The Rhinovirus in Cats

Watch for symptoms that your cat is not feeling well.
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Coughing, sneezing and that overall feeling of being "stuffed up" can put a damper on your mood during winter months. Your feline friend might suffer from the same symptoms, but he can't catch the same rhinovirus strain that you have. Take Felix to the vet as soon as the sniffles begin.

The Common "Cat" Cold

Cats have their very own unique strains of the common cold, just like humans have different strains of the rhinovirus. Kitty colds are easily transmitted to other cats, but not to humans, dogs or other animals. Usually all felines in a single household tend to get sick together, but if you have one sick kitty, keep him separated from the rest of his furry friends until he gets better. He'll need his own food and water dish, as well as a separate litter box. Lock him in your master bedroom or other large, confined area so he doesn't sneeze on your healthy cats, passing the illness onto them.


All kitties are different; your fuzzy buddy may have just one symptom or several symptoms of a cat cold. In the early stages, you may notice that he is sneezing and has a runny nose. As the virus progresses, he'll cough, wheeze and have a difficult time breathing. Depending on the severity of his viral infection, he may also suffer from mouth sores and conjunctivitis, or pink eye.


If the discharge coming from your cat's eyes, nose or mouth is clear, he might be able to fight the bug all on his own, according to the Cat Care Clinic of Orange, California. Simply wipe away the excess discharge with a clean cotton ball and keep an eye on his symptoms. Any signs of lethargy, difficulty breathing or lack of appetite are signals that your furry companion needs to make a trip to the veterinarian. Your vet can prescribe antibiotics, nasal spray or other medications to help Felix recover from his cold. Don't give your kitty over-the-counter cold medications made for humans. These products often have acetaminophen or caffeine, which are harmful to felines.


Keep Felix indoors while he is recovering. Coming into contact with other sick cats can worsen his symptoms or cause him to catch something else, since his immune system is already weak. With your cuddly pal punked out and his nose all stuffed up, he'll probably be less inclined to eat his food. Placing him in a steamy bathroom for a few minutes or keeping a vaporizer in his sleeping area helps open up his nasal passages. As his sense of smell comes back, his appetite should return as well. Mixing wet food in with his dry food makes his entree more aromatic, helping increase his urge to eat.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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