Just like humans, cats suffer with their own versions of the flu and common cold. And although animals housed in shelters, kennels, and other crowded environments are more likely to come down with a viral infection, you should still be aware of the symptoms associated with these conditions so you can take action quickly. A simple respiratory infection can develop into a much more serious condition, such as pneumonia, and may become fatal.
Cat Cold and Flu Symptoms
When it comes to cats, the typical signs of infection include fever, coughing, sneezing, runny nose, and red, watery eyes. Cats are usually infected with either the herpes virus or calicivirus when these symptoms occur, which also cause a cat to lose her appetite and become depressed and fatigued. Ulcers found inside the mouth are indicative of calicivirus.
Conventional Treatments for Colds and Flus in Cats
If a mild infection is present, your vet may prescribe cough suppressants while encouraging plenty of rest until the virus runs its course. If your vet suspects there’s a secondary bacterial infection, antibiotics will be prescribed as well. On the other hand, if a severe infection is present, hospitalization may be required, as the cat will need strong antibiotics and fluids, along with other supportive therapies to improve the chances of recovery.
Natural Remedies for Cold and Flus in Cats
Supporting your pet’s immune system with natural therapies is a great way to keep the body strong until the animal is able to get rid of the virus.
Herbal remedies include echinacea, a herb known for stimulating the immune system. It works better when combined with the herb goldenseal. Holistic vets also like to prescribe osha root, as well as homeopathic remedies like Aconitum, Arsenicum album, and Gelsemium to help the body fight off infections. Eucalyptus can also be used to reduce inflammation of the respiratory tract, which is common in canine and feline colds and flu.
How to Prevent Colds and Flus in Cats
Preventing exposure to other sick animals and keeping a cat’s environment clean is extremely important. While there are some vaccinations available for canine and feline viruses, not all of them are effective and some can lead to serious side effects.
Keeping your cat’s immune system strong with the right diet is key in reducing the risk of him contracting an infectious illness. Providing your cat with a species-appropriate diet containing no grains and only the highest quality animal proteins is the first step, and supplementing the diet with the right nutrients will help build up the immune system and help it keep infections at bay. A good place to start would be a cat multi-vitamin/mineral, but you should provide extra doses of vitamins C and E, which are potent antioxidants.