What to Give a Sick Cat With Cold-Like Symptoms


When cats exhibit symptoms that resemble the common cold in humans, it is quite often a sign that they have contracted an upper respiratory infection (URI). According to the Morris Animal Foundation, URI is a common feline viral condition. It is highly contagious among cats. Most cats recover from the virus within one to three weeks, according to the foundation. Whether it is the result of an upper respiratory infection, or some other ailment, most cats, like most humans, suffer from cold-like symptoms from time to time.


Pay attention to your pet. Before you can treat your cat for cold-like symptoms, you have to first determine what these symptoms look like in your feline friend. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, cats often exhibit subtle signs of illness. Their natural instinct is to try to hide their ailments from others. An attentive cat owner, who is familiar with their pet's normal behavior patterns and personality, will notice sooner than an inattentive cat owner when something is not quite right. Some symptoms of an ailment might include a dull coat, gunk in the eyes or nose, loss of appetite or excessive sleeping. Keep in mind each animal is different.

Smelly Foods

Give your cat their favorite foods--the stronger smelling, the better. The way to a cat's stomach is through its nose. If your cat can't smell its food, due to a stuffy nose, it often won't eat. You may also try slightly warming moist food for your sick cat to eat. Heating the food makes it easier to smell. Just be certain to test it first! You don't want your feline friend to get a burnt tongue.


A little rest and relaxation in a comfortable, quiet and stress-free environment is often all a cat needs in order to recuperate from illness. This is especially true with feline upper respiratory infections. According to the Morris Animal Foundation, cats with the virus for upper respiratory infection may experience recurrent outbreaks when stressed.

Medical Attention

According to the University of California–Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program, you may need to provide your sick cat with expert medical attention if your pet shows any of the following signs:

-No improvement or worsening of condition for over a week -Greenish or yellowish discharge from the nose or eyes -Diarrhea and/or vomiting that is present for more than 24 hours -Loss of appetite for over 24 hours -Breathing from an open mouth, panting or other problems breathing

If you believe that something is unusual about your cat's health, don't hesitate to contact your veterinarian. A phone call is often all it takes to determine whether an office visit is necessary.

A Screening for H1N1 Virus/Swine Flu

You may need to have your sick cat tested for swine flu. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, it is possible for cats to contract the H1N1 flu virus. Most cats contract the virus from their sick owners. According to the AVMA, symptoms of the H1N1 flu virus in cats can include signs of respiratory illness, such as: fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, runny nose and/or eyes, sneezing and coughing. Changes in breathing or difficulty breathing are also possible as symptoms of the H1N1 virus in cats. Just because your cat is exhibiting cold-like symptoms doesn't necessarily mean that they have contracted the swine flu. A veterinarian will need to perform a lab test in order to check for the presence of the H1N1 flu virus.

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