The Common Signs Of Respiratory Infections In Cats

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Just like humans, cats can get respiratory infections. The only difference is, they can’t take themselves into the doctor once they realize they are getting sick. This is why they rely on us, their trusted human servants, to know the telltale signs of respiratory infections in cats. No one wants to see their kitty under the weather, and it’s important to take your cat into the vet ASAP should you suspect they have a respiratory infection. Not sure what the signs are of respiratory infections in cats? Not to worry, we’re here to fill you in!

respiratory infections in cats

First off, did you know that viruses are the most common cause for upper respiratory infections in cats? Your cat’s delicate nose, throat and sinus region is highly susceptible to this condition. And it’s important to know the signs as respiratory infections can advance quickly. According to, Feline calicivirus and feline herpesvirus account for up to 90 percent of all contagious upper respiratory problems, and are prevalent in shelters, catteries, and multi-cat households. These viruses can be spread via cross-contamination, like shared water and food bowls, as well as grooming, sneezing, and coughing. And, just like viruses in humans, once cats contract one or both of these viruses, they remain carriers for life.

respiratory infections in cats

Feline calicivirus fact: Approximately 10% of cats housed in small groups are infected, while up to 90% of those housed in more crowded conditions.

In addition to viruses, bacteria can also be to blame when it comes to respiratory infections in cats. Respiratory infections in cats are relatively common, especially in high-density populations such as shelters and feral cat colonies. The sooner a cat receives treatment, the sooner they can heal and the less chance of infecting other kitties.

respiratory infections in cats

Here are the common signs of respiratory infections in cats…

Technically speaking, the exact location of the respiratory infection (whether upper or lower) can determine the exact signs/symptoms.

The most commonly noted signs of upper respiratory infections in cats are as follows:

  • Runny nose
  • Congestion
  • Sneezing, especially several sneezes in a row
  • Coughing/hacking
  • Clear to slightly colored discharge (pus) coming from eyes or nose
  • Fever
  • Sudden changes in appetite
  • Drooling
  • Squinting and/or rubbing of the eyes
  • Sudden onset of depression claims that the most common viruses and infections which lead to the development of upper respiratory infections are as follows:

  • Feline herpesvirus type-1 (FHV-1); also known as feline viral rhinotracheitis (FVR)
  • Feline calicivirus (FVC)
  • Bordetella bronchiseptica (B. bronchiseptica)
  • Chlamydophila felis (C. felis)
  • Feline retrovirus, such as FIV or FeLV

respiratory infections in cats

In regards to lower respiratory infections in cats, one might notice that their cat has one or all of the following signs/symptoms:

It’s very important to take your cat in to see their vet at the start of these signs so that they can get the treatment they need. Should you decide to wait, your cat could possibly develop a case of pneumonia and that is much harder to treat. No one wants to see their cat suffer, so keep these signs in mind to stay in the know on what to watch for. If you know another cat owner who could benefit from reading this, please share it with them for the sake of their feline friend.

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