Here’s What to Do When Your Cat Has the Flu (Coryza)

Here’s What to Do When Your Cat Has the Flu (Coryza)

When your pet seems to be feeling under the weather, what do you do?

Could your cat has a cold?


Unfortunately, cat can get a cold, but it’s hard to know, really. So if you’re unsure, you’re not alone. 

It took one farmer weeks of time and even more heartache to realize that he was dealing with a deadly Coryza outbreak within his farm cat community.

Gilles has many cats on his farm. And while they may not exactly be housecats, they are still his pets. So needless to say, he was very concerned when he began to lose them.

One by one, they would separate from the clowder and find a quiet place to spend their remaining moments.

In the days leading up to their death, Gilles noticed that his cats were exhibiting signs of illness. But he didn’t know how severe it was until he began losing them. As far as he knew, there was just a cold going around that would probably pass in a few days. He was right about the cold, but it wouldn’t pass…

This is one of the hardest parts about being a pet owner. Our pets cannot tell us when they are sick. And when they are sick, they cannot tell us if those sneezes signal a dire emergency.

It’s up to us as pet owners to stay informed, so we may notice the subtle signs of illnesses that could be deadly.


What is Acute Coryza?

Acute coryza describes the sudden onset of inflammation in the mucus membrane of the nose, especially when it’s caused by cold or flu.


What is Chronic Coryza?

Chronic coryza occurs when the symptoms of inflammation in the nose do not subside. Chronic coryza may be hereditary or caused by allergies, infection or nutritional deficiency.


What Are Some Common Causes of Acute Coryza?

If your cat suddenly starts having sneezing fits and a perpetually runny nose, he or she is experiencing acute coryza. Just like with humans, this usually does not come out of the clear blue sky. There’s a reason your cat is feeling under the weather, and that reason is likely a virus. There are three common viruses that cause coryza in cats.

Gilles’s cats had one of these viruses, but it took a while before he learned which one it was.



Coryza and Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (FVR)

Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (FVR) is the most common type of respiratory infection in cats. It is a form of the herpesvirus that is only contagious among cats. It is spread through direct contact with an infected cat.

Like most forms of herpes, FVR is not a sexually transmitted disease. It spreads when a cat is in direct contact with an infected cat’s bodily fluids. This can happen in a cat fight, grooming session or while sharing the same toys.

FVR can remain dormant until stress signals an outbreak. The virus is highly contagious when a cat is experiencing an outbreak.


Coryza and Calicivirus

Feline calicivirus is another common respiratory infection that cats can get. This one can be quite serious as it also attacks the mouth, tongue, intestines and musculoskeletal system.

There is a vaccine to help prevent calicivirus, but it still spreads throughout the cat community It is most common wherever there are large numbers of cats. Any cat can get calicivirus, especially unvaccinated ones, but it’s most common in kittens under six weeks old.


H1N1 and Coryza

Do you remember the H1N1 virus that was spreading in the human population a few years back? Many people called it “swine flu” and it made a lot of people feel pretty awful.

Well, cats can get H1N1 too.

Coryza is a symptom of H1N1, which is a variant of the influenza virus, and it’s also contagious to humans, dogs and ferrets. So if your cat gets sick, be sure to get treatment right away before it spreads throughout the household.

Although this flu isn’t the epidemic it was in 2009, it does continue to spread worldwide.


Coryza (cat cold) Symptoms

Symptoms of coryza can vary, but they often include a runny nose, congestion and sneezing. It may be obvious whether the symptoms are sudden (seem to appear out of nowhere) or chronic (develop over item and remain). Acute symptoms may be more of a concern because they may be a sign of a viral infection, such as H1N1, FVR or Calicivirus.


