Maybe your kitty is sneezing or coughing and just acts like they don’t feel good. This is when many cat owners start asking, “can cats get colds?” Yes, they can, though they’re not exactly like human colds and humans and cats can’t share colds. Read on to learn everything you need to know about a cat cold.
Can Cats Get Colds: What is a Cat Cold?
Technically, cat colds are usually feline upper respiratory infections, but they are called colds and they usually resolve on their own like a human cold. Sometimes, they can become serious.
What Causes Cat Colds?
Cats get viral or bacterial infections in their upper respiratory system, almost always coming from the calicivirus or the herpesvirus, though there are many others that can cause it.
They contract the disease from other cats and are therefore more likely to catch it when around large numbers of cats such as in a pet store, shelter, breeding facility, or daycare.
The disease is highly contagious, spreading through the saliva and eye and nasal discharge, so it is important to keep healthy cats away from sick cats and to sanitize the area where sick cats have been.
A cat with a strong immune system will usually need to come into direct contact with the sick cat to contract the disease, but a weaker immune system makes it easier for a cat to contract it from just encountering contaminated fluids on objects. You should wash the bedding, bowls, toys, and washable surfaces the sick cat has used with soap.
Humans cannot get colds from cats or vice versa, though you could get an eye infection if a cat sneezes or coughs in your face, and the H1N1 virus has been transmitted between humans and cats.
It is always a good practice to wash your hands when handling a sick cat and to wash its belongings and living space to protect yourself and the rest of your family from the few potential illnesses that can spread between humans and cats and to keep from spreading the disease from cat to cat.
Many people ask, “how do indoor cats get colds,” implying that their cat has had no contact with another cat and yet they still got a cold. It is possible for cats to encounter a bacteria or virus that causes a cat cold even if they did not have direct contact with a cat. The fluids just have to be present, so it could come in on the air, your shoes, or the dog. Again, the healthier your cat’s immune system, the less likely it is that they could contract the disease without direct contact.
How Long Does a Cat Cold Last?
Cat colds are similar in this respect to human colds. They typically last around 7 to 10 days but can persist as long as 21 days.
The incubation period, the time it takes before symptoms develop, is 2 to 10 days, and it is during this time that the cat is the most contagious. This means that if you suspect your cat has been exposed to a cat cold, you should keep them away from other cats even before symptoms appear.
Cat Cold Symptoms
When your cat has a cold, it will usually not be a big deal.