Happy Silly Cat

Cold Kitty: Understanding Treating and Preventing Cat Respiratory Infections

Cat Colds

If you’re a cat owner, it’s essential to know the symptoms, causes, and treatment of cat colds. Feline upper-respiratory infections (URI) are very common among cats, especially those who are living in multi-cat households or rescue centers.

In this article, we’ll discuss the various aspects of cat colds, from its symptoms to its complications. Symptoms of

Cat Colds

The most common symptoms of cat colds include coughing, sneezing, discharge, lethargy, and fever.

Just like humans, cats experience similar respiratory infections that can cause a range of symptoms, from mild to severe. In some cases, your cat may have a runny nose, watery eyes, and conjunctivitis.

Other symptoms may include a loss of appetite, fatigue, or difficulty breathing that could signify complications. Complications of

Cat Colds

Complications of cat colds can be severe if left untreated.

In some cases, your cat may develop a bacterial infection, pneumonia, or congestion in the lungs, which can be dangerous. You may also notice that your cat has a loss of appetite, which can lead to malnutrition and dehydration.

It’s essential to observe your cat’s behavior and seek medical attention if you notice any unusual symptoms. Causes of

Cat Colds

The most common causes of cat colds are feline herpesvirus and feline calicivirus.

Most cats contract these viruses through contact with infected cats or contaminated objects. The virus can remain dormant in their bodies for weeks or even months, causing infection when their immune system is compromised by stress, poor nutrition or other illnesses.

Therefore, it’s essential to keep your cat’s living environment clean and stress levels low. Diagnosis of

Cat Colds

If you suspect that your cat has a cold, the first step is to take them to a veterinarian for a diagnosis.

The veterinarian will perform a physical examination and look for symptoms of upper respiratory infection. They may also take a medical history and recommend diagnostic tests.

These diagnostic tests may include a complete blood count, blood chemistry panel, and upper respiratory PCR panel. Treatment and Recovery of

Cat Colds

Treatment for cat colds usually includes antibiotics to treat any secondary bacterial infections and decrease inflammation, steam therapy to clear their nasal passages, and a humidifier to maintain a moist environment, which is beneficial for their respiratory tract.

In severe cases, your cat may need hospitalization for monitoring and intravenous medication. Additionally, stress reduction measures such as decreasing disruptive environments and maintaining a healthy diet, will improve your cats chances of faster recovery.

Feline Herpesvirus

Feline herpesvirus is a highly contagious virus that causes upper respiratory infections in cats. The virus results in long-term symptoms and often has periods of dormancy.

If you adopt or have a multi-cat household, it’s essential to know how to detect and treat this virus to prevent severe respiratory infections in both healthy and infected cats.

Definition and Symptoms

Feline herpesvirus is a contagious virus that can cause a severe upper respiratory infection in cats that can last up to four weeks. The virus is highly contagious and can spread quickly through contact with infected cats, contaminated surfaces or even through the air.

Herpesvirus can lie dormant in a cat’s body for years before reactivating during times of stress. Symptoms may include sneezing, runny eyes with discharge, and loss of appetite.

In some cases, your cat may develop a fever or lung congestion.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Feline herpesvirus diagnoses can be confirmed by performing a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) panel in the laboratory. Treatment for herpesvirus primarily focuses on managing the symptoms of the disease.

Medications like antihistamines and bronchodilators can help relieve respiratory symptoms that are present. Proper nutrition, a clean environment, and stress reduction can also assist in recovery.


Cat colds and feline herpesvirus are serious respiratory illnesses that you should be aware of as a cat owner. Your cat’s symptoms may be as simple as a cold or as severe as the feline herpesvirus.

Pay attention to their behavior, and always consult with your veterinarian if you notice unusual symptoms or indications of respiratory distress. Remember, stress reduction and hygiene are key preventative steps to help keep your cat healthy and safe.

Feline Calicivirus

Feline calicivirus is another common upper respiratory infection in cats that can lead to severe respiratory distress. In this section, we’ll discuss the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of feline calicivirus.

Definition and Symptoms

Feline calicivirus is a highly contagious virus that primarily affects the upper respiratory system. The virus can spread quickly through contact with infected cats, contaminated objects, or even air-borne droplets.

Symptoms of feline calicivirus include sneezing, runny eyes, fever and mouth ulcers. In severe cases, the virus can cause pneumonia, which can lead to breathing difficulties in cats.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosis of feline calicivirus can be confirmed by performing a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) panel in the laboratory. Treatment of feline calicivirus often focuses on managing the symptoms, which can include antiviral medications, painkillers, and antibiotics.

