Cat flu is another name for an upper respiratory tract infection often caused by Feline Herpes Virus or Feline Calicivirus. This illness affects the lining of a cat's nose, pharynx, sinuses and throat, as well as the membranes of a cat's eyes. Symptoms include sneezing, drooling, loss of appetite and nasal or ocular discharge. There are plenty of measures you can take at home to treat your cat if it comes down with cat flu.
Discharge from the cat's eyes is common with a bout of cat flu. Clean your cat's eyes frequently with cotton balls soaked in lukewarm salt water. Never use water that is too hot as it may burn your cat's eyes. Discard any used cotton balls to prevent the spread of infection. If your cat's eye discharge is very excessive and the eye seems painful, the infection may have caused a corneal ulcer which can only be treated by a veterinarian.
Your cat may lose its appetite due to the condition, or due to the fact that its nose has got stuffy. A stuffy nose prevents your cat from smelling its food, which may prevent the cat from eating. Combat this by offering your cat's favourite foods. Offer foods with an extra strong smell, such as sardines. Vanilla ice cream is another good option as cats tend to like it and the cool temperature soothes a sore throat.
Set up a recovery area for your cat. Make sure the area is out of the way of noise, household traffic and other pets (a bathroom works nicely). Keep the area warm, and make it comfortable with a bed, litter box, food and water in close reach, a couple of toys and a humidifier if you have one.
Ensure that your cat drinks frequently to stay hydrated. Provide plenty of clean, fresh drinking water. Electrolyte replacement fluids, such as plain Pedialyte for children, work well in place of water to give your cat some extra electrolytes and fight dehydration. If your cat is reluctant to drink, try providing some chicken broth a few times a day, which provides both nutrition and fluids.
Wipe your cat's nose frequently with a soft cloth, tissue or cotton ball. This removes any discharge and makes your cat more comfortable. Try adding a little mineral oil or petroleum jelly to your cat's nose (just a dab, you don't want to plug your cat's nose any further than it already is) to prevent discomfort from frequent wiping and discharge. Be sure to discard any used tissues or cotton balls and to wash cleaning cloths frequently to prevent spread of infection.