How Long Does A Cat Cold Last? Understanding The Cause Of Feline Flu | Kidadl

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How Long Does A Cat Cold Last? Understanding The Cause Of Feline Flu

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Just like a cold in humans, feline flu is contagious and can easily spread among cats.

Cat colds are usually caused by a feline upper respiratory infection, which can either be bacterial or viral. If your cat shows symptoms of feline flu, such as trouble breathing, chances are that it may have been hanging out with an infected cat lately.

The feline upper respiratory infection is highly contagious and spreads between cats via saliva. However, the feline flu can also spread in indirect ways, like sharing the same water or food bowl, litter tray, or mutual contact with a human being. Although the feline flu only affects cats, other animals and humans can spread the disease while not being affected themselves. There are some precautions that you should use to keep your pet safe and in good health, and it is a good idea to see a veterinarian to get your cat treated if you think it isn't being its usual self. After reading about bacterial infections, such as upper respiratory infections, why not check out our articles about whether snake plants are toxic to cats and how often cats need rabies shots?

When should I take my cat to the vet for a cold?

Just like a cold in humans, an upper respiratory infection in cats does not have a scientific cure, but that doesn't mean you should leave your adorable kitty untreated. The question is: how do you distinguish a small infection from something more serious?

Some colds will get better on their own without veterinary care. But if you notice your cat’s symptoms getting worse or if your cat is quite old and already has underlying health problems, it's a good idea to get your pet treated by the veterinarian. This is because upper respiratory infections in cats, if left untreated, can sometimes worsen and may even cause more serious or even life-threatening problems, such as pneumonia, blindness and coughing blood. Normally, cat colds go away within a week, though in some cases it can take up to 21 days for a sick cat to recover. However, if your cat shows no signs of recovery after the initial four days or takes longer than 10 days to recover completely, then it's time to seek a veterinarian's help.

How do I know if my cat has a cold?

Colds can be troublesome for both humans and animals alike, but to get a proper diagnosis and treatment, early detection and a visit to the vet is usually necessary. Below is a list of signs and symptoms to look out for if you think your kitten might have caught a cold.

There can be various signs of an upper respiratory infection in cats which may differ, but most symptoms are similar to the ones seen in humans when they catch a cold. These symptoms include constant sneezing, runny cat's nose, runny cat's eyes, discomfort, lack of energy, unusual behavior, mild fever, dehydration, loss of appetite (meaning it doesn't want to eat), and loss of sense of smell. If your cat is also coughing, it could be a sign of an inflammatory problem, such as a lower respiratory infection.

Causes Of Sneezing In Cats

A normal occasional sneeze is nothing to worry about. A sneeze is usually a reflex reaction of the body when it inhales alien particles, such as pollen. It does this in an attempt to prevent infection or cleanse the nasal cavity. However, constant sneezing may indicate that your cat has caught an upper respiratory infection, especially if the cat's nose is runny. These infections are quite common and are mostly seen in young kittens, as they have relatively weaker immune systems. They are especially common in kittens that have been recently adopted from animal shelters. However, sneezing can also be caused by other infections, which can be prevented with a visit to the vet for timely vaccinations. Viral infections that can cause continuous sneezing include the following.

Feline Herpesvirus: Cats can catch herpes from a variety of sources, including exposure to other infected cats. Excessive stress can also make the infection worse and make treatment difficult. Although there's no cure for the virus itself, treatment from the vet can help soothe the symptoms.

Feline Calicivirus: This virus is mostly responsible for feline flu, as it is highly contagious, spreading through contact with other cats. The most painful and troublesome symptom of this viral infection is if they develop mouth ulcers. In serious cases, feline calicivirus can severely affect the upper respiratory tract, which can cause an illness such as pneumonia if left untreated.

These infections may weaken your cat’s immune system, which can, in turn, make your pet more susceptible to developing other respiratory issues that can cause excessive sneezing, give your cat a runny nose or runny eyes, cause it to have difficulty breathing or lead to another illness. For example, a cat that has caught herpes may have increased chances of developing an additional bacterial infection. Fortunately, unlike viral infections, bacterial infections can usually be cured easily with the help of antibiotics.

