Can Cats Get Colds?


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Our question this week was:

Dr. Debra – can cats get colds? My cat has the sniffles and I was just wondering if cats get colds.

John S.


Hi – thanks for your email. You wrote asking if cats get colds. Well, a "cold" is contagious viral infection generally affecting the upper respiratory infection. Common signs are sneezing, nasal discharge, runny eyes, etc.

Cats can get upper respiratory infections that are contagious and viral. They actually call the problem "Feline Upper Respiratory Tract Infection". It is very common in outdoor cats or multi-cat households. You cannot get the cold from your cat and vice versa.

Because the condition is generally caused by a virus – antibiotics generally don't help and it just takes time for your cat to clear the infection. However, antibiotics are often prescribed to help prevent or treat secondary bacterial infections.

An article that might be helpful to you is Feline Upper Respiratory Tract Infections (URTI).

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra

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About The Author

debra-primovic Dr. Debra Primovic

Debra A. Primovic, BSN, DVM, Editor-in-Chief, is a graduate of the Ohio State University School of Nursing and the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine. Following her veterinary medical training, Dr. Primovic practiced in general small animal practices as well as veterinary emergency practices. She was staff veterinarian at the Animal Emergency Clinic of St. Louis, Missouri, one of the busiest emergency/critical care practices in the United States as well as MedVet Columbus, winner of the AAHA Hospital of the year in 2014. She also spends time in general practice at the Granville Veterinary Clinic. Dr. Primovic divides her time among veterinary emergency and general practice, editing, writing, and updating articles for, and editing and indexing for veterinary publications. She loves both dogs and cats but has had extraordinary cats in her life, all of which have died over the past couple years. Special cats in her life were Kali, Sammy, Pepper and Beanie.