Cat cold: definition, causes, symptoms & tips for prevention

Your cat sneezes frequently and also has a slight nasal discharge? If this is the case, then action should be taken early, because it is very likely to be a cat cold. The term seems harmless in itself, but this is a real danger. It can lead to a fatal course of the disease in your cat. We at Dr Sam explain the causes, the symptoms and give you tips for prevention.

Article from
Dr. Christian Dimitriadis
Veterinary surgeon with Dr. SAM
Table of contents

What is cat cold?

The term cat cold (rhinitis) refers to an acute or chronic inflammation of the nasal mucosa. Sneezing, on the other hand, is an explosive expulsion of air from the nose. This is triggered by a sneezing reflex when certain factors irritate the nose. It is important to know whether nasal discharge is emitted afterwards or not.

The backward sneeze, however, is something completely different! Here, the cat sucks air through its nose. It is therefore the opposite!

This natural herbal mixture was developed by our vets especially for cats to strengthen their defences, to support them in stressful situations, in the case of colds and bladder infections and in the case of age-related reduced activity of the immune system. The medicinal plants used contain special active ingredients which promote the function of the body's own immune defences and support long-term well-being. Thus, the immune system can also be supported and strengthened preventively.

5 important causes of nasal discharge

Cat cold is unfortunately highly contagious and is usually transmitted from cat to cat. The transmission can take place when a cat coughs or sneezes. It is also possible that through a common feeding place it can also come to a transmission of saliva and secretions.

Here we explain now the most important causes, which are responsible for the nasal discharge of the cat:

  1. Feline rhinotracheitis: This is the most common cause of nasal discharge in cats. It is a collective name for contagious diseases of the respiratory tract. It is a symptom complex because viruses (herpes and caliciviruses) and bacteria (chlamydia, bordetella and mycoplasma) are often involved.
  2. Dental disease is also one of the most common causes of nasal discharge. Poor dental health also spreads outside the mouth. Tooth root abscesses/granulomas or oronasal fistula (tube-like connection between mouth and nose) can also be the cause.
  3. With outdoor cats, foreign objects can often hide in the nose. If your cat walks through a cornfield or meadow, awns can get stuck in the nose. Due to the fine barbs it is impossible for the cat to sneeze them out.
  4. Tumours or fungal diseases in the nose often cause nasal discharge in cats. The decisive factor is whether this nasal discharge comes from only one or from both nostrils. In the case of a tumour or a fungal disease, the nasal discharge is usually unilateral.
  5. Also Allergies or autoimmune diseases (lymphoplasmacytic rhinitis) may be responsible. Have you maybe changed the cat litter lately? Is there perhaps a new source of dust in your home, like a construction site? These are all factors that can cause nasal discharge.

Symptoms and diagnosis when cat has sniffles

But how do you know if your cat really has cat cold or if it's just a mild cold?

If your cat is really suffering from the common cold, then it is an infectious disease. Depending on the pathogen, different symptoms appear such as:

  • Cat sneezes
  • Nasal discharge clear at the beginning, later yellowish-green
  • Apathy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Swollen or watery eyes
  • Swallowing difficulties
  • Cough

In most cases, the pathogens are transmitted from cat to cat or through infected objects. Mostly the first symptoms appear after 24 hours.

Ask our specialized vets to find out what your cat has! Dr. SAM's veterinarians are specialized in telemedicine and can assess the symptoms and provide immediate help through telephone and video consultations on your mobile phone!


If you have the feeling that your cat has a cat cold, contact the vet immediately! It can be life-threatening and is not a simple infection, like with us humans!

The following table shows you which infectious agents are possible and which symptoms are more pronounced:

Dental diseases are not only manifested by sneezing or nasal discharge. Often your cat has problems chewing (like flinging his head), salivates or doesn't want to eat. Unfortunately, a simple examination of the mouth can not always give information whether there is something. It is not uncommon to have to do an x-ray or CT scan to find out about certain conditions. Especially because the roots of the teeth are connected to the sinuses, complicated disease processes can take place inside the skull.

