A cold can seem unstoppable. If someone in your household or at your work has a cold it won’t take long before everyone is sniffling and coughing. We do all we can to reduce the risk of catching a cold, like washing our hands, keeping our fingers out of our eyes and noses, and avoiding the coughs and sneezes of those infected.
As a cat it is more difficult to follow these steps to reduce their risk of catching a cold. They essentially clean themselves with their tongues, so that isn’t the best way to prevent infection. Should you be worried about infecting your cat?
The human cold is not contagious to your cat, so you can concentrate on getting healthy without worrying about your cat. Coughing and sneezing around your cat will only scare and annoy it. However, felines are susceptible to their version of the cold which has many of the same symptoms as the human common cold.
Can I give my cat a cold? Answer: No.
A cat’s cold is not contagious to humans, so no need to freak out if you cat sneezes on you. Cuddle the little bugger to your hearts content, but make sure to contact the veterinarian at the first sign that your cat has a cold, since it can create complications if left untreated.
Highly Contagious to Animals
The bacteria that are responsible for giving cats a cold are different from those that cause it in humans, ensuring that it is not transferable to us. Nevertheless, cat colds are highly contagious to cats, so if you have multiple cats, it might be a good idea to quarantine them. Other animals are also vulnerable to the bacteria that causes cat colds, so make sure to quarantine these as well. The agents that cause the cat cold are short-lived in the environment, but can last a long time inside the cat.
Therefore it is possible that once your cat has contracted a cold, it may have flare-up when it is particularly stressed or when its immune system is low. The cold can even be contagious when a cat no longer displays any symptoms because the agents responsible can remain in the cat in latent form. Felines that spend most of their time outdoors are more likely to catch a cold than those that remain indoor. Indoor cats generally don’t have much contact with other cats, so they are protected from the highly contagious cold.
A cat cold has much of the same symptoms as your average human cold, including coughing, sneezing, runny nose, and wheezing. In same cases they also have teary eyes, ulcers around the mouth, and difficulty breathing. Unable to use tissues your cat will probably wipe its nose on the couch.
How to Treat
Never use human cold medication to treat a cat’s cold. Not only is the bacteria that causes the cold different, many ingredients of human cold medication can be fatal or harmful to cats. Cats, just like humans, will typically recover from their cold in about a week. The only problem is that it may get complicated if the infection spreads to the lung, becoming a lower respiratory infection.
It is therefore advisable as a preventive measure to contact a veterinarian upon noticing the first symptoms. Humidification of the nasal passages may help alleviate some of the symptoms. You can do this with a humidifier or by taking your kitty into the bathroom for a nice steaming. Be careful not to get your cat wet though!
To prevent your cat from catching a cold, it is advised to keep it indoors and out of contact with other animals. The agents that cause the cat cold do not last long in the environment, so keeping the environment of the cat clean should prevent them from ever coming into contact. Also try and keep the temperature constant (around 70 degrees) and make sure to dry your cat should it ever get wet.
Highly Contagious, But Not to Humans
The human cold is not contagious to cats and vice versa. However, cats can get a cold and this is highly contagious to other animals, so quarantine if possible and contact a veterinarian as soon as you can. On the bright side you can give it all the affection that it needs because you are safe.