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Symptoms of a cat cold

Updated February 21, 2019

When cats are sick, they often try to hide it. As an astute owner, you'll still be able to tell when your cat might be having a problem by watching for telltale symptoms. Colds are a common illness among cats, and they have some very obvious symptoms if you know what to look for. While colds are not usually dangerous, they may need treatment if they don't resolve on their own. This prevents them from turning into something more serious.

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According to Pets.ca, a cat's "cold" is really an upper respiratory infection caused by exposure to a virus or bacteria. Its symptoms will be centred mainly around its respiratory system and will be similar to those suffered by humans with a cold.


A cat can get a cold from a variety of causes. Pets.ca says the most common way is through a virus or bacteria. Colds are very contagious, so if your cat is exposed to an infectious agent like Chlamydia, Feline Calicivirus, or Feline Rhinotracheitis Virus, it will be likely to catch a respiratory infection. However, cats can show similar symptoms if they are infected by parasitic worms or are having an allergic reaction.


The most common symptoms of a feline cold include coughing, sneezing and a runny nose. Some cats will also wheeze and have trouble breathing. There may be discharge from the eyes and ulcers in the mouth. The cat may appear agitated and uncomfortable, pawing at its eyes and nose, and it may run a fever. Some cats will also lose their appetite. The Cat Health Guide says this is because of its impaired sense of smell, which makes food less appealing.


Pets.ca says that if the symptoms last for more than one or two days, your cat most likely has a cold. If the symptoms persist for more than two days, take your cat to the veterinarian for evaluation. While colds are not usually dangerous, some cats develop secondary infections that can lead to chronic illness if they are not treated.


You can treat the cause of your cat's cold as well as its symptoms. The infecton is typically treated with an antiviral or antibiotic medication. Symptoms can be relieved with decongestants. Your cat may also benefit from being in the same room as a humidifier to help moisten its nasal passages. Encourage the cat to eat and drink, as it needs plenty of food and liquid to help it retain its strength and recover. The Cat Health Guide says you can often entice it to eat more by offering food with a strong smell.

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About the Author

Based in Kissimmee, Fla., Barb Nefer is a freelance writer with over 20 years of experience. She is a mental health counselor, finance coach and travel agency owner. Her work has appeared in such magazines as "The Writer" and "Grit" and she authored the book, "So You Want to Be a Counselor."

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