An upper respiratory infection in cats is equivalent, in most instances, to a human cold. Your cat may even have many of the same symptoms you have when you have a cold, including runny eyes and nose, sneezing and loss of appetite. Even with treatment, you cat’s cold symptoms will usually last a week or more. You can treat your cat’s upper respiratory infection at home as long as the infection responds to home treatment within seven days, and as long as symptoms do not become worse.
You will likely see mucus coming from your cat's eyes and nose as a result of the upper respiratory infection. It's important to keep your cat's nose and eyes cleaned and clear of mucus. Gently wash her eyes a couple of times a day with a warm, moist washcloth. You can also purchase ophthalmic ointment from your veterinarian to apply to her eyes if they become too inflamed. Use the same procedure to clean her nose a few times a day. If her nose becomes dried and cracked during the cold, you can put a bit of petroleum jelly on the tip of it to ease the irritation.
Most human medications aren’t safe for cats. However, you can give your cat Afrin Children’s Strength nose drops while he is battling an upper respiratory infection. You should place one drop in one nostril on the first day of treatment. The next day, put one drop in the other nostril. Continue this procedure each day for a week.
Cats’ appetites are stimulated by smell. If they can’t smell, they don’t eat. In order to encourage your cat to continue eating while she is suffering from an upper respiratory infection, offer her especially smelly foods like canned tuna fish or salmon. Putting her regular canned food in the microwave for a few minutes may help to release some of its odor and make her more likely to eat.
It’s also important that you get your cat to continue to drink while he is suffering from an upper respiratory infection. Many pets prefer to drink running water, so adding a small electric water fountain might be a good idea if you notice he isn’t drinking as much as he should. You might also offer him chicken broth to drink. Not only will this get more fluids into his body, it will offer some extra nutrition while he is ill.
Bethney Foster is social justice coordinator for Mercy Junction ministry, where she edits the monthly publication "Holy Heretic." She is also an adoption coordinator with a pet rescue agency. Foster spent nearly two decades as a newspaper reporter/editor. She graduated from Campbellsville University, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in English, journalism and political science.