Are cat colds aka the sniffles more serious than you think?

Our wee tortoiseshell girl, Buffy, has had the worst cold and is currently suffering from sneezes, runny nose and gunky eyes. Worried that this cat cold might turn into cat flu, which is dangerous for kitties, we asked the vet what we needed to look out for, and how we could prevent our other cats from getting ill.

We first noticed Buffy getting ill over a week ago, but over the weekend, she seemed to be worse than she had been last week. Rather than getting better, her runny nose and gunky eyes were still the same and, as with human colds, after over a week of showing symptoms, we figured it was time to get advice from her vet. Thankfully Buffy still has her appetite, but as she’d been more lethargic than usual – not something easy to distinguish now she’s nearing 10 and tends to lie around a lot as standard – we decided it was better to be safe than sorry and run her down to the vets for a check over yesterday morning.

The vet told us that she was fine and it was a cat cold, or the sniffles, but explained to us that if she kept sneezing on a daily basis for any length of time and if her symptoms did not get any better by the middle of next week, we would need to bring her back in.

Why the sniffles is (s)not a joke

It may seem like a cute thing for kitties to get the sniffles, but in fact cat colds are a danger to your kitty as what starts as a mild virus can easily turn into an upper respiratory infection or cat flu, which can kill kittens and older cats.

The vet advised us to separate Buffy from our other cats so they don’t get it too but, as that’s not a very easy thing to do in a house of four and will not prevent the spread of infection, just help minimise it, we took her home and settled her back in her bed, on my work desk, with the wee heater on and the door partially closed to give her a warm space away from the others to rest.

Soon enough however little Loki had crept in and lay down next to his sister to keep her company. I think they know when the others need them, our four, as they do that to the Hubby Jim and I when we are ill too.

Cat cold symptoms

We’ll keep you updated on how she is getting on but, in the meantime, if you’re unsure whether your cat too has the sniffles, here are the most common symptoms of a cat cold:

  • Sneezing
  • Nasal discharge and/or gunky eyes
  • Coughing
  • Raspy and/or laboured breathing
  • Ulcers
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite

Prevent the cold spreading

If your cat is exhibiting any of these, follow the simple tips below, to help prevent your other cats getting it too:

  • Vaccinate you cat – this is a yearly thing, similar to our own flu jabs – and you can get this booked at and done by your local vet
  • Launder all of your cats bedding and any towels, blankets, pillows that they have come into contact with or slept on
  • Try to minimise any stress as stress inflames illness in kitties
  • Have your sickly cat examined by a vet and, if they advise, get them cat cold medications – but do not ever give them any over the counter medications that you would take for a cold or flu, as they can be extremely dangerous to cats as their ingredients are toxic to our furry feline friends.

Most cats with viruses such as colds are able to get over the illness in a few weeks or less, but if they are still struggling with the symptoms after that, they may have something more serious like an upper respiratory infection. Symptoms of that include congested breathing, blood in any mucus around their eyes, nasal discharge being thicker and/or discoloured, creamy and non-clear.

In that instance, especially if your cat’s symptoms after a week or so have been getting worse, not better, is to immediately seek your vet’s advice. A trip to the vet sooner rather than later may save your cat’s life in that instance and, in our case, Buffy is our oldest wee girlie and we’ve had her for over 10 years now, so she’s definitely worth it!





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