Winter is the prime time when humans are catching colds and it is no different for cats. Cat flu is a common feline disease involving the upper respiratory tract and the signs of this viral disease are similar to those seen in people with the flu. Symptoms can range from mild – sneezing, runny eyes and coughing to more severe – congestion, loss of appetite and even fevers and ulcers.
Kittens, senior cats, or those who haven’t been vaccinated are most susceptible, but cat flu is breed specific and cannot be passed from a human who has the ‘flu’ or vice versa. Cat flu can be treated successfully if found early so consult your vet if you notice any signs that your cat is unwell.
If your cat does become sick with the flu, there are a couple of ways you can help with their recovery. Cat flu can affect their sense of smell so providing food with a strong aroma such as those with fishy flavours will encourage your feline friend’s appetite. Heating wet food slightly will make it more palatable if your cat has a sore throat and if your cat has runny or weepy eyes, gently wiping the eye area with a warm, damp cloth will help clear away any discharge and prevent build-up. Make sure your cat keeps warm by providing a cosy place for your feline friend to curl up. There are a huge range of comfy cat beds available and adding an extra blanket or a heat pad will guarantee they stay toasty. Try not to be disgruntled if your cat shows little interest in their cat bed at first; look for different locations, find a sunny spot or try placing the bed away from draughts and close by a heater.
Preventative healthcare is most important; making sure your cat is up to date with their vaccinations is essential. Adult cats will need to be vaccinated yearly, talk to your vet about the appropriate vaccine coverage for your feline friend and set up a yearly reminder. Try and reduce any unnecessary stress for your cat, especially if your cat is older, as stressed cats are at more risk of becoming sick. Ultimately, a happy cat is a healthy cat.
If you need assistance getting your cat vaccinated phone Cat Protection Society of NSW on 02 9519 7201 and ask about their discount feline health services or visit www.catprotection.org.au for more information on cat care and everything feline.