Can Cats Get Colds? Understanding the 4 Signs and Symptoms


“Picture this: your furry feline friend snuggled up on the couch, purring contentedly. Suddenly, you notice a sniffle or a sneeze. Could it be a cold? Many pet owners wonder if cats can catch colds just like humans. In this blog, we’ll dive into this common question, can cats get cold and explore what you need to know about feline health. Let’s uncover the truth behind whether your kitty can catch a cold and what steps you can take to keep them healthy and happy.

Can Cats get Colds from Humans?

Yes, cats can get colds, but the viruses that cause them are different from the ones that affect humans. The most common cold virus in cats is called feline herpesvirus or feline calicivirus. These viruses can cause symptoms similar to the common cold in humans, such as sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes, and lethargy. However, it’s essential to note that what we call a “cold” in cats may actually be a sign of a more serious illness, such as an upper respiratory infection. If you notice any signs of illness in your cat, it’s best to consult with a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Understanding Feline Respiratory Viruses

Feline respiratory viruses, including the feline herpesvirus and calicivirus, are the primary culprits behind cold-like symptoms in cats. These viruses can spread rapidly among feline populations, leading to respiratory distress and other related health concerns.

While the initial symptoms may appear similar to the common cold in humans, feline respiratory viruses can pose a more serious health risk to cats. Here are some key points to understand about feline respiratory viruses:

  • Feline Herpesvirus: This virus is highly contagious and can cause a range of respiratory symptoms, including sneezing, nasal discharge, and conjunctivitis. In severe cases, it can lead to pneumonia and even death.
  • Calicivirus: Another common respiratory virus in cats, calicivirus can cause fever, ulcers in the mouth, and joint pain. It can also lead to upper respiratory tract infections and other complications.
  • Transmission and Spread: Feline respiratory viruses are typically spread through direct contact with an infected cat, as well as through sharing contaminated items such as food and water bowls, bedding, and litter boxes.
  • Managing the Risk: To minimize the risk of feline respiratory viruses, it’s important to keep cats up to date on vaccinations, practice good hygiene, and limit exposure to potentially infected cats.

By understanding the nature of feline respiratory viruses and taking proactive measures to prevent their spread, cat owners can help protect the health and well-being of their feline companions.

How Cold Viruses Spread Between Cats and Humans

Understanding the transmission of cold viruses between cats and humans is crucial for pet owners. While direct transmission is not common, it is important to be aware of the potential ways in which viral particles can be carried and spread between the two species. Here are some key points to consider:

  • Clothing and Surfaces: Viral particles can cling to clothing and surfaces, creating a potential risk of cross-species infection. It’s important to regularly clean and disinfect commonly used items and areas to reduce the risk of transmission.
  • Shared Spaces: Cats and humans share living spaces, which can facilitate the transfer of viral particles. Understanding the importance of maintaining clean and hygienic environments is essential for preventing the spread of respiratory illnesses.
  • Indirect Contact: Even indirect contact with an infected individual can pose a risk. This includes contact with items that have been exposed to viral particles, such as bedding, furniture, and shared objects.
  • Behavioral Factors: Understanding the behavior of cats and humans, such as grooming habits and interactions, can shed light on potential modes of virus transmission. This knowledge can inform preventative measures to reduce the risk of cross-species infection.

Preventing the Transmission of Colds Between Cats and Humans

To prevent the transmission of colds between cats and humans, it’s crucial to practice good hygiene and take proactive measures to minimize the risk of viral exposure. Simple precautions, such as regular handwashing and disinfecting common surfaces, can contribute to creating a healthier environment for both feline companions and their human caregivers.

can cats get colds

What Are Common Cold-Like Symptoms in Cats?

1-Sneezing and Nasal Discharge

Sneezing and nasal discharge are common signs of respiratory distress in cats. If you notice your feline companion sneezing frequently or exhibiting a runny or congested nose, it could indicate the presence of a respiratory infection.

