Can You Catch a Cold From Your Cat?

Pet owners often consider their feline friends as family members, sharing their homes and lives. This close bond raises questions about the transmission of common illnesses between humans and their pets.

One frequently asked question is: Can you catch a cold from your cat? This article explores this intriguing query, discussing the symptoms of cat colds, appropriate actions when your cat catches a cold, and the possibility of cross-species transmission of the common feline colds.

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Can Cats Catch a Cold?

Cats, just like humans, can catch a cold. This is often referred to as a feline upper respiratory infection (URI) in the feline world. Cat colds, or cat flu, are primarily caused by two of the most common viruses: Feline Herpesvirus type-1 (FHV-1) or Feline Calicivirus (FCV). 

These viruses are contagious among cats, meaning outdoor cats or those in multi-cat households, and unvaccinated cats are more likely to contract them. However, the term “cat cold” is a bit misnamed because, unlike human colds, these feline illnesses aren’t correlated with cold weather. 

Nevertheless, lower temperatures can weaken a cat’s immune system, potentially making them more susceptible to viral infections. It’s important to note that cat colds are species-specific, which means a sick cat cannot transmit illness to humans or other types of pets.

What Are The Symptoms of Colds in Cats?

Cats with colds or upper respiratory infections typically exhibit various symptoms that may indicate they’re not feeling well. Here are some common signs:

  1. Sneezing: This is one of the most common symptoms. Cats with a cold often sneeze frequently and forcefully.
  2. Runny Nose: Cats with a cold may have a runny or stuffy nose. The nasal discharge can be clear or colored (yellow or green), which could indicate a secondary bacterial infection.
  3. Watery Eyes: Cats can also have watery eyes(runny eyes) or eye discharge, which may be cloudy or clear discharge.
  4. Coughing: Similar to humans, cats with a cold may cough and have difficulty breathing. 
  5. Fever: They may also have a fever, indicating their body is fighting off an infection.
  6. Loss of Appetite: Cats with a cold may lose their appetite or have difficulty eating due to a stuffy nose.
  7. Lethargy: They may seem less active than usual or appear unwell.
  8. Ulcers in the Mouth: Some cats with a cold, especially those infected with Feline Calicivirus, may develop ulcers in their mouth.

Remember, if your cat exhibits any of these symptoms, especially severe symptoms, it’s important to get advice from your vet for an accurate diagnosis of your pet and treatment plan.

What Should You Do If Your Cat Has a Cold?

If you have an infected cat with a cold, there are several steps you can take to help them feel more comfortable and recover while you watch for signs of improvement:

  1. Wipe Their Nose and Eyes: Use a damp, clean cloth to gently wipe your cat’s runny nose and eyes. This can help to clear any discharge and make them more comfortable.
  2. Provide a Humid Environment: Keep your cat with you in the bathroom while you take a hot shower. The humidity can help relieve nasal congestion.
  3. Keep Them Hydrated and Well-Fed: Cats with a cold may lose their appetite, but it’s important they continue to eat and drink. Try warming their food to make it more appealing. You can also try some extra special wet cat food.
  4. Make them Comfortable: Provide a warm and quiet place for your cat to rest. Maybe give them an extra blanket for comfort.
  5. Monitor Their Symptoms: Keep an eye on your cat’s symptoms. If they worsen or don’t improve after a week, it’s time to seek medical advice from a vet.
  6. Consult a Vet if Necessary: While many colds can be managed at home, some may require veterinary attention. If you have a young kitten or older cat with a persisting cold or other health issues, seeking veterinary care for medical treatment is especially important.

Can You Catch a Cold From Your Cat?

The good news is that you cannot catch a cold from your furry friend. Colds in cats are primarily caused by two types of viruses mentioned above. These viruses are species-specific, which means they are not transmissible to humans. 

While you and your cat can be sick simultaneously, it would be extremely rare for this to be due to transmission of the same virus between you. Most viruses that cause colds in one species won’t survive in a host of a different species. 

Can Your Cat Catch a Cold From You?

In the same way, your cat cannot catch a cold from you. While cats can exhibit similar symptoms to human colds, these are typically caused by viruses that are specific to cats. These cold viruses are species-specific and do not transmit between humans and cats.

However, it’s important to note that while your cat can’t catch your cold, they can still get their version of a “cold” virus. Cats can end up with cold-like symptoms from these viruses. And just like colds in humans, cat colds are contagious amongst cats.

Final Thoughts On Catching a Cold From Your Cat

In conclusion, the bond between humans and their feline friends is close, but it doesn’t extend to the sharing of colds. The viruses that cause colds in cats and humans are species-specific, meaning they do not transmit across species. Therefore, you can’t catch a cold from your cat, nor can they catch one from you. 

However, it’s important always to practice good hygiene and consult with a vet if your cat shows prolonged cold symptoms. The health and well-being of our feline friend is, after all, a reflection of the care and affection we bestow upon them.

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