September 28, 2021

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Can I Give My Cat the Flu? Cat Owner Questions Answered

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Cold and flu season can affect all family members, including your pets. Naturally, you want to keep your cat healthy during flu season. So, if you’re a new cat owner, you may be asking yourself, “can I give my cat the flu?” Fortunately, we sat down with Trupanion veterinarian Dr. Sarah Nold to learn more about cats and the flu and what you may expect from your best friend.

Can I give my cat the flu?

Naturally, with any disease or illness that can affect your pets, you may have concerns. You want your cat or kitten to have a healthy life, and an illness like the flu can prompt more questions. Nold weighs in what to consider during flu season.

“You can give the seasonal human flu to your cat, but the risk is low. Cats do not appear to get infected easily. For this reason, there’s no flu vaccine for cats. If you have the flu, consider avoiding close contact with your cat for as long as you are symptomatic. Also, the usual precautions of covering your cough, immediately throwing away used tissues, and frequent hand washing is helpful. “

Are there other cat health conditions similar to the flu?

Although the flu may not be as common for cats and kittens, there are similar cat health conditions that can affect your furry friend throughout the year. Nold breaks down what to look for when it comes to your cat’s health.

“Infectious feline upper respiratory tract infection can cause similar signs in cats as the human flu does in people.  Unlike the human flu, it’s not seasonal. A variety of viruses and bacteria have been connected to the disease, as well as infection with more than one is common. Also, Infections are more common in places like catteries and animal shelters, where there’s a higher population density of cats. Ideally, cats with upper respiratory symptoms should be isolated from other cats.”

Signs of an upper respiratory infection in cats and kittens

Every cat and kitten is different and may react differently when they’re sick. Naturally, some cats may not always let you know they’re feeling unwell. Nold points out common signs your cat and kitten may experience if they have an upper respiratory tract disease.

Consider the following:

Your cat and kitten may not always experience all of these signs. If your pet appears to feel unwell, please seek the medical care of your veterinarian. They can run some diagnostic tests and determine the next best steps for your best friend.

Treatment options for your cat and kitten

Naturally, depending on the severity of your cat’s infection, they may need different forms of treatment. At the end of the day, all you want is for your furry family member to feel better. Consider giving your cat the chance to rest and relax while they recoup from feeling unwell. Nold mentions the supportive treatment that may be prescribed by your veterinarian to help your pet feel better.

  • A humidifier or steamy bathroom may help your cat with breathing.
  • Consider offering warm foods with a strong smell, which may help encourage eating.
  • Antibiotics and appetite stimulants may be helpful during your cat’s treatment.
  • If your cat is in respiratory distress or is refusing to eat, hospitalization may be necessary.
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No matter the season, your cat can get an infection at any time. Naturally, the colder season may prompt more sniffles from your pet. But by talking with your veterinarian, staying on your pet’s treatment plan, and giving lots of snuggles to your furry family member, your cat may be back to playing in no time at all!

For more on cat health, read Five Common Cat Health Problems for Adopted Cats

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