How Long Do Cat Colds Last?

How Long Do Cat Colds Last

If you notice your cat sniffling and she has a higher-than-usual body temperature, she is quite possibly suffering from a cold. Felines can catch colds just as humans do. In this article, we will get to know more about the common signs and symptoms of cat colds, and how long they usually last. 

How long do cat colds last?

Cat colds usually last one to two weeks, but you need to monitor your cat’s health over that time. If your cat is showing no signs of improvement by the fourth day, take her to the vet, because persistent colds that go untreated could develop into pneumonia. 

Older cats, kittens, and cats with other underlying conditions are more prone to the ill effects of colds. Nursing mother cats and those that are unvaccinated are also more susceptible to severe colds. Consult the vet to avoid any complications, especially if your cat loses her appetite, starts coughing or has difficulty breathing. 

What are cat colds?

Cat colds are also referred to as feline upper respiratory infections and are similar to human colds. This is not a life-threatening condition, but some cats may develop severe colds that lead to a fatal secondary infection. If a senior cat or a kitten shows signs of a cold, monitor them closely to avoid complications. 

How do cats catch colds?

Cat colds are commonly passed from one cat to another through droplets spread by sneezing. The infection could be viral or bacterial, and outdoor cats are more susceptible to catching colds since they are more often in contact with other cats that may be infected. 

What are the common symptoms of cat colds?

Cat colds usually start with sneezing, and other symptoms start to appear over the next 24 hours.  

The common symptoms of cat colds include the following:

  • Uncontrollable sneezing
  • Runny nose 
  • Excessive coughing
  • Fever
  • Dehydration 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Congested nose leading to open-mouth breathing 
  • Red, watery eyes 

How to treat your cat if she has a cat cold

  1. Increase the humidity at home by running a humidifier or vaporizer. 
  2. Gently wipe your cat’s nose with a clean, damp cloth or cotton wool soaked in warm water if she has a stuffy nose.
  3. Apply a saline solution with gauze pads to clean and soothe your cat’s watery eyes. 
  4. Offer your cat special wet cat food to entice her to eat. Warm the food first to enhance its aroma. Cats with colds may lose their appetite because they cannot smell the food, but you should coax your cat to eat since food is vital to keep up her strength while she recovers.
  5. Keep your cat warm and comfortable by placing an extra blanket on her resting spot or cat bed.  

Other common health problems in cats

1. Vomiting 

Cats sometimes vomit, and the causes may range from eating something toxic or inedible, such as poison or string, to diabetes, hairballs, and urinary tract infections. Symptoms may include abdominal heaving and drooling. Vomiting could lead to dehydration; it could also be a symptom of something severe that requires attention, so it is best to consult the vet for an assessment. 

2. Feline lower urinary tract disease, or FLUTD

This illness usually occurs in overweight or unfit cats that eat dry food. Factors that increase a cat’s risk of FLUTD include stress, sudden changes in living conditions, and a multi-cat household. Treatment depends on the specific type of FLUTD. 

Symptoms of FLUTD include the following:

  • Bloody urine 
  • Excessive thirst
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Urinating in unusual places
  • Crying when urinating 
  • Depression
  • Licking the urinary area 
  • Vomiting 
  • Lack of appetite

Contact the vet immediately if your cat has difficulty urinating or if you suspect any urinary tract problem.

3. Fleas 

Flea infestation is a common external health issue among cats. If you notice flea dirt, or tiny black dots, on your cat’s skin, it is likely that she has fleas. She will also scratch constantly and lick herself frequently. Her skin may become red or irritated, and she may suffer from hair loss and skin infection. 

Cats are prone to anemia if they have fleas, so treat the flea problem promptly to avoid complications. Consult your vet about the best treatment for your cat. There are various options to consider, including topical medications, oral medications, foams and powders. 

4. Tapeworm 

Tapeworm infestation is also common in cats. These intestinal parasites are segmented and can grow up to two feet long. Symptoms include weight loss and vomiting. To confirm a tapeworm infestation, check your cat’s feces, anus and bedding. These parasites usually come out of the anus when a cat is asleep or relaxed. 

The presence of small white worms that resemble sesame seeds or rice grains indicates that your cat has tapeworm. Treatment options include oral medication, topical medication and injection. Ingestion of fleas could also cause this infestation, which is another reason to address flea problems promptly. 

5. Diarrhea

Cats could develop diarrhea due to spoiled food, allergies, liver disease, infection, cancer or intestinal parasites. Symptoms are watery, loose or liquid stool that could last from one day to a few weeks or even months. Give your cat plenty of clean, fresh water so she does not get dehydrated, and remove her food for at least 12 hours. Take her to the vet if she still has diarrhea after one day, or if she has bloody stool, is lethargic, straining to defecate or has lost her appetite. 

6. Eye problems 

The causes of eye problems in cats include corneal ulcers, cataracts, conjunctivitis, glaucoma, viruses, trauma, retinal disease and inflammation. Common symptoms include tear-stained fur, gunk in the eye corners, watery eyes, cloudiness, reddened eyelid linings, pawing at the eyes, squinting, and a visible third eyelid. 


Just like humans, cats can catch colds. The common symptoms of cat colds include sneezing, runny nose, excessive coughing, fever, dehydration, loss of appetite, congested nose and red, watery eyes. This condition may last from one to two weeks, but you need to monitor your cat closely during this time and take her to the vet if there are no signs of improvement by the fourth day. 

Image: / FotoLesnik