How Do You Tell If A Cat Has A Cold?

Have you ever snuggled up to your furry feline friend, only to realize that they’re not feeling quite themselves? Maybe they’re sneezing or sniffling more than usual, or seem to be sleeping more often. Could your cat have a cold? The answer is yes, and just like with humans, colds can be uncomfortable and even dangerous for cats if left untreated.

But how do you tell if your cat has a cold? First things first, it’s important to understand what causes a cat cold. These pesky viruses are typically caused by the feline herpes virus or the feline calicivirus. Cats with weakened immune systems due to stress, underlying medical conditions, or age are more susceptible to contracting a cold.

So what should you look out for? Keep an eye on your furry friend for symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose or eyes, coughing, lethargy, loss of appetite or decrease in activity. If you notice any of these signs, it’s time to take your cat to the vet pronto. Your trusted veterinarian will be able to diagnose the cause of your cat’s symptoms and prescribe the appropriate treatment which may include antibiotics, antivirals or supportive care.

In this blog post we’ll dive deeper into how you can tell if your beloved pet has caught a cold and we’ll cover everything from the causes of cat colds right through to proper treatment options. So sit back and relax while we help you become an expert in all things feline health.

Signs of a Cat Cold

Even though felines are usually healthy creatures, they can still catch a cold just like humans. However, identifying the symptoms can be challenging as they can be similar to other illnesses.

The most common signs of a cat cold include sneezing, coughing, runny nose, and watery eyes. You may also notice your cat breathing through their mouth or experiencing difficulty breathing. In severe cases, your cat may experience a loss of appetite or become lethargic. If you observe any of these symptoms, it’s best to take your furry friend to the vet as soon as possible.

It’s crucial to note that while these symptoms may indicate a cold, they can also be signs of more severe illnesses such as feline herpesvirus or feline calicivirus. Therefore, getting an accurate diagnosis from a professional veterinarian is necessary.

Apart from the physical symptoms, you may also notice changes in your cat’s behavior. They may hide or avoid contact with people or other animals. This is because cats instinctively know when they are vulnerable and prefer to isolate themselves to feel safer.

If you suspect your cat has a cold, it’s vital to keep an eye on their food and water intake. A decrease in appetite can lead to weight loss or even malnutrition if left untreated. Hence, monitoring their behavior and food intake is crucial.


Sneezing is the body’s way of clearing out foreign particles from the respiratory tract, and it’s also one of the most common signs of a cat cold. If you observe your furry friend sneezing more frequently than usual, it could be a tell-tale sign of a respiratory infection.

When a cat has a cold, their nasal passages become inflamed, causing irritation and excessive sneezing. While occasional sneezing is normal for cats, repeated sneezing should not be ignored. A respiratory infection left untreated can escalate to severe complications like pneumonia. Therefore, it’s vital to keep an eye out for related symptoms such as lethargy, loss of appetite, or decreased energy levels.

Apart from sneezing, you might also notice discharge from your cat’s nose. The discharge can range from clear to cloudy and from thin liquid to thick mucus. If you do see these symptoms, seek veterinary assistance immediately.

Your vet can perform a thorough physical examination and recommend treatment options such as antibiotics or antiviral drugs. Meanwhile, you can help alleviate some of the symptoms by ensuring your cat remains hydrated and providing them with a warm and cozy environment.

Watery Eyes or Discharge

One telltale sign of a possible cold is watery eyes or discharge, which can indicate respiratory inflammation or congestion. But before you start worrying, it’s important to know that not all eye discharge is created equal. To determine if it’s a sign of a cold or another health issue, take note of the color and consistency.

If you observe your cat’s eyes watering excessively or see discharge around their eyes, first check the color. Clear or slightly cloudy discharge is usually not a cause for alarm and may be caused by environmental factors like allergies or dust. However, if the discharge is yellow or green and accompanied by other symptoms such as sneezing and coughing, it could signal a more serious respiratory infection.

It’s essential to bear in mind that watery eyes or discharge can also result from other health issues such as eye infections or allergies. Therefore, it’s always advisable to consult with your veterinarian if you’re unsure about your cat’s symptoms. Your vet can help identify the underlying cause and recommend appropriate treatment to alleviate their symptoms and prevent further complications.

Decreased Appetite

Keep a close eye on their appetite, as a decreased appetite can be one of the most common symptoms. While it may seem like a small issue, it can have significant consequences for your cat’s health.

When a cat has a cold, they can experience congestion in their nose, which affects their sense of smell. Since smell plays a vital role in their appetite, this makes food less appealing to them. Consequently, your cat may show disinterest in food or only eat small amounts.

