Because there is no cure for an upper respiratory infection caused by a virus, isolation, steam therapy, thorough cleaning, vaccines and antiviral medications are recommendations for easing the symptoms and reducing the spread of a cat's cold, reports the ASPCA. Upper respiratory infections caused by bacteria require antibiotics as well as symptomatic treatment to eradicate illness.
There are several causes for feline colds, explains the ASPCA. Viruses such as the calici virus or the herpes virus both infect kittens and lead to recurring respiratory infections. Bacterial infections, including chlamydia, bordetella, and mycoplasma, cause similar signs.
Similar to a human cold, feline upper respiratory infections cause sneezing, congestion, runny nose and coughing, notes WebMD. More severe cases cause fever, lack of appetite, and ulceration of the mouth and nose. Isolation is important for an infected cat, warns the ASPCA. Infections pass between cats, and one sick animal leads to an outbreak in the community. Viral infections do not respond to the treatment with antibiotics, but antiviral medications are available at the vet for some infections.
A humidifier or steam therapy is useful in reducing congestion, suggests the ASPCA. To improve the health of an infected feline, keep the eyes and nose clean of discharge, provide adequate warmth, and force-feed if necessary. In cases in which dehydration occurs, visit a vet for the replacement of lost fluids.
Prevention is an important part of managing upper respiratory infection outbreaks. Thorough cleaning reduces the risk of contamination in homes with multiple cats, according to the ASPCA. Disinfect community bowls and toys between use. Above all, keep cats up-to-date on important vaccinations.