It's very common for a cat to sneeze from time to time. Does that mean the cat has a cold? Not necessarily. But if the sneezing is accompanied by other symptoms – fever, sniffling, coughing, eye or nasal discharge – your cat most likely does have a cold. Read on for more details on pesky pet colds and what you can do about them.
Can Cats Catch a Cold?
People often catch colds in the winter, and cats are no different. Don't feel guilty about giving your cat a cold though – the viruses that cause colds in humans aren't problems for cats, and vice versa. In addition to the symptoms listed above, be on the lookout for a lack of interest in food, excessive sleeping, swallowing more than usual, and a raised third eyelid. If your cat has a combination of these symptoms the chances are good they're not feeling great.
How to Help
Most cat colds run their course all on their own. If your cat is typically healthy and doesn't seem to be suffering, you most likely don't need to visit a vet. But if you're ever in doubt, a trip to the vet might be a good idea. There are a few things you can do to soothe your suffering friend while they're fighting their cold. Keep your cat's eyes and nose clean by gently wiping them with a moistened cotton ball. Use a different cotton ball for each eye – you don't want to spread any bacteria. Be sure to provide plenty of fresh water for your cat, and try warming up some wet food to encourage them to eat if they seem to have lost their appetite. If they turn their nose up at their food, you can also try meat-flavored baby food – it's a good way to excite some cats into eating. To help with your cat's breathing you can add a humidifier to the room (but don't use essential oils – they are often dangerous for cats). Give your cat a warm place to rest, and separate them from any other cats in the house to avoid the spread of colds or infection.
When to Go to the Vet
Sometimes you'll need the help of a vet to treat your cat and get them back to being healthy. If your cat has a fever that isn't breaking, if they refuse to move, or if you notice yellow/green/bloody discharge, you should take your cat to the vet immediately. Upper respiratory infections can be very dangerous for felines and they can lead to pneumonia, which can be fatal. So if your cat isn't better in a couple of days, even if your cat is typically healthy, it's time to take them in for professional help. You should also visit a vet immediately if you're dealing with a kitten, a senior, or a cat with a history of health problems.
By Niels Ingvar
About the Author
Niels Ingvar is a freelance writer specializing in animal care and behavior, as well as Nordic film and literature. Niels, a native of Aarhus, Denmark, has been living in Los Angeles, CA for 15 years where he writes and actively volunteers at various animal rescues throughout the area.