How Do Indoor Cats Get Colds and How to Take Care of Them?

Winter is here, and this means we should vary of the cold and flu season. Just like humans, pets can get sick when the weather turns bad. Still, one question worries many: How do indoor cats get colds? Is it even possible for your furry felines that stay inside to get sick? We have all the answers.

Can Cats Get Colds?

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Most people don’t know how do indoor cats get colds. In fact, you probably think colds are a consequence of cold weather.

This is why the illness is called in such a way, right? Wrong.

In humans, colds are typically a result of a virus or bacterial infection. As most viruses are species-specific, this means that cats and dogs can’t get human viruses.

In other words, if you have flu, your cat will stay safe – though there are some exceptions we’ll talk about. Felines have their own viruses and bacteria that can harm their quality of life.

If your cat shares toys, food bowls, or litter boxes with a sick cat, she can also get sick.

Unvaccinated cats, young kittens, and cats confined in catteries are the ones with the most significant risk of infection.

In cats, most colds, or rather upper respiratory infections, are caused by herpesviruses or caliciviruses.

Other common viruses that cats get are coronaviruses.

Luckily, feline herpesvirus is very susceptible to drying. Also, most disinfecants will destroy it.

However, it can survive up to a day outside the host. This means that you can spread it with your clothes or shoes, but only for a short while.

On the other hand, feline calicivirus is very resistant. It can survive outside of a cat for much longer. This also makes it easier to spread around.

How Do Indoor Cats Get Colds?

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Now you know what the common symptoms of cold in cats are, but one question still remains. How do indoor cats get cold if they stay inside all the time?

And how can you avoid it?

Cat colds are contagious, just like humans. Logically, this means that cats that spend time outdoors are more prone to getting colds.

Outdoor cats interact with each other, so they’ll spread viruses easier. On the other hand, indoor cats don’t have many places they can catch viruses in.

However, if an indoor cat does get sick, the disease will get spread easier in a confined space.

If your cat has a cold, chances are she has been in contact with another cat. If you’ve just adopted your kitty, she was probably near another sick cat.

This is especially the case if you’ve just adopted her or brought in another cat. It’s enough for your cat to be near another one, such as through the fence or the window net.

Also, cats might get sick from germs that are on your clothes, shoes, or hands. If you’ve been petting other cats, you might’ve been the one that carried the disease to them.

This happens rarely, but it isn’t impossible.

What Are the Symptoms of Cat Colds?

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Cold symptoms in cats are quite similar to symptoms humans experience. Some of the common signs that your kitty has a respiratory infection are:

These symptoms usually last seven to ten days before they get better on their own. On rare occasions, you will need to contact your vet.

Also, some colds have mild symptoms, while others can be quite severe. This can depend on your cat’s overall health, as well as on the disease itself.

Kittens are especially prone to getting severe colds that can endanger their life.

What makes cats different from other animals when they get a cold is their lack of appetite. This is because cats pick their food according to the sense of smell.

When their nose has a lot of discharge, they can’t smell their food. This causes them to stop eating altogether.

Severe inappetence can lead to dehydration, and this is likely to worsen the disease.

How to Care for Your Cat with a Cold

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Now that you know how do indoor cats get colds, it’s time to understand how to take care of her.

There are a few things you can do if your cat does have an upper respiratory infection.

The first thing you can do is to wipe off her nose and snout with a clean cloth. Treat their eyes with a cloth soaked in saline solution.

If you feel like the air is too dry, use a humidifier. This will make breathing more comfortable.

If even the humidifier doesn’t help with your cat’s breathing, or if you don’t have one, there is another solution.

Put your feline friend in her pet carrier and make sure she is calm. Then, put a bowl of hot, steamy water in front of the cage.

Cover both with a thin blanket for 10 to 15 minutes. Don’t keep her like that for longer than 15 minutes, as it will make her uncomfortable and worsen her breathing.

Make sure your cat keeps on eating and drinking throughout all of this. This will help her get better quicker. If she refuses to eat, try warming her food up.

Also, try switching to wet food, as it is easier to swallow. Your cat might have some issues swallowing, which is why she isn’t eating well.

At the same time, ensure she is staying warm. Give her an extra blanket or a piece of cloth and place it in her favorite sleeping spot.