Symptoms of FVR

The FVR virus is a form of herpes that only affects cats. It’s the most common type of upper respiratory infection that cats get. Once a cat is infected with FVR, there is usually a 2-5 day incubation period before you’ll see any symptoms. Symptoms of FVR mimic a typical cold, so you can expect a lot of sneezing and watery eyes in addition to other unique symptoms:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Runny eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Sneezing (often sudden and uncontrollable)
  • Eyelid spasms that may cause the eye to close (blepharospasm)
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Inflammation of the cornea (keratitis)


Symptoms of Calicivirus

Because calicivirus is a respiratory illness, coryza is often the first thing pet owners notice. It’s the runny nose and sneezing that are often the first signs that your cat is sick. Here are some other symptoms to look out for:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Runny eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Fever
  • Development of ulcers on tongue, hard palate, tip of nose, lips or around claws
  • Pneumonia
  • Difficult breathing after development of pneumonia
  • Arthritis (inflammation of joints)
  • Lameness
  • Painful walk
  • Bleeding from various sites


Symptoms of H1N1

The H1N1 virus can be tricky to diagnose because it’s possible for an infected cat to show no sign of disease at all. In others, symptoms range from mild to severe. Here are some common symptoms to look for:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Runny eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Fever
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Lethargy
  • Labored breathing


How Long Does Cat Cold Last?

Whether the cat cold is chronic or acute, the symptoms of flu (coryza) will likely last until the cat gets treatment or is removed from its cause (in the case of an allergy). If the cat has FVR, coryza will last either until the outbreak ends or until the cat gets treatment.

It’s important to know why your cat is experiencing flu-like symptoms because –as Gilles learned—some causes can be deadly. Once you know why your cat has a runny nose, you can begin treatment.

How to Treat Cat with a Cold (Coryza)

Treatment for coryza in cats (cats with cold) may depend on its cause. If you suspect that your cat may have a H1N1 or calicivirus, you may want to seek medical intervention because these viruses have the potential to be deadly. Natural remedies can be effective in almost any case of coryza, but whether you choose homeopathy or traditional medicine will largely depend on your comfort level.


What to Do About Cat Flu in a Kitten

Just like human babies, kittens are more susceptible to illness than older cats with better developed immune systems. And when they get sick, it can be serious.

It’s important to keep an eye on the litter and watch for symptoms of coryza. If you notice that your kittens have runny eyes and noses, don’t delay. Start treatment as soon as possible to help keep the cats from getting sicker.

If the kittens have already been weaned, separate the ones that are showing signs of illness. This may help keep it from spreading to the entire litter.

If they have not yet been weaned, there may not be much you can do about the spread of coryza. At this point, they need to stay in close contact with each other and their mother. The only exception would be when one kitten is showing signs of serious illness. In this case, you may want to talk to your vet about a treatment plan that involves bottle feeding.


Homeopathic products for cats with colds (Coryza)

When Gilles realized there was a problem with his farm cats, he gave us a call. He was desperate because not only had he already lost cats to this illness, but now his favorite cat was showing signs of coryza.

He couldn’t lose another. Especially not this one…

That’s when he gave us a call.

Our homeopath Denyse listened to Gilles’s story and learned all about what was happening with his cats. From there, she recommended a few of our products to help bring all his cats back to a state of good health.

The plan was to address the coryza, and also to address any other imbalances his cats may be experiencing. It was all about strengthening their immune systems while treating the most problematic symptoms.

With stronger immune systems, Gilles’s cats would be better equipped to fight the virus. So Denyse recommended our Cat Flu Stage 2 along with other tonics and probiotics.


The plan for your cat may not be the same as it was for Gilles’s cats. We like to take a more personalized approach to wellness that takes individual factors into consideration. This is why we have two products for coryza along with a myriad of tonics and probiotics that may be taken together to address your pet’s overall health.


Coryza Homeopathic Products

Here at Zumalka, we offer products for coryza in two stages. You can use stage one when you’re noticing clear or transparent discharge from the cat’s eyes or nose. Stage two is used for when the discharge is yellow or greenish. Yellow or greenish discharge is a sign of infection, and this takes a different approach.


