Does My Cat Have Allergies or a Cold?

Does My Cat Have Allergies or a Cold

We all expertise horrible it is to have allergies or a cold.

The constant sneezing, runny nose, and watery eyes are sure to make your day pretty bleak. Well, our feline friends feel the same way! Unfortunately, colds and allergies have a lot of overlapping symptoms, so it very well may be difficult to distinguish between the two and get your cat the help it needs.

When my kitty is sneezing or coughing, I complete three things to answer the question, “Does my cat have allergies or a cold?”: I take note of when my cat’s symptoms are even from a pessimistic standpoint, keep on the lookout for skin irritation or digestive upset, and, as a last resort, I go to my vet for a professional opinion.

In this article, I cover each of these tricks exhaustively so you can identify the cause of your cat’s symptoms, too! I likewise give a brief overview of each condition and go over whether or not you ought to take your feline to the vet for treatment.

What are the Symptoms of Allergies in Cats?

Does My Cat Have Allergies or a Cold
Does My Cat Have Allergies or a Cold?

Just like us, cats can be allergic to various things in their environment. The most common allergic reactions occur because of a sensitivity to environmental substances (e.g., pollen or dust), flea bites, or certain foods. For example, one of my cats is allergic to chicken, so I have to ensure I avoid feeding her foods that could cause an allergic reaction.

When your feline comes into contact with an allergen, its body tries to get rid of the substance as quickly as could be expected. This is what causes the variety of symptoms associated with allergies.

The most commonly occurring symptoms in cats include:

  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Coughing and sneezing
  • Ear infections
  • Snoring
  • Swollen, sensitive paws
  • Excessive grooming
  • Scratching
  • Red or dry skin
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea

What are the Symptoms of Cat Colds?

Does My Cat Have Allergies or a Cold.
Does My Cat Have Allergies or a Cold?

Cat colds, otherwise known as feline upper respiratory infections, are a common illness among cats and are very similar to the colds we humans experience. Various bacteria and viruses can cause these infections, but they are not considered usually life-threatening. It is just in rare cases where secondary infections develop that the condition might become deadly.

Thankfully, cat colds can’t be transmitted to humans, but they are quickly passed between cats when they come into close contact with one another. One of my kitties caught a cold once, and I soon had a whole house of sick felines to deal with!

The symptoms and severity of cat colds can change greatly, but one of the first things you might notice is that your cat has watery eyes and sneezes constantly.

After 24 hours, other symptoms start to appear also. These may include:

  • Runny nose
  • Snorting
  • Coughing
  • Mild fever
  • Congestion/open-mouth breathing
  • Dehydration
  • Lack of appetite

Does My Cat Have Allergies or a Cold?

Does My Cat Have Allergies or a Cold..
Does My Cat Have Allergies or a Cold?

As you’ve probably noticed at this point, there is a lot of overlap in the symptoms caused by allergies and cat colds. For example, it is common to see a cat coughing but no hairball being brought up in the two conditions. Likewise, the two colds and allergies cause sneezing, wheezing, and watery eyes. All in all, how might you tell which your cat is dealing with?

In some cases, your feline might show symptoms just associated with one of the two conditions. For example, on the off chance that your cat has a fever and is lethargic, it is probably suffering from a cold, as allergies don’t affect body temperature.

However, I have listed below the three easier ways you can use to tell colds and allergies apart:

Looking at When Symptoms Worsen

First off, you need to try and pay attention to when your feline’s symptoms are best case scenario. While symptoms caused by a cat cold are present constantly (essentially until the infection has cleared), those relating to allergies will come and go based on your cat’s exposure to the allergen.

The higher the concentration of the allergen in the environment, the more severe their symptoms. For example, my cat’s allergies play up right after she has eaten chicken, but yours might occur after your kitty has been to the litter box (litter allergy) or during the summer (hay fever).

Then again, in the event that your cat is coughing with its tongue out consistently, you are probably dealing with a cold.

I remember this by using a simple alliteration: COLDS are CONSISTENT, but ALLERGIES AREN’T.

Signs of Skin Irritation or Digestive Upset

Skin irritation and digestive upset are two easy-to-spot symptoms that aren’t present in the two conditions: they can be triggered by some allergies but are never caused by a cat cold. In this way, on the off chance that your cat has a dry nose and isn’t eating, is vomiting, or has red, scabby skin, you are nearly always dealing with an allergic reaction.

However, you ought to likewise be aware that colds can lead to the formation of mouth ulcers, which would cause your feline pain when eating. I have confused this as a sign that my kitty has had an allergy in the past, as it can lead to a loss of appetite, just as allergies can.

Get a Professional Veterinary Opinion

Finally, we have the most reliable approach to determining on the off chance that your cat has allergies or a cold: get a professional opinion from your vet. I think this is the best way to realize for sure what condition you are dealing with, as your vet can run a series of tests that will give your feline an official diagnosis.

To diagnose a cat cold, your vet must identify which bacteria or virus is responsible. Cell samples taken from your kitty’s eyes, nose, or throat usually reveal the cause on the off chance that it is viral, while a conjunctival scraping can be used to identify a bacterial infection.

When testing for an allergy, blood or skin tests will be carried out instead. Blood tests involve a sample of your cat’s blood being taken and thoroughly examined in a lab. For a skin test, a possible allergen will be injected just under the skin. On the off chance that a hive appears, your feline is allergic to that substance.

These tests are very effective and might be used together to work out what is causing your cat’s symptoms. Based on their finding, your vet can then work to improve their unpleasant symptoms.

Should I Take My Cat to the Vet?

Does My Cat Have Allergies or a Cold...
Does My Cat Have Allergies or a Cold?

Whether your feline is suffering from allergies or a cold, visiting the vet is best. This is especially true assuming you notice your cat is breathing heavily and lethargic. Although these are possible symptoms of a cold, they may likewise be caused by a more serious medical issue, like congestive heart failure.

Either way, your vet can help ease your feline’s symptoms and improve its quality of life. On account of allergies, they’ll likely help you prevent your kitty from coming into close contact with the allergen and prescribe a daily medication (like antihistamines or cortisone pills). In the event that your cat is breathing fast and suffers from asthma, they may likewise prescribe medications to open your cat’s aviation route.

While there is no immediate cure for a viral cold, your vet will actually want to treat individual symptoms. For example, they might prescribe medications to help with eye or nose discharge. Bacterial infections, however, can be treated with anti-microbials. Unfortunately, on the off chance that your feline’s cold is severe, it might need to be hospitalized for a short time to undergo more intensive treatments.


When your cat gets sick, it can sometimes be difficult to identify what is wrong.

Allergies and colds are common conditions in cats with overlapping symptoms, like sneezing and coughing. In that capacity, determining what’s wrong with your furry friend can be hard.

The question, “Does my cat have allergies or a cold?” is never easy to answer, but I’ve found three things that I think could help: look at when your feline’s symptoms are, to say the least, look for signs of skin irritation and digestive upset, or seek your vet’s advice. As I would see it, this last option is the best way to be 100% sure of what you’re dealing with.

Regardless of what condition your cat has, I think it’s probably a good idea to get them checked out by your vet. They’ll be able to help ease your feline’s symptoms and improve its quality of life. What’s more, the happier your cat is, the happier you are, right?!

Related: “How To Train Your Pets

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