Published: 09:00, 09 February 2022
Just like us humans, our feline friends can also suffer from the common cold and flu. In fact, it can be serious and even fatal in cats and kittens with underlying illnesses.
That's why experts at All About Cats have revealed a few tips so you can be aware of whether your cat has a cold this winter, and how to help them.
What causes cat flu?
Feline upper respiratory infection, also known as the cat cold or cat flu, is similar to a human cold.
It is caused by one or more viruses and is generally spread by direct contact between cats through saliva, tears or nasal discharge.
Luckily, in most cases they are very minor, but more severe cases can sometimes lead to secondary infections, such as pneumonia.
More vulnerable cats, such as kittens, older cats, or those with underlying conditions, should be monitored and cared for very closely at the first sign of a cold.
You cannot catch a cold from a cat and vice versa, but it can be spread between cats.
What are the symptoms of a cat cold?
It can be quite simple to spot if you cat is ill, as the symptoms are quite similar to those when we catch a cold.
These include a runny nose, excessive coughing and sneezing, fever, loss of appetite and congestion.
Red watery eyes, dehydration, loss of voice, mouth ulcers, and dribbling are also common signs.
Doron Wolffberg, founder of All About Cats, explained how to take care of your cat and prevent them form getting the flu.
He said: "Imagine how you feel when you are unwell with a cold and feeling sorry for yourself. You want someone to look after you, feed you, keep you warm and help make you feel better again. Well, cats want and need the same thing.
"Thankfully, most cat colds are self-limiting and will resolve on their own, but as an owner it is your responsibility to make sure they don't take a turn for the worse, especially if they are older or vulnerable.
"There are things you can do to prevent your cat ever getting a cold, which you should try and incorporate into your lifestyle if possible. For example, poor air quality can be a factor and increase the chances of your cat getting a cold. Forced air heat in winter can also cause an increase in symptoms.
"Regular vet visits and a balanced diet helps maintain a healthy cat. Stress can be a main trigger so make sure you've got a chilled kitty. Be sure to get your cat vaccinated too. It is essential to remember not to give your cat any cold medicine without consulting your vet first."
Here are five tips on how to take care of your pet if they fall ill:
1. Help them breathe: using steam is recommended as it can help to loosen the mucus, ease the cold symptoms and help them breathe easier.
An easy way is to leave the door open when you are in the shower and let your cat hang out while you are washing.
A humidifier can also help soothe irritated airways.
2. Wipe nose and eyes: make sure to constantly clean your cat's eyes and nose, as it will help them feel better. It will also help them breathe easier, smell their food and encourage them to eat. The best way to wipe away any discharge is with a cotton wool pad soaked in warm water.
3. Keep them fed and hydrated: Dehydration is a main issue when cats have a cold, as they lose their sense of smell and taste. This can lead to them eating and drinking less.
Therefore, try mixing in strong smelling foods to their usual meal routine that are easy to eat, such as sardines, tuna or roast chicken.
A good tip is to warm the food to make the smell stronger.
Also, make sure that there's plenty of fresh water for them and refresh it regularly.
4. Make them comfy - Rest and sleep are essential to make your cat feel better. So ensure they have a nice warm and cosy spot where they can rest undisturbed.
5. Reduce stress - Because cats are very sensitive, they can often become anxious and stressed by their environment, which can impact their immune system health.
This can make your cats' cold worse, so make sure to keep them as comfy and relaxed as possible.