If you notice that your cat is not eating as much as usual, it is essential to monitor their eating habits closely. If they have not eaten for more than 24 hours, it is crucial to take them to the vet immediately as this could lead to other health problems.

However, there are steps you can take to help your cat during this time. Providing them with foods that are high in protein and nutrients can help keep their strength up. Wet food with added water can also help increase hydration levels, which is particularly important during an illness.

If you suspect that your cat has a cold and is showing signs of a decreased appetite, it is crucial to monitor their eating habits and provide them with the right foods. Seeking veterinary attention if necessary can also ensure that they get back to their usual eating habits as soon as possible, and most importantly, stay healthy.


That’s why it’s crucial to pay attention to their coughing habits, which is a common sign of a cold or other underlying medical conditions.

Just like humans, cats cough to clear their airways from mucus and irritants. But it’s essential to note that coughing can manifest in two ways – dry or wet. A dry cough is usually a hacking sound that may indicate respiratory infection, allergies, or feline asthma. Meanwhile, a wet cough indicates the presence of mucus in the cat’s airways and may be accompanied by wheezing or difficulty breathing.

If your cat is coughing frequently, it’s essential to take note of the type of cough and how often it occurs. This information will be helpful in determining the underlying cause of the cough and whether it’s a cold or another respiratory infection.

Coughing associated with a cold is not something to dismiss lightly as it’s usually accompanied by other signs such as sneezing, runny nose, and watery eyes. If your cat presents these symptoms, it’s best to seek veterinary attention immediately. The veterinarian will perform a thorough physical examination and may recommend additional tests such as blood work or x-rays to determine the underlying cause of the cough.

It’s worth noting that coughing in cats can also be a sign of more severe respiratory illnesses such as feline asthma or pneumonia. These conditions require prompt medical attention, and delaying treatment can lead to serious health complications for your fur baby.

Lethargy or Lack of Energy

So, when your always playful and active cat becomes lethargic and lacks energy, it can be quite alarming. This could be a sign that your cat has caught a cold or is suffering from a more serious health condition.

Lethargy or lack of energy is one of the common symptoms that cats with a cold may exhibit. If your cat is sleeping more than usual and seems uninterested in playing or interacting with you, it could be an indication that they have caught a cold. However, it’s essential to keep in mind that lethargy can also be a symptom of other health issues.

If you notice that your cat is also experiencing sneezing, coughing, or a runny nose, it’s more likely that they have a cold. In such cases, it’s crucial to monitor them closely and ensure they are eating and drinking enough water. Also, keep an eye on their litter box habits as any changes could indicate that they need veterinary care.

But, lethargy can also be a warning sign of more severe health problems such as an infection or underlying medical condition. If your cat’s lethargy persists for more than a day or two, it’s important to consult with your veterinarian without delay to rule out any underlying health issues and get your cat the care they need.

Why it’s Important to Seek Veterinary Care Early On

If your cat seems out of sorts and under the weather, it may indicate a cold or upper respiratory infection. But why is it crucial to seek veterinary care early on in these cases?

One compelling reason is that cats can develop severe complications from colds if left untreated. Pneumonia and bronchitis are just two examples of life-threatening conditions that can arise if the illness is not promptly addressed. Seeking veterinary care early on can help ensure that your cat receives the necessary treatment to prevent such complications from occurring.

How Do You Tell If A Cat Has A Cold-2

Another reason is that cats are notorious for hiding their pain and illness, making it difficult to determine if they are sick. This means that by the time you detect any changes in their behavior, the sickness may have already progressed. Seeking veterinary care early on can help detect any potential health issues before they become more serious.

Additionally, some symptoms of a cat cold can also indicate other health issues like allergies or asthma. A veterinarian will be able to accurately diagnose your cat’s condition and offer appropriate treatment. This means that early intervention can help prevent more severe complications down the line.

How to Prevent Your Cat from Getting a Cold in the First Place

One of the most common health issues that cats face is the common cold, which can be easily avoided with some simple preventive measures. In this post, we’ll discuss five effective ways to prevent your cat from catching a cold in the first place.

Keep their environment clean and healthy

Just like humans, cats need a clean living environment to stay healthy. Regular cleaning of their litter box, bedding, and toys can help eliminate any potential sources of bacteria or viruses. Additionally, providing your cat with plenty of fresh water and a nutritious diet can help boost their immune system and keep them healthy.

Limit exposure to sick animals

If you have multiple cats, it’s important to keep them separated if one of them is showing signs of illness. Similarly, avoid taking your cat to places where they may come into contact with other sick animals, such as the veterinarian’s office or pet stores.

Regular visits to the vet

Your veterinarian can provide vaccinations and other preventative measures that can help boost your cat’s immune system and protect them from common illnesses.