Additionally, it’s essential to quarantine the infected cat to prevent the spread of the virus to other cats. With adequate treatment and care, most cats with feline calicivirus can recover within two to three weeks.

Vaccinations for

Cat Colds

The importance of vaccinations cannot be overstated in preventing severe cat cold infections. Vaccines stimulate your cats immune system to fight specific viruses.

Core vaccines, like the feline herpesvirus and feline calicivirus vaccine, should be administered to all cats at eight weeks of age. These vaccines are essential to prevent infections and reduce the symptoms of upper respiratory infections.

Additionally, kittens require booster vaccines to ensure the immunity is always active. It’s also important to note that adult cats need yearly booster shots to maintain immunity levels.

Effectiveness of Vaccines

While vaccines are helpful in reducing the symptoms of cat colds, they do not entirely prevent your cat from being infected by viruses like feline herpesvirus, calicivirus or other respiratory viruses. However, studies show that vaccinated cats experience milder symptoms if they contract the respiratory virus.

Additionally, vaccinated cats can be carriers of the virus, so it’s still important to maintain proper hygiene to prevent infection.


Overall, cat colds and respiratory infections are common illnesses in cats. It’s essential to observe your cats behavior and seek veterinary care if you notice any unusual symptoms.

Proper diagnosis, treatment and vaccination can prevent severe illness and help your cat recover faster. Remember, prevention is key, and your cats immunity can be protected through annually administered booster shots and adequate stress reduction measures.

Home Care for

Cat Colds

Assistance during Recovery

Recovering from a cat cold can be a challenging process for your feline friends. However, with proper care, you can help your cat recover faster.

A humidifier and steam therapy can be useful in reducing congestion and breathing difficulties. Steam therapy involves placing your cat in a small room with the shower running, which helps clear their airways.

Additionally, providing a stress-free environment, offering plenty of water and monitoring them for any signs of dehydration, or stress and providing an appropriate diet can help your cat recover faster.

Monitoring your Cat

Monitoring your cat is essential while they recover from a cold. Cats are master at hiding their pain, so it’s important to be observant of their behavior.

Monitor your cat’s eating, drinking, urinating, and defecating patterns. Ensure that they are eating enough and drinking plenty of water.

A decrease in appetite could signify illness or pain. Similarly, monitor their bathroom habits.

Any changes in your cats fecal or urine patterns could indicate a severe underlying condition that requires attention from a veterinarian. Transmission of

Cat Colds

Risk factors for Indoor Cats

Indoor cats can contract cat colds through direct contact with an infected cat or by exposure to contaminated objects or air.

Feline herpesvirus and calicivirus are the most common culprits, and it’s vital to take preventive measures to protect your cat. Indoor cats are at risk due to factors like stress, a weakened immune system, and shared living space in a multi-cat household.

Quarantine, proper hygiene, and isolation are critical measures to prevent transmission of illnesses among indoor cats.

Prevention Methods

Vaccinations are one of the most effective methods to prevent the transmission of respiratory viruses in cats. A routine vaccination protocol with the feline leukemia, feline herpesvirus, and feline calicivirus vaccine is essential to prevent diseases.

Quarantine those who are infected before they interact with other cats to prevent the spread of the virus. Additionally, keep your cats living space clean and stress-free to maintain optimal health.

Using a humidifier and proper ventilation can help prevent the accumulation of contamination in the environment.


Cat colds are common respiratory illnesses among cats that require proper care and preventive measures to ensure speedy recovery and prevent transmission to other cats. Home care involves monitoring your cats behavior, maintaining hygiene in their living environment and providing proper medical care such as medications and quarantine.

Additionally, vaccines and stress reduction methods can prevent the spread of upper respiratory infections between indoor cats. By taking preventive measures and seeking immediate veterinary care, you can help your cat recover and maintain optimal health.

In summary, cat colds and respiratory infections are common illnesses among cats that can lead to severe complications without adequate care. The primary causes of respiratory infections are feline herpesvirus and feline calicivirus, which are highly contagious and spread through contact with contaminated objects or air.

Vaccinations and stress reduction methods are crucial in preventing respiratory infections in cats. Home care during recovery from cat colds includes monitoring your cat’s behavior, providing steam therapy, and ensuring proper nutrition.

Lastly, observation, hygiene, and quarantine are essential measures in preventing respiratory illnesses from spreading to other cats. By prioritizing preventive measures and seeking immediate veterinary care, cat owners can ensure their feline friends recover promptly and maintain optimal health.

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