Cat Action Trust 1977 Jersey Branch
A lifeline for feral cats

Colds and Flu

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Cats don't actually get colds they get 'upper respiratory infection' (URI), the most common cause of infection are Feline herpesvirus (FHV) or Feline Calicivirus (FCV). Below are common symptoms of URI, if your cat displays these for a prolonged amount of time you should contact your vet.

Nasal infection

If your cat a nasal infection caused by bacteria it'll have a thick mucus coming from the nose. The cat may also be breathing heavily through the nose, only breathing through their mouth or sneezing. It is possible for a irritated membrane to cause slightly bloody mucus. This infection if left untreated can spread from the nasal cavity to the sinus

Runny nose

If your cat has a runny nose for several hours take your pet to the vet.

The colour of the discharge can help identify the cause, it should be removed gently with a soft cloth otherwise it may crust.

  • Watery - probably from a allergy or irritant
  • Mucus - associated with respiratory disease
  • Thick Yellow - associated with bacterial infection¬†

Dry crusted nose

If there is dry mucus on the nose it is best to remove it with a cotton ball or a clean soft cloth to help with the cats breathing. It is also advisable to use a small amount of vaseline on the cats dry nose.


Sneezing doesn't necessary mean the cat is unwell, if the cat sneezes for a few hours and stops with no other symptoms it is more likely to be an irritant affecting the cat. If the cat is sneezing and sniffling for an whole day they may have a respiratory infection. 

Reverse sneezing (Laryngospasm)

A reverse sneeze is when a cat appears to be heavily inhaling air (looking like a reverse sneeze). This a temporary condition not usally associated with an illness, this happens when mucus builds up in the throat and the cat is trying to clear it. Once the mucus has been removed the reverse sneezing will stop.

Loss of appetite

Cats choose what to eat by how it smells, if your cat has a blocked nose it may have trouble identifying good food. To try to coax your cat to eat try stronger smelling food such as mackerel - which is also very good for the cats diet.