2-Coughing and Wheezing

Coughing and wheezing are common respiratory symptoms in cats that may indicate underlying health issues. Here’s a more detailed look at these symptoms:

  • Coughing: A persistent cough can be a sign of various conditions, including infections, asthma, heartworm disease, or foreign objects in the airway. It’s essential to monitor the frequency, duration, and nature of the cough to help the veterinarian make an accurate diagnosis.
  • Wheezing: Wheezing often accompanies coughing and may indicate inflammation or narrowing of the airways. This can occur due to asthma, bronchitis, or allergic reactions. It’s important to observe if wheezing is accompanied by labored breathing or other distress signs.

If your cat exhibits persistent coughing or wheezing, it’s imperative to seek veterinary attention promptly. The veterinarian will conduct a thorough examination to identify the underlying cause and provide appropriate treatment. Respiratory conditions in cats should never be taken lightly, and early intervention can significantly impact the prognosis.

3-Eye Discharge and Watery Eyes

Unusual eye discharge and watery eyes could point to an underlying respiratory infection in cats. If your cat’s eyes appear watery or exhibit abnormal discharge, it’s essential to monitor their overall well-being and consider consulting a veterinarian for guidance.

4-Lethargy and Decreased Appetite

Lethargy and a decreased appetite are common symptoms that may indicate an underlying respiratory illness in cats. These symptoms can be early indicators of a potential cold or respiratory infection. It is crucial for cat owners to be observant and responsive to changes in their pet’s energy levels and eating habits. Here’s a more detailed look at how lethargy and decreased appetite may manifest in cats:

  • Lethargy: Cats may exhibit a lack of interest in usual activities, such as playing, exploring, or interacting with their human companions. They might appear unusually tired or spend more time resting than usual.
  • Decreased Appetite: Loss of appetite can present as a reluctance to eat, disinterest in favorite foods, or a significant reduction in portion sizes. Some cats may also show signs of nausea, such as lip licking or excessive salivation, when presented with food.

Monitoring changes in your cat’s behavior and addressing lethargy and decreased appetite promptly can aid in early intervention and treatment of potential respiratory issues. If these symptoms persist or are accompanied by other cold-like symptoms, consulting a veterinarian is recommended for proper diagnosis and care.

What to Do If You Suspect Your Cat Has a Cold

Home Care for Cats with Colds

If you suspect that your cat has a cold, providing a comfortable and stress-free environment is essential for their recovery. This includes maintaining a warm and cozy resting place, ensuring adequate hydration, and offering nutritious meals that are palatable and enticing for your feline friend.

When to Seek Veterinary Care

If you suspect that your cat may have a cold, it’s important to closely monitor their condition. However, there are specific indications that suggest it’s time to seek veterinary care for your feline friend. These include:

  • Persistent or worsening symptoms such as sneezing, nasal discharge, coughing, or lethargy.
  • Difficulty breathing or labored breathing.
  • Loss of appetite or refusal to eat or drink.
  • Signs of dehydration such as dry, tacky gums or sunken eyes.
  • Unusual vocalizations or excessive discomfort.

When encountering any of these signs, it’s vital to seek professional veterinary care promptly. A thorough medical evaluation by a veterinarian can aid in determining the underlying cause of your cat’s illness and guide appropriate treatment. This proactive approach ensures the best possible outcome for your feline companion’s health.

Preventive Measures to Keep Your Cat Healthy

Nutritious Diet and Hydration

A well-balanced diet and adequate hydration are essential for maintaining your cat’s health and well-being. Here are some key points to consider when it comes to your cat’s diet and hydration:

  • High-Quality Cat Food: Ensure that your cat is provided with a high-quality cat food that is nutritionally balanced and free from artificial additives. Look for cat food that lists real meat as the first ingredient.
  • Variety and Balance: Provide a variety of foods to ensure your cat receives the necessary nutrients. Consider incorporating both wet and dry food into their diet, as each type offers unique benefits.
  • Hydration: Cats often do not drink enough water, so it’s important to encourage proper hydration. Offer fresh, clean water in multiple locations throughout your home and consider using a water fountain to entice your cat to drink.
  • Moisture-Rich Treats: For an occasional treat, consider offering moisture-rich options such as small pieces of cooked chicken or fish. These can provide an additional source of hydration.
  • Importance of Nutritional Consultation: Consult your veterinarian to ensure that your cat’s specific dietary needs are met based on their age, weight, and any health conditions.

