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Apple Cider Vinegar For Upper Respiratory Infection In Cats

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Apple Cider Vinegar For Upper Respiratory Infection in Cats

Many cats get upper respiratory infections. The symptoms often include running eyes, sneezing, goopy eyes, lethargy, squinting, and red ears due to increased blood flow while sick. There can be other symptoms as well such as coughing or wheezing. This condition is often picked up when cats are in shelters so many rescue kitties get it and can be susceptible to re-occurrences throughout their lives. Some cats are more susceptible than others. Some may recover on their own after a few days while others need antibiotics from a veterinarian. Always get your cat checked by a vet first, but if you have a cat that gets recurrent upper respiratory infections you may want to try this home remedy of apple cider vinegar for upper respiratory infections in cats.

What is An Upper Respiratory Infection in Cats?

An upper respiratory infection in cats can be caused by both bacteria and viruses in much the same way that a cold, flu or sinus infection can affect humans. Common causes are the feline herpesvirus Type 1 which is also called feline viral rhinotracheitis and feline calicivirus. The treatment for an upper respiratory infection in cats may depend on whether it is caused by a bacteria or virus. This is why a veterinarian may prescribe a treatment that does not work and you will have to go back to the vet and try a different one. One prescription may be anti-bacterial and another may be anti-viral.

The symptoms of an upper respiratory infection may include runny nose, watering eyes, goop (yellow, green or brown) coming from the eyes, squinting eyes (this is the first sign we usually see), sneezing, coughing, wheezing, fatigue and red, hot ears. These are common symptoms but there can be more including ulcers on eyes or in mouth which can make eating painful. Cats can also have a fever and get dehydrated and lose their sense of smell.  Severe upper respiratory infections in cats should always be looked at by a vet but mild cases may be treated at home. Apple cider vinegar may help treat the infection since it is both anti-bacterial and anti-viral as well as anti-fungal. It also contains probiotics that aid in the body’s own defenses by boosting the immune system.

How Serious is An Upper Respiratory Infection in Cats?

Just like a cold or flu can go away in a few days in a human or turn into a very dangerous condition, it depends on the bacteria or virus causing the infection and the immunity of the individual cat. Some cats only get mild infections while others get dangerously sick to the point they have trouble breathing. In kittens or weak cats this can be deadly. Don’t dismiss an upper respiratory infection as something that will just go away. It could get much, much worse.

Many cats who have come from shelters or lived with many other cats contract these viruses and bacteria and often end up with re-occurrences of the infection throughout their lives. You never know when it might crop up. These bouts can be brought on by other illness or simply stress caused in the cat’s environment which weakens the immune system.

I know after years that one of my cats gets seriously sick when he gets an infection and another barely gets the sniffles. The one that gets seriously sick needs help to get over it while the other may be fine on her own after a few days. I am ready to take my susceptible boy to the vet if he does not respond to the apple cider vinegar. The others only need the vinegar for a few days and they are back to being perfectly healthy most every time.

How Does Apple Cider Vinegar Work for Cats With a Cold?

Apple cider vinegar is made from apples. Note that regular vinegar will not work for this. Make sure you get apple cider vinegar with the “mother” which looks like a brown cloudy mass at the bottom of the bottle. This vinegar is not treated to kill off the good bacteria which is what you need. There are many types of good bacteria in the mother and these are actually what we now call probiotics. Probiotics benefit cats just like they benefit people. They boost the immune system. Apple cider vinegar with the mother also contains enzymes good for digestion.

While apple cider vinegar contains good bacteria it also can kills bad bacteria which is why vinegar is used as a cleaner. It is also anti-fungal and anti-viral. Don’t pour it in your kitty’s water though or force them to ingest it. They won’t like the taste and there is a much better way to go about it. You don’t want to turn cats off from their water since lack of water leads to the most dangerous health conditions for cats such as kidney disease.

How to Use Apple Cider Vinegar For a Kitty Cold

Don’t put apple cider vinegar in your cat’s water! My cats don’t like the smell or taste and I doubt your’s will either. It is vitally important to make sure cats drink enough water. Putting something like vinegar in their water could result in them not drinking. Lack of water contributes to kidney disease which is the greatest single killer of cats over 5 years old. That is why I never add anything to my cat’s water.