Feline Infectious Peritonitis: The symptom of this infection depends upon a cat's individual immunity. In some felines, it may not cause any symptoms, while in other cats the symptoms can range from mild to severe.

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus: This infection may take time to fully develop, but it has a serious impact on your cat’s immune system, including a complete loss of appetite. Not eating enough can make your pet weaker, making it highly susceptible to getting other serious infections like feline leukemia.

How long is a cat contagious with a cold?

We mentioned above that the upper respiratory infection in cats is highly contagious and can spread amongst them very easily. If you have more than a few cats, it might be difficult to keep the infected cat isolated from the others. So, the question is: how long is a cat a threat to other cats?

When a cat catches the infection from a contaminated surface like a water bowl or from another infected cat, it will usually go through an initial incubation period of 2-10 days before showing any noticeable symptoms. If the infection is mild, it will last for about 7-21 days before your cat is fully healthy again, depending on the kind of virus. On average, the infection should not last for more than a week or should start to fade away after this time period. Between the time of infection and complete recovery, cats are highly contagious.

If a cat becomes infected with the herpesvirus, it becomes a carrier for its entire life, which means that even after it is cured, it will still be able to infect other cats. In some felines, the virus can get reactivated at any point in their life due to causes like constant stress and depression. Cats with calicivirus also have a 50% chance of becoming lifelong carriers. In many cases of infection, the cats move on from the vector (carrier) stage after a couple of months, but in some cases, the vector stage can last a lifetime.

Chronic infections in cats can lead to fever and require tests to determine treatment for the bacteria.

What causes a feline upper respiratory infection?

Upper respiratory infections in cats are usually caused by viruses. About 90% of the severe infections that affect cats are viral and, as we mentioned above, there's a high chance of infection in cats born in shelters or multi-cat households. Some major causes of upper respiratory infection are herpesvirus, calicivirus, chlamydia, Bordetella, and fungus.

Feline viruses are generally found in the infected cat’s saliva, tears, or nasal secretions. These infections are highly contagious and spread easily through direct contacts, like touching, licking, coughing, and sneezing. Viruses can also survive on various surfaces that cats might share with each other, like food or water bowls and litter trays.

How is cat flu diagnosed?

Diagnosis of feline flu usually depends on the type of cold symptoms a cat is showing and their severity. A veterinarian will start by carrying out a physical examination of the poorly cat. If the symptoms are severe, then the veterinarian might take a swab from the cat’s inner cheek or mouth to test it for viral culture. This helps in identifying the type of virus that is causing the cold symptoms in a sick cat.

The cat flu treatment usually depends on the symptoms and causes. However, as with the human cold, a cat cold cannot be cured, the treatment is only aimed at soothing the symptoms and clearing nasal passages, ears, and watery eyes.

How can I treat my cat’s cold naturally?

As we now know, there is no cure for medically treating severe cases of a cat’s cold, and the veterinary care treatment only aims at providing relief for the symptoms. There are, however, some remedies that can help calm your cat’s cold just as effectively as traditional medicines without the help of a veterinarian. Some of these remedies are listed below.

A cat's runny or stuffy nose and ulcers can prevent your cat from eating or drinking, causing weakness and dehydration, so make sure your cat drinks enough water to stay hydrated.

If your cat loses its appetite, gently warming its canned food can help tempt it to eat more.

Use a humidifier to help clear your cat's nasal passage and make breathing more comfortable.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our article about how long a cat cold lasts, then why not take a look at these Australian mist cat facts or find out if roses are poisonous to cats?

The Kidadl Team is made up of people from different walks of life, from different families and backgrounds, each with unique experiences and nuggets of wisdom to share with you. From lino cutting to surfing to children’s mental health, their hobbies and interests range far and wide. They are passionate about turning your everyday moments into memories and bringing you inspiring ideas to have fun with your family.

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