Medical Treatments for FVR and Coryza

There is no cure for FVR, so medical interventions focus on treating the symptoms of the illness. Your vet will evaluate your cats to determine which symptoms are most problematic and come up with a treatment plan that may involve various medications.

Conjunctivitis and keratitis are often treated with topical eye medications. Corneal ulcers are attacked with an aggressive treatment to prevent permanent eye damage. And if the eye symptoms recur often, the vet may prescribe antiviral eye drops.

In severe cases or when the infected feline is a kitten, the veterinarian may prescribe broad spectrum antibacterial drugs to help prevent secondary bacterial infections.


Medical Treatments for Calicivirus and Coryza

Calicivirus can cause pneumonia, which can lead to death, so it’s important to seek treatment if your cat seems very ill. If the cat has pneumonia, it may require hospitalization. Otherwise, treatments often address symptoms instead of the disease.

Unfortunately, antiviral medications have not been shown to be effective against calicivirus. The medications your pet would receive would depend on the symptoms he or she is exhibiting. A vet may use antibiotic eye ointment to treat secondary bacterial infections that cause conjunctivitis. If your cat is showing other signs of bacterial infection, your vet will prescribe oral antibiotics. And if your cat seems to have trouble standing or is having obvious pain from arthritis, your vet may recommend pain medication to help increase your cat’s comfort level.


Medical Treatments for H1N1 and Coryza

Unfortunately, medical treatments for this type of cat flu are limited. If your cat comes down with a secondary bacterial infection, your vet will treat this with antibiotics. If the cat is dehydrated, the vet may administer fluid therapy to help bring more fluids into the body.


How Worried Should I Be About Coryza?

As we’ve all learned from Gilles, coryza can signal serious health issues that may even be deadly. So if your cat has discharge from the nose and eyes, pay attention to what else is going on.

Take a look at the symptoms associated with each virus above (FVR, calicivirus or H1N1) and see if you can narrow down the cause of your cat’s coryza.

Talk to your vet if your cat is showing signs of bacterial infection or pneumonia that may be life-threatening and may need antibiotic treatment. And remember that natural methods to treat coryza focus on improving the cat’s overall health instead of only treating symptoms. Any remedy that can help a cat become more healthy can also reduce the likelihood of the cat experiencing worsening symptoms.

With homeopathic products alone, Gilles was able to help his favorite cat return to a state of wellness. And this turned around the health of the entire clowder.

Now, all the farm cats are thriving and Gilles couldn’t be happier!



Denise Lessard
Denise Lessard


Denyse Lessard is deemed as the “mother” of Zumalka, which was established more than ten years ago to provide easily accessible natural products for pet wellness worldwide.

Besides being a trained alternative medicine therapist, Denyse also has expertise in homeopathy, naturopathy and iridology, reflexology, as well as Chinese medicine. She is a long-standing member of the Professional Union of Homeopaths of Quebec, as well as the Association of Naturopaths and Naturotherapists of Quebec.

Denyse’s philosophy as regards pet wellness is not just about only dealing with disease and illness when they get in the picture, but keeping animals in ideal health each and every day.

Find out more about Denyse when you click HERE.

2 Responses


August 03, 2020

Hi Marie,

Thank you for your comment!! We are very sorry to hear that the virus is spreading quickly among the kittens! We will do all we can to help.

We have sent you a private email to get some more details from you so we can help with the most targeted treatments to rid the virus and symptoms as soon as possible!

We look forward to working with you.

Warm regards,


August 03, 2020

Ive had a litter of kittens dumped off that Ive taken good care of for 2 mos. They’re about 3 mos now. I’ve feed them kitten formula ,sardines,salmon & Purina One kitten chow the entire time so they should be healthy,but an older stray cat gave them a rapidly spreading upper respiratory virus. I’ve been treating them with Amox & L’Argenine and feeding them canned food w formula in a dropper, but is there anything else I can do to speed it up? Thank you.

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