How Long To Quarantine A Sick Cat With URI [Answered]

Welcome to our comprehensive guide on handling feline upper respiratory infections (URIs) - a widespread issue that leaves many cat owners scrambling for answers. In this piece, we answer the question - how long to quarantine a sick cat with URI?

If you're a pet parent grappling with this question, fret not, we have some answers coming your way.

Poor sick kitten with an infection and discharge, How Long To Quarantine A Sick Cat With URI

The Intricacies of Quarantining a Cat with an Upper Respiratory Infection

Upper Respiratory Infections (URIs) are a common predicament that cat owners often find themselves battling against.

This issue amplifies in multi-cat homes, where isolating an unwell pet becomes crucial. Many pet parents ponder the duration of this isolation period.

A cat diagnosed with a URI must be separated from other cats for a minimum of 1-2 weeks.

This isolation is instrumental in reducing the chances of the infection spreading to other members of the pet family.

It is also important to schedule a veterinary examination for the unwell cat during this period of quarantine.

However, the information mentioned above barely scratches the surface of the extensive knowledge needed to effectively manage URIs.

The subsequent segments of this article will encompass a detailed discussion of the symptoms of URIs, various treatment options, and proven methods to isolate a sick cat.

Cat in a medical veterinary clinic

What Are Symptoms of Upper Respiratory Infection in Cats?

Cat owners can expect an upper respiratory infection to look quite familiar. In fact, it affects a cat much like the common cold does human beings.

You'll notice telltale signs such as coughing, sneezing, congestion, fever, runny nose, and discharge from a cat's eyes.

Another thing to check is ulcers within the mouth or around their eyes and nose. Cats will respond to them by pawing at their mouth and nose.

These signs are clear indicators of a cat suffering from a URI.

It's not uncommon to see an infected cat suffer from behavioral changes. For example, it could present itself in a loss of appetite, poor grooming, or being lethargic.

Anything a person could think of when describing their condition when fighting a cold.

Sadly, cats don't make it easy for their owners to see these signs. Cats are notorious for trying to mask their pain and hide their symptoms when feeling unwell. So owners have to be vigilant and look for any signs of illness.

Moreover, experts recommend scheduling a yearly appointment with your cat's vet. It's another method of combating a cat's tendency to hide its pain.

These vet visits also allow owners to ask any questions or concerns about their cat's health, personality, or lifestyle.

How Do You Quarantine a Cat with URI?

After noticing any symptoms, it's time to isolate your cat away from everyone else.

This isolation isn't for the owner's sake but for any other cats within the household. Upper respiratory infections are very contagious among felines.

So how does an owner go about isolating their cat? There are several steps to take to keep the cat contained successfully.

Here's a step-by-step  rundown of what owners can do to ensure nothing goes wrong during the 1-2 week quarantine period:

Step 1:

Clean the food/water bowls, litter box, and carrier of your infected cat. Ensure to wash any bedding they might have used before allowing other cats to sleep on it.

Step 2:

Set up a comfortable resting area for the sick within a separate room.

Step 3:

Leave behind plenty of fresh water.

Step 4:

Place a litter box inside the room. If wondering about where to put it inside the room, check out "Where To Put The Litter Box? A Concise Room-By-Room Guide."

Step 5:

Use a towel or blanket to place at the door's bottom to cover the gap. This will help to keep the other cats from smelling or touching their paws under the door.

Step 6:

Check on the cat multiple times during the day.

Step 7:

Wash your hands after interacting with the sick cat carefully.

Step 8:

Change your shirt after tending to your sick cat. It'll help avoid spreading the URI to your other cats when petting or playing with them.

Quarantining your sick kitty shouldn't be too difficult if you stick to this plan. But it's essential to stay on your toes.

Don't assume they won't try to escape or attempt a mad dash to the door because of the illness.

How long does a URI last in a cat?

In most cases, a URI will usually resolve itself within one to two weeks. Cat owners can breathe a sigh of relief as this infection is rarely fatal.

However, if the condition is bacterial, your vet may prescribe antibiotics.

But typically, these infections are often viral. So there isn't an entirely effective treatment besides allowing your cat's immune system to work and giving it time.

Another thing to watch out for is that a sick cat may not drink or eat enough. These situations can lead to severe dehydration.

As a result, your cat might need hospitalization and fluid supplementation to combat these issues.

A URI can cause a severe disease like pneumonia in some rarer cases. These more severe conditions will also require additional medical attention. It's why setting up a visit with your vet is such a crucial part of the quarantine period. 

How can I help my cat recover from URI?

Cat owners aren't entirely helpless when taking care of a cat with a URI. There are specific actions to take to help them heal a bit faster.

If you follow these steps, your cat should recover more quickly.

Feed Your Cat Canned Wet Food

Canned pet food in a orange plastic bowl

A URI can make your cat's throat feel a little sore. It can cause their swallowing to be painful, especially when eating dry food.

So it's much better to provide them with flavorful wet food that goes down a bit easier.

On a similar note, wet food has a more pungent smell than dry food.

It'll even break through a stuffed-up nose that often comes with a URI. Plus, wet food options have a much high water content to help with dehydration issues.

Don't Provide Them With OTC Supplements or Medicine.

You should never provide your cat with OTC [over-the-counter] supplements or medicine.

It's only a good idea to medicate your cats when prescribed by a vet. Otherwise, it's best to let the immune system do its job.

Clean Any Discharge from Their Eyes and Nose

URI infections will cause discharge to leak from your cat's nose and eyes. Don't let those fluids linger on these areas as it's uncomfortable and highly gross.

Instead, clean them off with a clean paper towel or tissue.

Cleaning persian chinchilla cat's eyes with cotton pad

Humidify the Air

Steam can do wonders when cleaning a human's sinuses. It's no different for our sick felines who might appreciate being on the floor or counter when you steam up the bathroom.

We'd even recommend turning on the hot water and providing them with a steam room treatment a couple of times per day.

It'll also solve their curiosity about what goes on within the bathroom area. After all, cats are notorious for always trying to follow their humans into bathrooms. 

Buying an air purifier is another way to help deal with sinus issues in cats. If you're interested, check out our article "Do Litter Box Air Purifiers Help? (Plus 7 You Can Try For Yourself!)" for more information.

Don't Use Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is a holistic go-to food supplement that many people swear by.

But it has shown no benefits to helping cats fight off URIs. So there's no point in applying it to your cat's food, eyes, nose, skin, or throat.

Minimize Their Stress

Nice cat relaxing at home on pet bed

You'll want to minimize your sick cat's stress as much as possible. In other words, keep them away from areas that'll make them anxious or scared.

It's best to keep them in a room where there isn't a lot of access to outside noise or distractions.

Wrapping Up: Quarantine Your Cat

The quarantining of a sick cat with an upper respiratory infection is a 1-2 week process.

It's the only way to ensure no other cats within a household pick up the condition. Otherwise, every cat could soon be suffering from the same symptoms.

Don't forget to leave a post and share how your cat's quarantine experience went in our comment section. Thanks for reading!