Is it “starve a fever, feed a cold,” or is it the other way around? This adage may be an old wives’ tale grounded in holistic remedies, but it may also apply to the cold your cat seems to have as well.
Does My Cat Have a Cold?
Sneezing doesn't mean that your cat essentially has a cold.It’s definitely cute and Facebook-worthy when your cat sneezes multiple times in a row, but should you be worried that he’s sick? Sneezing is the body’s defense mechanism used to expel irritants. If Fluffy doesn’t appear ill or tired, he could have allergies to airborne irritants such as carpet fresheners, or to temporary irritants such as the dust bunny he uncovered under the couch. But what if your cat is sluggish and not eating or drinking? Keep an eye on your furry friend for a day and if he’s still refusing to eat and play, keeps sneezing repeatedly, looks miserable, and is battling a runny nose and tearing eyes, the diagnosis may be more serious.
Feline Upper Respiratory Infection (URI)
Feline URI is life threatening to your cat. Scary, right? There are several viruses and bacteria that cause respiratory disorders in your kitty and while you don’t need to know them by name, you do need to spot the symptoms we mentioned above ASAP. Letting things run its course is not a good idea. It’s not like you can prop your cat in bed and force him to drink orange juice or take zinc tablets to get better. Not only is your cat’s infection contagious to other cats through saliva or discharge while they’re actively sick, they may be carriers harboring the illness even when they seem fine. Some cats may become chronic carriers susceptible to recurrence for the rest of their lives. Your vet may do blood work and other tests to determine the cause of the infection, prescribe medications, and rule out other causes for your cat’s unwell state such as feline leukemia.
Prevention and Treatment
Before you bring a cat home you should have them physically examined and vaccinated. Those vaccines are your first defense against respiratory illnesses. Keeping those shots up to date is an important step some people forget. Indoor cats are not protected from the viruses and bacteria that you may unknowingly bring home to them. Are you diligent about your sanitary practices? You don’t have to walk around hand-sanitizing everything, but you should always wash your hands before petting your cat, especially during cold and flu season. Make sure your pet’s bowls are washed in hot, soapy water daily, just like the dishes you eat from. The litter box should also be sanitized with Lysol or Clorox (1/2 cup of bleach to 1 gallon of water) and thoroughly rinsed clean weekly. Make sure your cat is hydrated by providing clean, cool water nearby throughout the day.
Proper hydration is not only important for your pet, but for your home as well. Dry air conditions are terrible on respiratory tissues in the nose and lungs. Use a cool mist humidifier to add moisture to your home without feeling like you’re stuck in a rain forest of hot humidity. Always feed your cat quality food for overall immune health. Remember, they may not be able to smell the food you put out during a time of illness, so you’ll need to encourage your cat to eat small portions of food by spoon or fingertip if necessary. Manage eye and nose discharge by using 3 clean cotton balls moistened in warm water: one for each eye and the nose so you don’t spread the contamination. Properly dispose of the cotton balls immediately and wash your hands. If your cat’s discharge is anything but clear, you may have an infection on your hands. Try a holistic approach for your cat by using Apple Cider Vinegar with a 50% water dilution and apply it to your cat’s paws. They lick their paws and ingest the cider. Quarantine other cats from the sick one; watch the healthy ones for incubating illnesses. Keep your cat quiet to recoup his energy and allow him to get lots of healing sleep. Having that pouncing, purring buddy back will be your reward.