Bouts of sneezing and a runny nose are both sure signs your cat has caught a cold. When this happens us, we know exactly what to do: we grab a hot drink, wrap up in a blanket and make sure we have a year’s supply of tissues within arm’s reach. But when our cats are struck by the same plight, we’re not so sure how to proceed. Fear not! Read on and you’ll soon know exactly what to do the next time your cat falls ill.
Pay particular attention to more delicate cats
For the most part, cats suffer from the same cold symptoms as we do: watery eyes, runny nose, sneezing, mild fever, loss of appetite and sometimes, though rarely, coughing. Colds are a type of upper respiratory infection, which can be caused by bacteria or a virus. They are not contagious for humans, but can be passed on to other cats (you’ll need to keep them away from the infected cat for the duration of the illness).
Cat colds are usually harmless and the symptoms should disappear within 10 days or so. However, if you fail to treat your cat correctly, they can develop pneumonia. It is therefore vital to pay close attention to your cat’s condition and to bring them to the vet if there is no sign of improvement within 4 or 5 days. In certain cases, you will need to consult a vet as soon as you notice the symptoms, for example if they appear in a kitten, an elderly cat, a female that is nursing, or a cat that has not been vaccinated against feline calcivirus (a sort of cat “flu” with similar symptoms to a cold, but much more dangerous).
How to care for your cat
Unlike us humans, cats can’t blow their noses so having a runny nose can be quite bothersome to say the least. You can help make your cat feel more comfortable by regularly cleaning their nose with a clean cloth or some cotton wool soaked in lukewarm water. If your cat’s eyes are watering, you can cleanse them by applying a saline solution with gauze. It’s also important to humidify the rooms of your house/apartment.
If you notice that your cat’s nose is very blocked and that they are having difficulty breathing, leaving them in a very damp room (for example, the bathroom after you have taken a hot shower) can help. But the most effective way to ease this problem is to carry out steam inhalation treatments. Put your cat in their transport cage and close the grill. Place a bowl of hot water in front of the cage – ask your vet for advice first before adding any special inhalation products – and then cover the bowl and the cage with a cloth. Leave for around 15 minutes. You can repeat this treatment two or three times a day.
Help your cat get their strength back
In order for your cat to make a speedy recovery, you’ll need to ensure they get enough to eat and drink. Their throat may be irritated, however, so it’s advisable to give them food that is easy to swallow. Having a blocked nose can also interfere with their sense of smell; try warming up their food slightly shortly beforehand to stimulate their appetite.It’s also important to make sure that your cat is warm enough. Add an extra cover to their bed or to the spot where they usually rest. Lastly, remedies containing vitamin C or grapefruit seed extract can help boost your cat’s immune system. But remember to always seek your vet’s advice before giving your cat any medication and never EVER give them cold medicine for human use