Does my cat have a cold or something worse?

by Amanda C
(North Bay, Ont, CANADA)

My 6 year old black and white cat ISA has been sneezing profusely for the past week (yellow mucus comes out) and hissing/growling at me. Then she walks away from me when I try to comfort her.

Usually she is moody towards others and loving towards me (licks my face a lot and cuddles me) so her change in attitude and the constant sneezing concerns me.

Is this just a cold that will pass in time or is it something more serious that may require medical attention?

Editor's note: I'm sorry to hear your kitty is not feeling good, Amanda. If she were my cat, I'd call the veterinarian if she had these symptoms for more than a day or so.

Cats can become grumpy when they're sick and sometimes like to be left alone to heal, so the hissing isn't all that unusual.

I'm always concerned, however, when behavior changes accompany other symptoms and/or they last for more than a day or two. If she's sick enough, she may not be drinking enough or she may go off food/water completely and dehydration can set in.

It's hard to say what it is, but a guess would be that she does have a cold. She may have what's usually labeled an upper respiratory infection. URIs in cats are quite common, and sneezing is a symptom.

I failed to catch a URI (also called "cat flu") in Priscilla once. She ended up going off water for long enough to need subcutaneous fluids. Not at all fun for the poor cat!

Occasional sneezing in cats is expected, but excessive sneezing with mucus for several days or more is not good. URIs can lead to secondary bacterial infections, and may develop into pneumonia.

If it is a URI, they can last for seven days or more, but a week with severe symptoms means to me that she should be looked at by a vet.

It's also possible that it's not a URI, or perhaps she has a URI and something else as well, but ether way, she may need treatment.

Please let us know how she gets along.

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