You will be applying the apple cider vinegar to your cat’s fur after you dilute it with water. You may use up to a 50/50 ratio of vinegar to water but I would start with a lower ratio (more water, less vinegar) so it is not so strong for your cat. Try 1 to 4 parts (25% vinegar to 75% water) or 1 to 3 parts. I go straight to 50/50 now since my cats are somewhat used to it. They don’t like it but they know it isn’t the end of the world.

Take a clean paper towel or whatever you want to use and dab it into the mixture. Wipe that damp paper towel over your cat’s fur. I focus on the back of the neck, top of head, chest and front paws. Your cat will not like the smell but will feel compelled to lick it off to clean their fur. When they lick it up, they will ingest some and it can go to work helping your kitty’s immunity. If you work it into their fur it can also absorb through the skin.

Don’t let any liquid get in your cat’s ears. Water (or any other liquid) should never go in a cat’s ears since it can lead to problems like infections. I dab the paper towel over the thin fur in front of my cat’s ears however since the skin is more accessible.  Don’t put it near your cat’s eyes, nose or mouth. If you are unsure just stay away from the ears too. Wherever you put it you cat will want to lick it off.

That’s it! Just mix with water, dab a paper towel in it and brush on your cat’s fur. I do this twice per day when they are sick. In a few days they should be better. If not, go to the vet.

Supplement to Prevent Upper Respiratory Infections in Cats and Dogs

I have found a great supplement that helps prevent upper respiratory infections in cats in the first place. I give this to my cats every day in their food. It is from the Pet Alive brand which I really trust and rely on. I use several of their supplements daily for all my cats.

The supplement is called Immunity and Liver Support. It supports kidney, liver and urinary tract health in dog and cats, and supports hemoglobin levels. It keeps dogs and cats healthy and aids in recovery after illness. It can be used for cats and dogs both. It comes in capsule which I twist open and pour into my cat’s wet food. I mix it into the food rather than leave the powder on top. Because we have multiple cats and mix in multiple supplements we mix it all up in a batch and store it in the fridge. You can mix it in one serving at a time if you like but it saves a lot of time and hassle to make up a batch for us.

Immunity and Liver Support contains effective, all natural ingredients like all the Pet Alive products.

Here are the ingredients:

Ashwaganda (Withania somnifera): an anti-inflammatory that supports healthy liver, kidneys, blood and heart. It also aid in recovery after sickness.

Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea): an antibacterial, anti-fungal and antiviral, It supports treatment of conditions like AIDS and stimulates the lymphatic system and  immune system.

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinalis): contains vitamins A, B, C and D vitamins and minerals such as potassium, magnesium, iron, zinc and lecithin as well as many others.

Milk Thistle(Sylibum marianum)contains silymarin which is a flavanoid  most effective in aiding liver function. Milk thistle is commonly used in human supplements for liver health, flusing out toxins and regenerate liver cells. Milk thistle has been used by people for over 2,000 years! Silymarin is also an anti-oxidant.

Dosage of Immunity and Liver Support for Cats and Dogs

For dogs you can give them the whole capsule of Immunity and Liver Support whereas for cats, you would want to mix the powder into food.

The recommended dosage of for cats is 1/2 capsule twice per day. For small dogs it is the same. For medium dogs up to 50 pounds the dosage is 1 capsule twice per day and for dogs over 50 pounds it is 1 to 2 capsules twice per day.

I use less than the recommended dose because I give this twice a day every single day to my pets. I mix the powder from 2 capsules into wet food that will last my 4 cats for 3 meals. You could increase this to the recommended dose when your cat is sick. My cats don’t mind the taste but they are getting a lower dose so I am not sure how your cat will react. I would recommend starting with a smaller dose so your cats can get used to the taste. Mine don’t mind it at all. It has a fresh, herb like smell.

Other Pet Alive Supplements for Cats and Dogs

The other Pet Alive Supplement we use every day is called Gumz-N-Teeth. It has worked wonders keeping our cat’s teeth and gums healthy. This is important because dental cleaning and tooth extraction are common but very difficult and expensive requiring anesthesia for cats. This supplement helps prevent and treat tarter and plaque on teeth and keep gums from getting gingivitis. Instead of needing teeth cleaning and extraction every year, our orange tabby has been able to go many years now between dental visits. This supplement works so well our veterinarians now recommend it too!

