Hepper is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Can Cats Catch Colds? What You Need to Know!

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

tabby cat sneezing

Is your cat sneezing more than usual? Are they shying away from their food with a runny nose? Chances are that your cat has a cold! Cats can absolutely catch colds, and they display many of the same symptoms that we humans experience when we get a cold. But how do you treat a kitty cold, and do you need to mask up around them? We answer both those questions and dive into everything else that you need to know to get your cat healthy again.

How Do You Know If Your Cat Has a Cold?

If you’re trying to diagnose a cat cold, the symptoms that your cat will display are remarkably similar to what you’ll notice if you develop a cold. These include:

  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Poor appetite
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Congestion
  • Sniffles
But while all those symptoms are similar to what humans experience when they get a cold, one area where cats can get it worse is with eye runniness. While humans can experience eye discomfort, eye discharge is one of the primary symptoms of a cat cold. This eye discharge can glue their eyes shut if you don’t clean them up, so ensure that you’re taking the time to wipe their eyes free of gunk.

Are Cat Colds Contagious?

While cat colds are extremely contagious to other felines, it’s almost impossible for them to pass the cold to you. Also, if you have other pets in the house, like a dog, it’s just as rare for them to get a cat’s cold. The cold variant that is afflicting your cat is feline specific, so unless the virus mutates, it won’t take root when it gets in your body, the body of a dog, or the body of any other non-feline. Since cat colds are so contagious to other felines, though, try to keep them separate from each other when one gets sick.

brown cat with runny nose

Do Cat Colds Go Away on Their Own?

Just like human colds tend to clear up on their own, if your cat gets a cold, they should be able to kick the virus without any medicinal help. However, you still need to keep an eye on your cat’s health when they’re sick. Untreated colds can develop into something more sinister, like pneumonia, if your cat is struggling to kick it on their own. So, monitor your cat’s symptoms whenever they get sick. They should be able to fully recover from a cold within a week or two, but if they aren’t starting to show signs of improvement by the 4-day mark, you should take them to the vet. The vet can prescribe your cat medicine to help boost their immune system and kick the virus. Doing this before the virus has time to settle is crucial. While clearing a persistent kitty cold with medicine isn’t a big deal, if your cat gets pneumonia, it can be far more challenging and expensive to treat.

How Do You Treat a Cat With a Cold?

If you haven’t taken your cat to the vet, all you should do to try to help your cat feel better is clean their eyes every once in a while with a warm rag. This helps the gunk from crusting over and gluing their eyes shut, making it far more comfortable for them. Typically, this is all you need to do to treat your cat’s cold. However, if you do end up taking your cat to the vet, they might prescribe additional medications to help your cat recover. These can include oral antibiotics to help their immune system and ointments to help their eyes from seeping too much. If your vet prescribes these medications, they should walk you through how much and how often to use them. If they don’t, call them and ask!

When Should You Take Your Cat to the Vet for a Cold?

If your cat has a cold and it’s not getting better after 4–5 days, you should take them to a vet. This is a big deal because if you leave a kitty cold untreated, it can settle into their lungs and develop into pneumonia. While a kitty cold isn’t too concerning, pneumonia in a cat is serious, and they usually won’t get better without antibiotics.

Final Thoughts

If you notice that your cat is feeling a little rundown, there’s no reason to panic yet. Just do what you can to have them take it easy, and clear the gunk from their eyes to help them feel a little better. Keep an eye on their symptoms, but that’s about all that you should need to do to get your cat healthy again. Kitty colds are common, but they’re rarely serious, so don’t start panicking! In a few days, your cat should be back to their happy and healthy ways.

Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

Related Articles

Further Reading

Vet Articles

Latest Vet Answers

The latest veterinarians' answers to questions from our database