • Discharge or weeping from the eyes or nose
  • Lethargy
  • Ulcers in the mouth, nose or eyes
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Congestion
  • Open mouth breathing

It should go without saying that if your kitty is suffering through any or all of those things, you need to get to the vet. If ulcers are present your vet may want to take cultures for definitive diagnosis, but usually, the clinical signs and symptoms are enough to go by to make a diagnosis.

Asthmatic cats are probably going to be in more trouble than their easy-breathing relatives should they get an upper respiratory infection, so recognising the symptoms and getting it checked out quickly is even more important.

Generally, an upper respiratory infection will last from 7 – 21 days, after an incubation period of 2 – 10 days. This is the time from the initial infection to when symptoms become apparent and is thought to be when the infection is at its most contagious.


It’s Contagious???

It sure is, but the good news is you can’t catch your cat’s cold and it’s fairly unlikely that your cat can catch your cold. This is very good news for me right now, because this cold has me half dead, so I hate to think what it could do to little Sparrow. And yes, I realise that if I do expire, eventually he’s going to get hungry enough to eat me.

Anyway. Cat to cat, it’s a different story. The viruses that cause colds in cats are highly contagious to other cats, so if you have more than one feline in your household it’s a good idea to keep the sick patient away from the healthy cats. Especially if your little asthmatic is the healthy cat.

Virus - Can Cats Catch Human Colds?

Aside from quarantine, there’s really not much you can do to prevent your cat from catching a cold – when the germs are in the air, they’re in the air. A healthy diet and plenty of exercise will do a lot of things for your kitty, including keeping his immune system strong enough to deal with these lurgies.

Vaccinations can help keep your asthma cat protected from the most common causes of upper respiratory infections and there are a number of natural remedies such as AmazaPet that can help to prevent and ease the symptoms.


Cures For Cat Colds

Unlike whatever’s hitting me in the head right now, cat colds are usually not lethal. A visit to the vet is definitely in order if you suspect your cat has an upper respiratory infection, as a course of medicine may be required to chase away the germs.

It may not be deadly but it’s still gotta be unpleasant so your kitty will appreciate you doing some extra nice things for him while he’s not well:

  • Staring Sparrow - My Cat Has a ColdPay extra attention to the basics – the sick patient will feel much better if the food, water and litter tray are kept nice.
  • Make sure he eats – try warming up some stinky wet food to encourage an appetite.
  • Make sure he drinks – dehydration is bad, especially when the kitty is sick.
  • Keep the place warm – turn up the heat and block the draughts.
  • Be extra mindful of asthma triggers as these will probably just aggravate the situation even more.
  • Maintain a calm, stress-free home for your sick kitty – now is not the time for noisy guests or furniture rearranging.
  • Wipe away his snots with a soft, fluffy cotton ball dipped in love.
  • Say “bless you” when he sneezes.


Feline upper respiratory infections or cat colds may seem relatively harmless – and they probably are – but it’s worth checking it out with your vet if you see any signs of sickness in your kitty. And don’t worry about passing your human cold on to your cat – it’s about as likely as you actually dying of man-flu, despite how it may feel.

Questions? Comments? Get in quick, I’m not sure how long I’ve got…

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  1. Thanks for the great post again Shirley! Per usual Sparrow is looking as adorable as ever. I’m glad that it sounds like he’s safe from your cold and I hope you feel better soon yourself!

    1. Hi Nyssa, eucalyptus oil is actually a cat repellant! It’s probably great for me, but I need my doctor kitty close to me right now!

  2. Excellent.

    I always worry if our cat can catch our colds. there is nothing better than cat cuddles for making you feel better when ill so its great to know we can’t pass anything on.

    And good to know we can return the favour when they are ill without risking our own health.

    I will be sure to action your advice on how treat our cats cold next time she comes down with something.

    1. I know! But I think Sparrow has decided I’m gross right now, he seems to be avoiding me. I can’t say I blame him, really…

  3. Hey Shirley,

    This is all quite interesting! As someone who has been around and had cats all my life, this is quite the interesting topic which I was always curious about.

    Now that I know my cat can’t catch my cold and vice-versa I can breathe a little bit easier once the ole’ flu comes ’round again!

    Thanks for the great content!

    1. Thanks Michael, I’m glad it’s not just me thinking about crazy things like this! I’m sure this bug is messing with my brain.

  4. A very nice educational post I didn’t know a cold could spread from human to cat it was interesting to learn. Also, I heard that is not the case when it comes to dogs. I like how every species is different in their own way which makes every one unique. Anyways, a good read will share it with my friends who have cats.

  5. First of all, hats off to you for roughing the bad stuff and cranking out a post anyways. Bravo!!
    Second of all, if cats are that smart then they will know to stay aways from you so you don’t sneeze on them so I wouldn’t worry about it.

    Hope you feel better soon.

    1. Thanks Brent, easily one of the hardest things I’ve done in my life, but you know how it is…we must press on. Nice to hear from you again 🙂

  6. Our cat gets SAAD just like my wife. I t is always interesting who gets it first. If I start a fire in the fireplace and drop the humidity done to the low 30’s and sometimes even lower. They love their fire. It is a small price to pay.

  7. Thanks for clarifying – I always thought cats and humans could catch certain colds off each other, you learn something new everyday! I love your tips – especially saying ‘bless you’ when my cat sneezes (which I actually do haha). Thanks for sharing!

  8. Thank you so much for all these useful tips. It took me a long time to realize that cats can really catch a cold… great info!

  9. My mother in law had a cat and she says that kitti was very strong and never catch colds even though she always had colds. You explained well that the viruses for cats are not the same as viruses that attack humans wich is well. Some chicken soup will make you feel better. Get well soon !!

  10. Sparrow is such a pretty kitty! This is great information! I have two kitties–Boots and Missy–and I have often wondered about this very thing. i appreciate you giving us tips on how to to care for a cat with a “cold”. I found them to be quite helpful. I’m relieved to find out they can’t actually catch my cold because they both love to snuggle with me when I am ill. I hope your cold subsides soon.

  11. Loved your post. Man flu is the worst flu on earth but does not seem to be fatal. It is a relief to learn that your poor little asthmatic moggy can’t catch a common cold from you and it not at risk. Can you tell me if cats can get pneumonia when they have an upper respiratory infection? Hope your head hasn’t exploded and your sparrow is well.

  12. I love this article! I am one of the ones that have always wondered if my animals can catch our flu or colds lol. I had a little trouble trying to share on social media. Mainly the google and pinterest. Keep up the cool posts and the quirky comments, I will keep folowing your articles ! Good luck 🙂

  13. wow Shirley what an informative post.. great layout and amazing.. I love the name of your site too.. Thank you for sharing such great information.. I had cats growing up and I loved them.. I miss them..

  14. Phew, what a tantalising read. For one minute I thought my Leo was in danger and the next I feared for my life. it’s a relief that neither cat nor human can transmit the cold to the other. It’s only unfortunate that both species can transmit to themselves.

    I was encouraged by the extent of care you give to the feline, more especially the nose wiping. I usually put an ear bud in my kittie’s ears, not all the way though, such a treat could help with speedy recovery because the cats love that very much.

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