You want her to curl in some warm, comfortable space.

Don’t ever attempt to give your sick cat human medication. Human medicine isn’t meant for animals, and you might even kill her.

In fact, don’t even try to give her pet medication unless your vet advised you to.

When to Seek Help from the Vet?

Not only most pet owners don’t know how do indoor cats get colds, they don’t know when to seek help. Just like with humans, cat colds are usually harmless.

They’ll go away in a week or two without any consequences. You’re still required to look after them. After approximately four days, you should see some signs of improvement.

If you don’t, you should call your local veterinarian. Long-lasting colds that you didn’t treat on time will develop into pneumonia, which can sometimes even be deadly.

Older cats and kittens are more prone to having bad upper respiratory infections.

The same goes for cats with some health conditions, such as FIV or FeLV, or nursing mother cats. Some of the main signs your cat needs extra care are:

  • Innapetance that lasts for over a day
  • Severe lethargy
  • Symptoms of an upper respiratory infection aren’t going away after 4-5 days
  • Breathing issues

If your cat has any of these symptoms, she might need some medication, such as antibiotics. Sometimes, a veterinarian might give her some supportive care, such as oxygen or fluid therapy. Chances are your cat might also have some undetected, underlying condition. These might be the reason behind your cat’s worsening condition.

Can Cats Get Coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a joint group of viruses that aren’t new to humans. In fact, some forms of coronavirus cause a common cold. While these coronaviruses can’t harm animals, there seems to be an exception with COVID-19, also known as SARS-CoV-2.

COVID-19 is a zoonotic coronavirus that spread from bats to humans, causing the 2020 pandemic.

Because it originated from animals, it isn’t the same as most other coronaviruses that have plagued humanity.

In fact, many pieces of research have proven that COVID-19 can infect ferrets and cats.

Cats are generally prone to animal coronaviruses. The same way, they can get sick with COVID-19.

The disease is spread from humans to cats, but also from an infected cat to a healthy one.

Keep in mind, though, that they won’t react to the virus the same way humans do. In other words, most infected cats won’t show any signs of illness.

A few tested felines did show common cold signs, but this wasn’t enough to endanger their life.

These ill cats are also considered an exception, and the chances of a cat getting sick are very slim.

It’s essential to note that there isn’t any proof that cats can further transmit COVID-19 to other humans.

Infected cats are deemed dangerous only for other cats in your household, and even that type of transmission is rare.

Still, if you want to ensure your felines are safe, don’t let your guests touch them often.

A social distancing should apply not just to people but to every household member. This way, you’ll ensure not just your own safety but the safety of your kitties, as well.

How to Prevent Your Cat from Getting a Cold?

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It isn’t enough to know how do indoor cats get colds; you also have to learn how to prevent them.

The first thing you should do is keep your cats indoors. However, since you’re here, chances are you are already doing that. So what can you do to help your indoor cats stay safe?

The best option is to disinfect your hands and clothes if you’ve been in contact with an outdoor cat.

This will ensure you won’t spread any microbes, such as viruses and microbes.

A good idea would be to use diluted bleach or any similar product. If one of your cats is sick, separate her from the other ones.

Disinfect food bowls, litter boxes, toys, and any places she was walking on. Keep in mind that a sick cat can spread viruses up to four feet away if she coughs or sneezes!

It would be best to keep her in a separate room entirely.

It’s worth noting that even cured cats can still spread diseases. In fact, up to 80% of felines stay contagious for months, sometimes even years.

They will look healthy but will carry viruses and spread them to other cats. These ‘carriers’ are the most common ways a cat cold is spread.

Sometimes, cats will get symptoms weeks after a virus got into their symptoms. Because of this, you should never pet your indoor kitties right after you’ve played with outdoor cats.

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Bottom Line

Just like humans, cats can get colds. There are many microbes that cause various diseases in felines.

These viruses won’t get you sick, and chances are you won’t get your kitties sick, either.

Just like you should know exactly how do indoor cats get colds, you need to know how to help them.

Untreated upper respiratory infections can have complications and ruin your kitty’s quality of life.

Keep in mind that, even though your cat is kept indoors, it can still get infected. Be on the lookout for any symptoms of the disease.