Routine Vaccinations

  • Regular vaccinations are essential for protecting your cat from preventable diseases, including those that cause respiratory symptoms.
  • Consult your veterinarian to establish a vaccination schedule tailored to your cat’s specific needs, providing comprehensive immunization against potential health threats.
  • Ensure that your cat receives core vaccinations, such as those for rabies and feline distemper, which are crucial for their overall well-being. In addition, consider non-core vaccines based on your cat’s lifestyle and risk of exposure to certain diseases.
  • Keep a record of your cat’s vaccinations and stay informed about the need for booster shots and any updates to the recommended immunization protocols.

Minimizing Stress and Environmental Enrichment

Creating a harmonious and enriching environment for your cat is vital for reducing stress and supporting their overall well-being. There are various strategies and practices that can be implemented to ensure your feline friend thrives in a stress-free environment.

Providing environmental enrichment for your cat involves creating a space that encourages mental stimulation, physical activity, and relaxation. Here are some key elements to consider:

  • Toys: Offer a variety of stimulating toys that engage your cat’s hunting and play instincts. Puzzle feeders, interactive toys, and feather wands are great options to keep your cat mentally and physically active.
  • Resting Spots: Provide cozy and comfortable resting spots in different areas of your home. These spots should be quiet and safe, allowing your cat to rest undisturbed.
  • Scratching Posts: Cats need to scratch to maintain their claws, stretch their muscles, and mark their territory. Invest in sturdy scratching posts or pads to fulfill this natural behavior.
  • Vertical Space: Cats enjoy being up high to observe their surroundings. Install cat trees, wall shelves, or window perches to give your cat vertical space to explore and relax.
  • Interactive Playtime: Spend quality time playing with your cat using toys such as lasers, interactive wands, or catnip-filled toys. Engaging in interactive play sessions strengthens the bond between you and your cat while providing mental and physical stimulation.

Stress can have a detrimental impact on a cat’s health and well-being. Implementing strategies to reduce stress can significantly benefit your cat’s overall health. Here are some techniques to minimize stress:

  • Quiet Retreats: Create quiet retreats within your home where your cat can escape to when feeling overwhelmed. These spaces should be secluded and equipped with cozy bedding to provide comfort and security.
  • Consistent Routine: Establishing a predictable daily routine for feeding, playtime, and quiet moments helps reduce uncertainty and create a sense of security for your cat.
  • Environmental Changes: When making changes to your home environment, introduce them gradually to avoid overwhelming your cat. Whether it’s rearranging furniture or introducing new household members, gradual changes can help minimize stress.
  • Positive Reinforcement: Use positive reinforcement techniques to reward calm and confident behavior. Reward your cat with treats, praise, or favorite activities when they display relaxed and composed behavior.


In conclusion, understanding the signs and symptoms of common cold-like illnesses in cats is essential for proactive pet care. By recognizing the early warning signs, preventing cross-species transmission, and providing appropriate care, pet owners can play a pivotal role in promoting their feline companions’ health and well-being.

Through a combination of attentive monitoring, preventive measures, and timely veterinary intervention, cat owners can nurture a strong bond with their pets while safeguarding against respiratory infections. We hope this article has equipped you with valuable insights and actionable strategies to support your cat’s health and happiness.

Leave a Comment

Photo of author


Hi there! I'm Aafaq, the passionate cat enthusiast behind Hat Cats. As a devoted cat parent, I share insights, tips, and heartwarming tales about our feline friends. Join me in celebrating the joy of whiskers and purrs!