Half of Canberra's human population is down with the flu this winter - and so are the cats. While the viruses that affect cats' respiratory systems are quite different to the ones that affect humans the signs are similar: runny eyes and noses, sneezing, snuffling and snorting. Some cats suffer from mouth ulcers, too, but coughs and chest infections are mercifully rare.
Cat flu is spread by aerosol or nose to nose contact so outdoor cats or cats who run in outdoor enclosures are the most likely to be infected.
While the cat flu vaccination doesn't always prevent illness, it reduces the severity of the signs and shortens the duration of the illness. Annual vaccination is strongly recommended as immunity wanes within a year.
Some cats, especially kittens or insufficiently vaccinated adults, suffer secondary bacterial, mycoplasma or chlamydial infections. If your sneezing cat refuses dinner or has pus in the eyes or nose then antibiotics are indicated.
At home you can offer strong smelling foods, keep the air moist with a vaporiser or pop your cat in a steamy bathroom. Wiping secretions away from the nose and eyes with a moist cotton ball will make your cat feel more comfortable.