Can You Catch a Cold from Your Cat?

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Can You Catch a Cold from Your CatCan you catch a cold from your cat? Is that even possible? Have you ever heard the phrase, “You can catch a cold from a cat”? If so, you may be wondering if it is true or just an old wives’ tale. As a cat owner, it is important to understand the facts about catching a cold from your pet in order to protect yourself and your feline friend’s immune system. Read on to learn more about cat colds and how cats can transmit colds and other illnesses. 

What Is a Cold? 

Human colds are infectious diseases caused by viruses that can easily spread between humans. Cold symptoms include congestion, runny nose, coughing, sneezing, sore throat, headache, and fatigue. Because some of these symptoms overlap with those of allergies or the flu, it can be difficult to distinguish between them without being tested for the virus itself. 

Can Cats Transmit Colds? 

The short answer is no; cats cannot transmit colds to humans through direct contact. However, cats can still carry germs and bacteria that cause respiratory infections like the common cold in humans. This means that if you come in contact with an infected cat’s saliva or mucus (from sneezing or coughing), you may become infected with one of the viruses that cause colds in humans. Outdoor cats are especially prone to all kinds of viral infections and fungal infections. Senior cats and kittens are most prone to catch infections from you and other cats. It’s also important to know that times of stress can weaken your fur baby’s immune system and leave them prone to serious disease.

There Are Some Things That Can Be Transmitted

While a common cold is highly unlikely to be transmitted from feline to human, that doesn’t mean we can rule out other things that can be transmitted. That is why is it essential for cat owners to ensure any concerning health problems such as respiratory issues, infections, or possible parasites are looked at and treated with the help of your veterinarian. This will ensure your cat is well taken care of and is getting the treatment that will ultimately help your cat feel good as new. 

Respiratory Issues

The primary way that humans contract illnesses from cats is through respiratory diseases like the feline upper respiratory complex (FURC), a range of feline upper respiratory infections that can even occur with secondary bacterial infections. This condition, which is also known as cat flu, consists of several different viruses and bacteria that can cause cold-like symptoms like coughing, sneezing, fever, eye discharge, and other symptoms in cats. In humans who become infected by these viruses or bacteria, it can result in similar symptoms such as sore throat, runny nose, and even conjunctivitis. It’s also important to note that feline herpesvirus appears with many of these symptoms as well.


It’s important to remember that not every cat will have this virus or bacterial infection — only those with weakened immune systems are likely to be affected. If your cat does have FURC or another respiratory illness, then you may become infected if you come into contact with their saliva or mucus (e.g., when you clean the litter box). It’s also possible for humans to transmit the virus or bacteria to their cats if they are already carrying it themselves; however, this isn’t common.

Overall, it’s a good idea to pay attention to zoonotic diseases that your sick cat might be displaying symptoms of. This can cause difficulty breathing, runny eyes and runny nose, and other symptoms that you would expect from a respiratory disease. Examples include feline calicivirus, kennel cough, and bordetella bronchiseptica.


Additionally, cats can also bring parasites into your home, which could cause health problems for humans. These parasites include fleas and ticks, which can carry serious diseases such as Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever which are both transmissible to humans if left untreated. These parasites are usually found outdoors and can easily be brought indoors by an unsuspecting pet without the pet owner realizing what’s going on until it’s too late. To prevent this from happening, always make sure your pet is kept up-to-date on flea and tick prevention treatments or have them routinely checked by a veterinarian if they spend time outside regularly. 

Preventing Transmission from Your Cat 

It is important to take steps to prevent the transmission of viruses from your cat to yourself and other members of your household. This includes washing your hands after handling any furry friend, even indoor cats, and domestic cats. and cleaning up any messes made by your pet immediately. It also helps to keep their litter box and water bowls clean and make sure they are up-to-date on their vaccinations against infections such as feline herpes virus (FHV). In addition, if your cat exhibits any signs of illness, such as sneezing or coughing, it is best to visit your veterinarian right away for diagnosis and treatment before any further transmission occurs. 

So…Can You Catch a Cold from Your Cat?

In conclusion, while cats cannot directly transmit colds to humans, they can still carry germs that lead to respiratory infections, including the common cold in people who come into contact with them. Fortunately, there are steps we can take as pet owners to protect ourselves and our furry friends from infection, including washing our hands after handling them and keeping their living space clean. If you have any concerns about catching a cold from your cat or suspect they may be ill themselves, do not hesitate to reach out for help from a qualified vet!