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?
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:
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.
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 sneezing
- Excessive coughing
- The sniffles
- Discharge or weeping from the eyes or nose
- Ulcers in the mouth, nose or eyes
- Loss of appetite
- 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 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.
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:
- Pay 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…