We add this to the wet cat food along with Immunity and Live Support. Here is more information about Gumz-n-Teeth for dogs and cats. Here is more information about the line of Pet Alive Supplements including those for arthritis, digestion and much more.

Can Dog and Cats Get the New 2019 Novel Coronavirus?

Read my post to find the answer.Click the link right above.

Please note: I am not a veterinarian. Nothing in this post constitutes medical advice. Always see a veterinarian before attempting to diagnose or treat any medical condition.


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  1. Jill du Preez

    Hi Jessica, What a great way to get the cats to ingest the Apple Cider Vinegar. I am a great believer of Apple Cider Vinegar but had never through t of it being used for cats or any other animals for that matter.
    Will definitely keep this in mind and also pass this information on to my family and friends.
    Thank you.

    1. Jessica (Post author)

      Hello Jill,

      I never thought of it before I happened to stumble across it and then did more research. Sure enough, it works!


  2. Dino

    This is a great piece of work here Jessica!

    Your post is offering all the scientific information an average cat owner needs, in order to be able to deal with the Upper Respiratory Infection, when it appears. As you said it maybe something that can easily go, but in some cases it might be hard to heal and it may lead to more serious health issues to our lovely little friends.

    It is great to know now that this condition can be treated with a product like Apple Cider Vinegar, and how easy it is to find and use.

    Thank you for this well constructed, full of useful information post!

    1. Jessica (Post author)

      Thanks Dino. It is great when we can find a product that really works but it safe, affordable and easily accessible. I hope more people learn about these easy remedies so cats can get treated right away with something that may help.
      Thank you,

  3. Amanda

    Braggs Apple Cider is good for more than just cats but it is good to know this. I once bathed my cat in diluted apple cider for fleas. Apple cider vinegar also has properties that help with our immunity and also works well for heart burn., never would have believed it til I found out myself.

    You’ve got some great resources here, the vet can be very expensive so its nice to know if you recognize the symptoms you can treat it yourself.

    1. Jessica (Post author)

      I am sure your cat was not pleased with that bath! I have never tried that but thank goodness we live where there are not fleas! I would not use too much vinegar on a cat since it would be bad for them to ingest a great amount and too much over time can erode the teeth as well.

      Thank you for your thoughts here and for stopping by,

  4. Missy

    I really liked reading your post about apple cider vinegar being used to help cats fight off upper resipiratory infections. Apple cider vinegar with the “mother” (I always thought that was such a weird name for the stuff in it) is known to help so many different issues in humans, I’m definitely not surprised it can help our cats as well.

    I definitely agree that it’s important to see your vet if it doesn’t go away pretty quickly too. My cat, Cuddles, developed what I thought was a cold – runny eyes, runny nose, sneezing – but it didn’t go away so I took him to the vet. After several trips to the vet and trying a few medications, he started developing a bump above the left side of his nose between his eyes. When my vet saw that, she knew it wasn’t a cold but that my cat was developing a tumor in his nose. With treatment to control the tumor’s growth, Cuddles lived another 2 years (my vet thought he’d only have 6 months max).

    The moral of the story is always take your pet to the vet if he or she doesn’t get better in a couple days or so with home treatment. If I had waited, I probably would have lost Cuddles much sooner. His case was terminal but at least we were able to get some extra time with him and try to make him more comfortable.

    1. Jessica (Post author)

      I am sorry you lost your boy. That is so sad. I agree. We always need to take our cats to the vet. Mine go regularly. I am only recommending this if your cat has already been to the vet and it is confirmed that nothing else is going on.

      Thank you for stopping by,

  5. Coreena

    Hi Jessica, thanks for this article.

    Do you need to keep apple cider vinegar refridgerated and does it go out of date? I’m wondering because I found some in the pantry the other day – I’ve no idea how long its been hiding up the back! I was going to tip it out but now i’m wondering if I can still use it.

    1. Jessica (Post author)

      Hello Coreena,

      I do not keep the bottle refrigerated. I do notice a film develops on the top of the vinegar/water mixture however so you need to just make a small batch every few days and cover it when you don’t use it or keep it refrigerated.