Also tumors or foreign bodies in the nose, can only be diagnosed by endoscopy. However, your cat would have to be put under anaesthesia.

Therapy options

The cat cold should definitely be treated especially if you have a kitten or an older cat. Untreated rhinitis can cause secondary damage such as chronic nasal discharge, eye problems(ulcers) or pneumonia. 

The following therapy options are available:

  • Antiviral drugs: usually in the form of eye drops or eye ointments.
  • Antibiotic treatment: Whether as a primary cause of cat sniffles or due to secondary infections, antibiotics are helpful to fight the bacteria
  • Antibody Serum (Feliserin Plus): These antibodies help your cat's immune system to fight the viruses more efficiently and alleviate symptoms.
  • Immune booster for cats. A natural herbal mixture specially developed for your cat. See the paragraph "natural therapy against cat cold".

Give your kitten lots of love and affection. A familiar environment with little stress will speed up the healing process! For puppies, a red light lamp will significantly speed up the healing process. Certain herbs, such as sage, will liquefy the mucus so that your kitten can breathe more easily.

Dental disease may ever require surgical intervention (surgery). Make sure that your vet is familiar with dental diseases.

Allergies are usually only recognised after all other symptoms have been ruled out. It is often related to a change in the environment or home (new cat litter, more dust than usual, new detergent). Food intolerances do not cause sneezing or nasal discharge.

Tumours or foreign bodies usually have to be examined under anaesthesia and can be removed directly if necessary.

Shutterstock.com / Real Moment

Natural therapy against cat cold

Strengthening the immune system plays a very important role in keeping your cat healthy. There are specially formulated herbal blends that have been proven to strengthen your cat's immune system. This natural herbal mixture was developed by our veterinarians specifically for cats to strengthen the immune system. Our Immunbooster herbal blend for cats should be used for the following indications:

  • For support in stressful situations
  • For colds and bladder infections
  • For age-related reduced activity of the immune system
  • Preventive to strengthen the immune system

The medicinal plants used contain special active ingredients that promote the function of the body's immune defenses and support the well-being in the long term. Thus, the immune system can also be supported and strengthened preventively. The medicinal plants can therefore not only fight cat colds but also prevent them at the same time.

You can easily order our immune booster for cats in our shop.


Prevention of cat cold

To keep your pet healthy, make sure her immune system is strong. Stress can severely weaken the immune system in cats! Cats that are already infected with cat flu pathogens can have an acute flare-up when stressed. These 5 signs will tell you that your cat is stressed:

  1. Loss of appetite
  2. Excessive cleaning
  3. Aggressions
  4. Lack of cleanliness: Mishaps outside the litter box are very often a sign of stress!
  5. Hide

The vaccination is the best preventive measure to protect your pet from cat flu. Although a vaccination does not always protect against infection, the symptoms are much milder in vaccinated animals.

Remember to clean the nose and the eyes of your cat from from incrustations. You can use a damp handkerchief for this.

Use our Immune booster for catsto strengthen the immune system preventively.

  • This natural herbal mixture was developed by our vets especially for cats to strengthen their defences, to support them in stressful situations, in the case of colds and bladder infections and in the case of age-related reduced activity of the immune system. The medicinal plants used contain special active ingredients which promote the function of the body's own immune defences and support long-term well-being. Thus, the immune system can also be supported and strengthened preventively.

Dental diseases can be prevented by an annual examination of the oral cavity. You can combine this well with the vaccination.

Please note that preventive measures against sneezing and nasal discharge should only be taken after your individual case has been clarified by a veterinarian.

If you are unsure and would like to learn more about Dr. SAM - just click on the link and you will receive further insights into our work.

Best regards,
Dr. Christian Dimitriadis
- Veterinary surgeon with Dr. SAM

Table of contents
Article from
Dr. Christian Dimitriadis
Veterinary surgeon with Dr. SAM
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