Can Cats Get Colds?
Can cats catch colds? Yes, cats can end up with cold symptoms from their version of the "cold" virus. They cannot, however, catch human colds and only catch the flu in rare circumstances. If your sweet kitty is acting like she has a cold, there's a lot you can do to help her feel better.
Cold Symptoms in Cats
Although cats can't catch human colds, they can develop symptoms similar to the human cold from other viruses.1 When a cat catches a cold, he may sneeze, have watery eyes, a runny or congested nose, a mild fever, or less energy than usual. These symptoms can last five to ten days. When dogs catch a cold, the symptoms are similar.
What many people commonly refer to as the "cat flu" is typically the same thing as a cat cold.2 Most often, a cat cold will be mild but can be more severe in certain situations.
Caring for Your Cat at Home
It's always a good idea to check with your veterinarian if your cat has any cold symptoms to make sure you're doing everything you can for your fur baby. Once you have the vet's okay, you can do a lot at home to keep your cat as comfy and happy as possible while she recovers.
First, make sure your cat has plenty of water. Staying hydrated is important when your kitty has a cold. The K&H CleanFlow Filtered Water Bowl for Cats is a great option, and it's also dishwasher safe, making cleaning easy. You might also want to give her extra-tasty food since she might not taste or smell quite as well while she's congested.
Your cat will be purrrfectly thankful for a cuddly bed when she's sick so that she can get a lot of sleep. The Self-Warming Nuzzle Nest doesn't need to be plugged in, and its unique insulation helps it absorb your pet's body heat. If your cat prefers an enclosed bed, try the K&H Self-Warming Hut. If your kitten is sick, she might enjoy one of the Mother's Heartbeat items. These products mimic the soothing sounds and feels of a mother cat's heartbeat and help reduce anxiety and stress in kittens.
If your home is a little chillier and you want a bed that plugs in and heats up a little more, consider the Thermo-Kitty Bed to keep your cat warm while she recovers from her cold. This bed has a fleece cover and heats to your cat's natural body temperature. If your cat prefers a covered bed, try the Thermo-Kitty Bed Deluxe Hooded with a zip-on, zip-off hood or the Thermo-Lookout Pod, which is fully enclosed and has a window at the top where you can peek in on your kitty from time to time.
Your cat might also need a little low-key entertainment while she's getting better. A window perch like the EZ Mount Kittyface Window Bed lets her lie down comfortably while watching the world outside. You can even mount her food nearby with the EZ Mount Up and Away Diner.
Because some cat viruses can be passed to other cats, you might need to isolate your kitty from your other pets. Ask your veterinarian if this is the best move while your cat is sick.
Can Cats Catch the Actual Flu?
Although most people are simply referring to a cat cold when talking about their cat having the flu, there actually are influenza viruses that cats can catch. However, these are rarer and less likely to be the cause of your cat's cold symptoms. When the H1N1 flu spread in 2011 and 2012, researchers found 13 cats that caught the flu virus from humans.4 In New York City, some cat shelters had an outbreak of the H7N2 bird flu in cats.5
The CDC notes the risk of a human catching the flu from a cat is very rare, and in most cases when it's passed from humans to cats, the symptoms are quite mild.6 Because there are so many viruses that can cause cold-like symptoms in cats, it's a good idea to talk to your veterinarian if you notice any.
Many different viruses can cause cold-like symptoms in cats. The good news is your cat cannot catch your cold. If you notice cold symptoms in your fur baby, this is the perfect time to spoil her with tasty treats and a warm, comfy bed.
1. Animal Clinic of Woodruff. "When Pets Get the Sniffles: Understanding Cold Symptoms in Dogs and Cats." AnimalClinicofWoodruff.com, https://www.animalclinicofwoodruff.com/pet-blog/87/When+pets+get+the+sniffles+Understanding+cold+symptoms+in+dogs+and+cats.
2. Blue Cross for Pets. "Cat Flu." BlueCross.org.uk, 9 October 2019, https://www.bluecross.org.uk/pet-advice/cat-flu.
4. Oregon State University. "Can You Really Give Your Dog or Cat the Flu?" Today.OregonState.edu, 3 October 2012, https://today.oregonstate.edu/archives/2012/oct/onset-flu-season-raises-concerns-about-human-pet-transmission.
5. CDC. "H7N2 Questions & Answers." CDC.gov, 7 September 2018, https://www.cdc.gov/flu/other/flu-in-cats/h7n2-cat-faq.html.
6. CDC. "Influenza in Cats." CDC.gov, 27 September 2018, https://www.cdc.gov/flu/other/flu-in-cats/index.html.