      Thanks for stopping by,

  6. Alexis

    Thanks for the information! How clever to rub it on their fur so they lick it. I know my cats don’t have any upper respiratory infections, but they do wheeze from time to time so I think I will try this for basis immunity support, as I am a HUGE apple cider vinegar advocate for humans!

    1. Jessica (Post author)

      Hi Alexis,
      I am glad you like this idea. It works well for my kitties. It should help your kitties but I would not use it all the time since the vinegar can be hard on the teeth if used all the time.
      Thanks for stopping by,

  7. Ryan


    Wow I had no idea that Apple cider vinegar could benefit counts with upper respiratory issues!  I’m always looking for natural remedies so I was very happy to see you bringing this information to light. Our animal friends need natural cures too. Great job on having a very detailed post on these issues, I’m definitely gonna share this information so my friends and family can know that there are natural remedies out there for their cats.

    – Ryan

    1. Jessica (Post author)

      Thanks Ryan. It is great when these old-school tricks work so well, save money, time and stress and we don’t have to go get prescriptions all the time. Sometimes antibiotics are required but for mild cases, this always works for my cats. 


  8. Nuttanee

    Wow, I cannot believe that there are so many benefits in apple cider vinegar! I am glad that our furry friends can benefit from that as well. Thank you for sharing this recipe, and the tips. I will use it on my Sno Sno when he gets sick. That is a neat trick to wipe the vinegar on his fur! He will fight me for it but we will see lol. Also thanks for sharing the gumz n teeth, it will definitely help with tartar, hopefully we do not have to go see the vets that often 🙂

    1. Jessica (Post author)


      I am glad you found this useful. I hope it works well for your cat. It has worked for all of my cats except a few times with a bad case when they still needed a prescription from the vet. 

      Thanks for stopping by and for your thoughts,


  9. freefromtheboss


    I’m so glad I found your article! I have a rescue cat for a little over a year now. He’s roughly about eight years ols and he has been sneezng quite a lot lately. I never really took much notice until he started wheezing every now and again, it has scared me due to his age.

    I’m reluctant to bring him to the vet as I don’t like medicine per se so it’s quite a relief to find an alternative natural remedy and I’m thrilled at that prospect

    My boy Felix is forever grooming and cleaning himself so I will take your advice and rub it through his coat with a paper towel.

    I’m just curious, as my dog drinks from the same bowl as my cat, would it harm him if I put the apple cider vinegar in there also?

    thanks for sharing!

    1. Jessica (Post author)


      No, I would not put vinegar or anything else in my pet’s water. They don’t like the taste of the vinegar so it would deter them from drinking the water. This is the worst thing you could possibly do for a cat as they need water and many end up with kidney disease when they don’t get enough water. They can also get UTI’s and many other diseases if they don’t drink enough. Especially when cats eat dry food, they need extra water. 

      Thank you for stopping by and for your thoughts. 


  10. C

    Thank you for this great article. It is very important to get the apple cider vinegar with the mother because it has more benefits. Good point about not putting it in the cat’s water. You wouldn’t want to discourage them from drinking water. That’s smart to put it on the cat, so they will lick it off themselves. And they can ingest enough of it that way? Well that’s very good. Better than compromising their relationship with drinking water. 

    Pet Alive supplements also sound like a great way to treat upper respiratory infection in cats. Thanks!

    1. Jessica (Post author)

      Hello C,

      Yes, they get enough from the diluted vinegar/water being dabbed on their fur. It only takes a tiny bit (for a few days) to work. I hate all the stuff people try to sell you to put in cat’s water. If you put stuff in the water it may change the taste and make them less likely to drink which causes the most common health problems in cats like kidney disease! 

      If you put something in the water then you might not want to dump it out every day and give them fresh water either. I make sure my cats get fresh water every day as bacteria can build up in the bowl. 

      Thanks for your thoughts here!


  11. Carol M

    Hi Jessica. Thanks for this excellent post. One of our cats has an apparent sinus infection with frequent sneezing. I’m going to try the apple cider vinegar today! Thanks so much for this information.

    1. Jessica (Post author)

      Hello Carol,

      I hope it works well for you and your cat! Thanks for stopping by,


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