Keep your cat stress-free

Stress can weaken the immune system and make your cat more susceptible to illness. Providing plenty of love and attention, as well as creating a calm and comfortable environment for your cat, can go a long way in keeping them healthy and happy.

Seek veterinary attention early on

If you notice any symptoms of illness in your cat, such as sneezing or discharge from their nose or eyes, decrease in appetite, coughing, or lethargy, seek veterinary attention right away. Early intervention can help prevent the development of more serious health issues and ensure your cat recovers quickly.

Differentiating Between a Cat Cold and Other Illnesses

However, there are some key differences that you should be aware of.

The duration of symptoms is one of the primary ways to differentiate between a cat cold and other illnesses. A typical cat cold lasts for about 7-10 days, whereas other illnesses can last much longer. For example, feline herpesvirus may cause symptoms for several weeks or even months. So if your cat’s symptoms persist beyond the usual timeframe for a cold, it’s best to consult with your vet.

Another way to distinguish between a cat cold and other illnesses is by the severity of symptoms. A cat cold usually results in mild symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, and watery eyes. However, other illnesses can cause more severe symptoms such as fever, loss of appetite, and lethargy. If your feline friend appears to be experiencing severe symptoms or has stopped eating or drinking, it’s time to seek veterinary attention.

It’s also essential to note that some cats may carry certain illnesses without displaying any symptoms themselves. This means that even if your cat seems healthy, they could still spread an infection to other cats. This is why regular vet visits and keeping your pet’s environment clean are critical in ensuring their overall health.

If you suspect that your cat may have an illness other than a cold, do not hesitate to take them to the vet for a proper diagnosis. Your vet can conduct tests to determine the specific illness and provide appropriate treatment.

Treatments for Cats with Colds

But when they catch a cold, it can be stressful for both of us. Fear not, there are treatments available to help your cat recover and feel more comfortable.

First and foremost, your cat needs extra love and attention during this time. Create a cozy spot for them to rest, like a soft bed or a heated pad. You can also offer some extra playtime or cuddles to help them feel better.

Keeping your cat hydrated is crucial. Cats with colds may not feel like drinking water, which can lead to dehydration. Ensure they have access to fresh water at all times, and consider offering wet food to help keep them hydrated.

Steam therapy is another effective treatment for cats with colds. Take your cat into a small bathroom and run hot water in the shower to create steam. Sit with your cat in the bathroom for 10-15 minutes, making sure they don’t get too close to the hot water. Alternatively, you can use a humidifier in your home to increase humidity levels.

Saline drops can also help clear your cat’s nasal passages and make it easier for them to breathe. You can purchase saline drops specifically made for cats at most pet stores or online. Just follow the instructions on the package carefully when administering the drops.

If your cat’s cold symptoms persist for more than two weeks or if they are showing signs of more severe illness, it’s important to take them to the vet for a check-up. Your vet may prescribe medication to help alleviate your cat’s symptoms or treat any underlying conditions that may be causing their cold.

When to Call the Vet for Help with a Cat Cold

You know when they’re acting unusual, and you can tell when something’s not right. So, when your kitty comes down with a cold, it’s essential to know when it’s time to call in the professionals.

Although some cases of cat colds can be managed at home, there are specific signs and symptoms that require immediate veterinary attention. If your cat is showing signs of lethargy, loss of appetite, or has a high fever exceeding 103°F, it’s time to schedule an appointment with your vet. These symptoms could indicate a more serious infection or illness like pneumonia, which requires prompt medical attention.

In addition to these symptoms, be on the lookout for other warning signs like difficulty breathing, wheezing, coughing, or discharge from the nose or eyes that lasts for more than a few days. These symptoms could indicate a severe respiratory infection or even a secondary bacterial infection that requires antibiotics to treat.

It’s also crucial to keep in mind that if you have multiple cats in your household and one has a cold, it’s best to keep them separated until they’ve fully recovered. Cat colds are highly contagious and can quickly spread between cats, so it’s necessary to take precautions to prevent the spread of illness.

If you’re ever unsure whether your cat’s symptoms warrant a trip to the vet, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and seek medical advice from a licensed veterinarian. They can help determine the best course of treatment for your cat’s individual needs and ensure they make a full recovery.


If you suspect your feline friend has caught a cold, there are several signs to look out for.

Keep an eye on their behavior – are they sneezing frequently or coughing? Do they seem lethargic and uninterested in their usual activities?

Keep an eye on their eyes and nose – discharge or excessive watering could be a sign of illness. If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s important to take your cat to the vet for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

Remember, just like humans, cats can catch colds too.