Can Cats Get Colds

kitten in grass
Written by: Sam Webster (BVetMed MRCVS) Head Vet at Joii

Most cat owners will have experienced the adorable sound of a cat sneeze at some point. It’s usually just a bit of fluff or dust irritating their sensitive noses, but it also brings up the question – can cats get colds?

Can cats catch colds?


Cats can indeed catch colds just as humans can, though not from the same viruses. Cats can get something called feline viral upper respiratory disease, or more simply, cat flu. Much like human colds and flu, it’s passed between cats through droplets from sneezing or a runny nose or eyes.

It’s more common for kittens to catch colds as they don’t have the built-up immunity yet, but elderly cats with health problems can also be at risk.

Cat cold symptoms


The symptoms of cat flu are pretty similar to colds and flu in humans, and usually involve a mix of the following:

  • Sneezing more than usual
  • Runny nose
  • Discharge around the eyes
  • Coughing or swallowing a lot
  • Loss of appetite
  • Moving less and seeming more tired than usual

How to treat cat flu


Usually, a cat cold is nothing to worry about and the symptoms are mild and will clear up within a week with symptomatic treatment. However some of these viral infections can be nasty and may cause severe lung infections, ulceration to the eyes, tongue or mouth and cause a cat to become very unwell. If your cat has more severe symptoms, or they are not getting better, a vet will need to examine them and investigate the problem.

If there is a more severe infection, your cat may need medication such as antibiotics, anti-viral medications and eye drops to help them.

Why is my cat sneezing?


If your adult cat is sneezing, there’s a reasonable chance it’s not a cold. There are many things that could cause your cat sneeze once in a while, so you don’t need to rush to the vet as soon as they get a little sniffle.

Dust and fluff can easily cause a minor irritation, especially if they enjoy exploring around the back of furniture and under beds. If your cat spends a lot of time outside, there are even more opportunities to get their nose into things that might cause them to sneeze, such as a bit of grass or pollen, or just something they don’t like the smell of.

If your cat always sneezes after you’ve used certain cleaning products around the house, it may be a reaction to the ingredients. Always try to use pet-safe cleaning products when cleaning areas of the house that your cat has access too, and that should avoid upsetting their sensitive noses.

If your cat is sneezing a lot more than usual, or you notice some discharge around their nose or eyes, then it may be time to visit the vet. This could be a sign of an infection or some other issue that needs treatment to remedy.


Don’t forget to check out our Pet Insurance so you know your little bundle of fluff is covered.

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