Can cats catch colds from humans? Dr Ali Raza, a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine says – No, cats can not catch colds from humans.
Dr Raza, goes on to explain. In simple terms, only feline viruses infect cats. Viruses causing colds in humans do not affect cats.
Note: Humans can act as a medium for the transmission of virus for colds in cats. For example, if you touch and interact with a cat that has a cold and then touch the healthy cat, the healthy cat can get infected.
However, the chances of transmission like this are few and far between. As a precautionary measure, you should refrain from touching outdoor cats. Wash your hands before touching your cat to prevent accidental transmission of any pathogen.
Only zoonotic diseases are transmitted between humans and cats.
A zoonosis (zoonotic disease or zoonoses -plural) is an infectious disease that is transmitted between species from animals to humans (or from humans to animals). Here is more information about zoonotic diseases concerning cats if you are interested in reading further.
A Description Of A Cat Cold
Cat colds are infections of the upper respiratory tract.
Apart from their common name of cat colds, they are commonly referred to as Upper Respiratory Infection (URI).
They can be of bacterial or viral origin. Most commonly, herpes viruses are responsible for causing colds in cats.
How Do Cats Catch Colds?
Cat colds are contagious which means that they can be transmitted from one cat to another.
Transmission from one cat to other is through saliva, nasal or eye discharge etc.
Outdoor cats are more likely to suffer from colds than indoor cats.
This is due to the fact the outdoor cats interact with other cats (more frequently than indoor cats) and can get viral pathogens that cause colds.
Can Cats Catch Colds From Each Other?
Yes, cats can catch colds from sick cats.
The major reason for cats getting colds is through transmission from already infected cats. You should not let your cat interact with outdoor cats freely because they have a high chance of transmitting the infection to your cat.
Related: How do different cat breeds adapt to cope with the cold? Some cats are bred in cold climates. How do other cats cope?
If your cat comes in contact with a cat that’s suffering from a cold it does not necessarily mean that your cat will catch the cold.
The immune system of your cat can beat the virus if it is strong enough.
If your cat is stressed or has a weak immune system, the chances of her getting sick are increased.
Symptoms Of Cat Colds
Your cat can show all or some of the symptoms mentioned below if it has caught a cold. The severity of symptoms varies from cat to cat.
- Excessive sneezing or coughing
- Runny nose
- Discharge from the eyes
- Mild fever
- Lethargic and reluctant to move due to muscle pain or energy deficit
- Reduced appetite
In severe cases, ulcers in the mouth and dehydration can also be seen.
Can I Catch A Cold From My Cat?
No, the viruses that cause disease in cats do not affect humans. You can take care of your cat suffering from a cold without any fear of catching the cold yourself.
Should I Take My Cat To The Vet For A Cold?
Cat colds are usually harmless but you should monitor the health of your cat regularly. If the condition deteriorates, you should see your vet.
Cat colds usually go away within a week but if the symptoms persist after a week, you should make an appointment with your vet.
If the cat does not recover from the cold and it is left untreated, this can lead to disastrous consequences like pneumonia.
The persistence of symptoms can also be due to any underlying disease condition other than cold. Your vet will confirm the disease diagnosis using different blood or body secretions tests.
Take special care of kittens and old cats because they have weaker immune systems. These cats are at higher risk of catching a cold and show severe symptoms as well.
If you have a cat that is immunocompromised and is showing signs of cold, make an appointment with your vet.
How Do You Treat A Cat With A Cold?
Treating a cat with a cold does not require any specific medicine. Colds have no drug of choice.
Colds being viral, lack proper treatment and only supportive treatment is given to the cat to help its immune system cope with the disease.
Antibiotics don’t fight off viruses but are sometimes administered when there is a cold to avoid any secondary infections and help the immune system.
If your cat is congested, you should clear the discharge from the nose to help her overcome any breathing difficulties. Use a clean cloth and wipe the discharge from eyes and nose.
Provide a soft bed for your cat. Clean it daily to minimize the chances of reinfection. If possible, increase the humidity of the room with a vaporizer.
Give your cat plenty of food and water. Make sure the cat is eating because most cats refuse to eat properly when sick.
Vaccination for Upper Respiratory Infection (URI)
Prevention is better than cure. You can protect your cat against getting colds by vaccinating her annually.
The first shot is given around nine weeks of age and a booster is given annually.
Keep in mind that a vaccine is prevention only and it may not help your cat if she has already contracted the disease.
So be smart and get your cat immunized.