Dear Christopher Cat
We just adopted a cat from the shelter. Stormy is sneezing, but otherwise she is fine. Should we give her Children’s Tylenol Cold medicine?
You’re right that Stormy may have a cold, but she shouldn’t be treated with Tylenol.
Products that contain acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol, are extremely toxic to cats.
Acetaminophen damages the hemoglobin in cats’ red blood cells (RBCs). This decreases the number of RBCs – and interferes with the oxygen-carrying capacity of the remaining RBCs.
The drug can also damage the liver. The end result is often death.
Cats’ colds, or upper respiratory infections, are usually caused by viruses, just as your human colds are.
The best therapy starts with good supportive care, like humidifying the air if our noses are stuffy. If we can’t smell our food, we won’t eat it, so you might need to warm it slightly to enhance the appetizing aromas.
If our immune systems are overwhelmed by the viruses, we can develop a secondary bacterial infection, which might require an antibiotic. Antibiotics have no effect on viruses, however.
So take Stormy to the veterinarian for a thorough exam. And leave the Tylenol in the medicine cabinet for the humans in your family.