Can cats get colds?

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The viruses that cause most colds in humans are specific to our species, so the answer to the question ‘can cats catch human colds?’ is no. However, cats, especially kittens and older cats, can be prone to upper respiratory disease – better known as cat flu – which has similar symptoms to the common human cold. 

What are the main cat cold symptoms?

The symptoms of cat colds are easy enough to detect. You may find your cat starts sneezing more than normal, has a runny nose and red, watery eyes. In more severe cases, they may swallow a lot more than usual, run a fever and start coughing. You may also notice they become more lethargic and are off their food. 

If your cat is just sneezing more frequently without showing any other symptoms, then there may be another cause, like an allergy or irritation caused by exposure to cigarette smoke or an aerosol. 

What causes cat colds?

Most of the conditions that show up as cat colds, or cat flu, are caused by the feline herpes virus and calicivirus. They are most likely to be transmitted between cats through saliva and sneezing. Sometimes, especially in cats who are exposed to it early in life, cat flu can lie dormant, only to return at times when a cat is suffering from stress or a poor diet. 

How should you treat cat colds?

For the most part, cat flu is not serious and will last for seven-to-ten days before it clears up. You can help keep your cat happier and on the road to recovery in that time by offering them warmed cat food and plenty of water. You could also help to keep their nose and eyes clear of discharge with a very soft cloth or paper towel wet with warm water. You should also clean any food and water bowls frequently, and remember to change and clean bedding to prevent reinfection. 

If your cat displays more serious symptoms or shows no sign of getting better after a week or ten days, you should consult your vet. 

Can you prevent cat colds?

The best way to help protect your cat from succumbing to cat flu is to make sure they’re vaccinated. There are vaccinations available for both feline herpes and calicivirus. It’s recommended that kittens should receive their first vaccinations at about 9 weeks old, with a follow-up a couple of weeks later, and regular boosters every year. 

Pet Insurance could help with vet bills

Pet Insurance could help with vet bills for treating cat colds or other problems your pet may have over the years, depending on the limitations and exclusions of the policy you choose.

Please note: Any illness, injury or condition that occurred before you take out a policy is known as a pre-existing condition. Any pre-existing condition will not be covered under the policy. Pet Insurance policies have an initial 14 days exclusion for illness claims so any claim starting before the policy or in the first 14 days will not be covered.  For more details please view our key documents.

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