by Sam Mazzotta
Dear Paw’s Corner: This winter, a lot of my family has had colds and flu. Can my cat catch a cold from us?
—Darlene, via e-mail
Dear Darlene: Cats don’t catch colds directly from humans, but they can suffer from upper respiratory infections that are just as uncomfortable.
A number of viral and bacterial infections can make your cat sick. Some of these, such as FVR (feline rhinotracheitis) and FVC (feline calicivirus) can be prevented by making sure your cat gets an annual checkup and vaccinations. An underlying health condition also can make your cat more susceptible to upper respiratory infections. Again, regular checkups and shots can keep it healthy.
What symptoms does a cat with a URI have? It may be sniffling and sneezing, along with a clear or cloudy discharge from the eyes or nose. Your cat also may have little to no appetite and might be lethargic.
Contact the veterinarian right away if your cat has any of these symptoms. The vet will want to examine your cat to confirm what kind of URI it has. Use a cat carrier so other cats in the waiting room won’t be exposed, and to keep your cat safe.
Follow the vet’s instructions on caring for your sick cat. You may be given a prescription, and you will be asked to keep the cat comfortable and warm, and to try to get it to drink water and eat some food. Dry food may be a turnoff, but it may eat a little wet food. If your cat won’t eat or drink, contact the vet again—an IV may be needed to keep it hydrated.
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