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Cats can become ill with respiratory infections known as feline upper respiratory disease, or ‘cat flu’. Cat flu is very infectious and spreads between cats quickly.

How do cats get cat flu?

Unvaccinated cats are at risk of catching cat flu. Cats are more likely to catch cat flu if their immune system is weak, stressed or has a poor diet. Young and older animals are also at a greater risk.

What are the symptoms of cat flu?

Get in touch with your vet immediately if you notice your cat is experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • Nasal discharge
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Fever
  • Red, watery eyes
  • Drooling
  • Signs of muscular/joint pain
  • A lack of appetite

If you suspect your cat is suffering from cat flu, visit your local vet who will be able to administer some tests and provide a full diagnosis. This may involve taking a swab from your cat’s mouth or eyes to identify the cause.

How long does cat flu last?

There are many different types of ‘cat flu’. Cats can recover in days, to weeks, where as in other cases cats may experience signs for a very long time, which can be lifelong, particularly if not treated early on.

How do you help a cat with the flu?

In many cases, it is best to seek the help of a vet, however, you should visit your vet immediately if your cat is quiet, has reduced appetite, or is less active than normal.

To help your cat recover:

  • Remove any discharge from their eyes using clean, warm water
  • Provide your cat with clean and comfortable bedding, which should be washed regularly
  • Keep your cat in a well-ventilated space
  • Always provide your pet with fresh drinking water to keep them hydrated and regularly clean their food bowls
  • If you live in a multiple cat household, where possible, prevent any risk of the disease spreading by isolating the infected cat in a room where you can use pet-friendly disinfectant
  • Provide separate bowls and a litter tray for the remaining pets
  • Visit your vet if your cat still has symptoms after 7 days

How can you prevent cat flu?

Keep your cat’s vaccinations up-to-date as this will help ensure they have the best chance of fighting off the virus. If your cat has already caught cat flu, unfortunately, a new course of preventative treatments won’t be effective.    

If you suspect your cat is unwell with a cold, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with your local Animal Trust clinic.

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