Why Is My Cat Sneezing: Causes and Treatments


Your cat may sneeze for several reasons, but the most common is a tickle in the nose. Cats, like people, can get a tickle in their nose and sneeze to get rid of whatever is causing it. It could be hair, dust, a chemical irritant or a reaction to a particular odour. It is normal for a healthy and active cat to sneeze sometimes, but if your cat sneezes constantly and this makes you wonder, "Why is my cat sneezing?" Keep reading because, in this article, we will answer the question and also take a look at everything you need to know about cats sneezing.

Some cats sneeze as part of normal life. There is probably nothing to worry about if your cat occasionally sneezes once or twice, then go about its business as usual. However, you should keep a check on it to make sure the sneezing stops. If the sneezing persists or is accompanied by other symptoms, you need to see a veterinarian to determine the possible causes.

Constant sneezing in cats can have many causes. It could be environmental; for example, if your cat only sneezes in one place or when performing certain activities, this means that your cats may be allergic to something around the place.

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Cat Sneezing with Other Symptoms

Cat sneezing in combination with other symptoms may indicate something serious. The following are some of the signs that come with cat sneezing:

My Cat Is Sneezing and Coughing

When a cat sneezes and coughs, this can be a sign of upper respiratory disease, especially if there is an excess of mucus. The common cause may be feline herpes virus or feline calicivirus.

My Cat Is Sneezing and Wheezing

This may be a sign of environmental allergies, asthma, pneumonia (infection in the lungs), heartworm or respiratory problem in cats.

My Cat Is Sneezing with Nasal Discharge

This may indicate dental disease or that your cat inhaled irritants and allergens. If the discharge comes with blood or pus-coloured mucus, take a picture before cleaning your cat's face because it can help the vet narrow down the causes.

My Cat Is Sneezing with Chronic Nose Bleeding

This may raise the concern for cancer, particularly in senior cats, but this is not conclusive.

Causes of Cat Sneezing

There are many reasons behind frequent cat sneezing. If your cat's sneezing is more than occasional, if it comes with blood or mucus discharge, if it has a concurrent discharge from the eyes or comes with cough, this could be an indication of something serious. The following are some of the potential causes of cats sneezing:

Dust, Pollen, Cleaning Supplies, etc

Cats are curious creatures. They are known to stick their noses everywhere, under furniture, in corners and old stinky shoes. Your cat sneezing could be a reaction to a common household irritant like dust, mould and cleaning materials. Some cats can also be sensitive to inhaled perfumes, tobacco smoke and various chemicals.

Feline Respiratory Infections

This is another cause of cat sneezing especially viral infections such as feline herpesvirus. It can cause excessive sneezing in cats, just like the kind of herpes virus that affects people. The two cannot be transmitted between each other, so you should not be concerned about contracting herpes from your cat.

In fact, the herpes virus is very common and usually causes symptoms of sneezing in cats, but it only lasts for a few weeks and then goes back into hibernation. If this virus infects your cat, the cat will remain infected for the rest of its life. However, it rarely puts a cat's health at risk.           

If your feline pal has been sneezing continuously for some days or has other symptoms of illness, you should contact your veterinarian for a test. This infection may come with cough, excessive tears or discharge from the eyes. The cat should be able to bounce back to normal after a round of antibiotics. A natural application of homoeopathic therapy can also help.

Dental Disease

In some cases, dental illness can cause sneezing in cats, especially when it affects greater areas of the mouth. Dental disease that affects the gums, teeth, and even the roof of the mouth can cause sneezing and other respiratory symptoms. It is not something most cat owners consider checking, but the problem in your cat’s teeth can easily spread to their sinuses and affect them there. Take your cat to the vet for a dental check if the sneeze comes with losing of appetite or swollen gums.

Foreign Bodies Ingestion

This means the presence of an object in the nose when it is not naturally supposed to be there. It is caused by inhaling small enough objects to enter the respiratory tract but too big to pass beyond that point. When cats inhale these items, their body response is to sneeze to remove the foreign material.

When Should I Worry About My Cat Sneezing?

If your cat has been sneezing a lot for several days or is showing other signs of illness, you should take it to the vet for a test. This is because many of these disorders are painful and uncomfortable, taking your cat to the vet as soon as you suspect a problem. You should worry about your cat sneezing if it shows any of the following signs:

  • Weight loss
  • Sneezes blood
  • Persistence of symptoms beyond a few days
  • Nasal discharge
  • Tears from the eye
  • Fever
  • Constant sneezing
  • Laboured breathing, snoring or breathing through the mouth
  • Coughs
  • Lethargy

Diagnosis of Sneezing in Cats

Do not delay taking your cat to a veterinary clinic as soon as you observe the symptoms. If not tackled early, some infections and diseases can advance to the point where they are life-threatening. The vet will ask about your cat's medical history, including the shots received and the beginning of symptoms. He will conduct a thorough physical checkup to identify any obvious signs of health problems. A dental test could be included in the physical examination to see if the sneeze is caused by dental problems.

The vet will likely run various tests to determine the condition of your cat's health. Commonly encountered viruses include calicivirus, feline herpesvirus (FHVs) and reovirus. The following are some of the tests involved in order to diagnose the cause of cats sneezing:

Nasal biopsy: This is used to determine if any tumours are present.

Lavage: For flushing of the nasal passages.

Intradermal: This is done to identify environmental and nutritional allergies that your cat may be sensitive to.

Radiographs (X-rays): This is to rule out masses/tumours.

Rhinoscopy: It is a camera or a thin, tube-like instrument used to visualise the nasal passages and eliminate foreign bodies.

Deep nasal tissue culture: This is to identify the bacteria and fungi causing the infection.

Treatment of Cat Sneezing

Treatment for cat sneezing depends on the underlying reason. While there are many therapies available, you should be aware that in most situations, particularly chronic cases, the objective is to minimise the severity and the frequency of symptoms rather than to cure them. Antibiotics taken repeatedly or for long periods have proven to be helpful in reducing the symptoms. Other treatments, which have different levels of effectiveness, include:

Supportive Care: Despite the fact that viral infections cannot be cured, supportive treatment can significantly increase your cat's chances of overcoming the virus. Appetite stimulants may be needed to entice the cat to eat and fluids may need to be replaced intravenously. Humidifiers can help decongest your cat's nose by moistening it. And supplements can help in the recovery process by boosting the immune system.

Surgery: Your cat may need surgery if the nasal tumour is blocking the nostril. To surgically remove the tumour, it requires general anaesthesia and comes with risk. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy may be needed to treat the condition if the tumours are cancerous. In the case of foreign objects like seeds or blades of grass blocking the nose, the vet will need to remove the lodged items with special instruments.

If the sneezing is caused by a fungal infection, the antifungal drugs can help relieve the symptoms and remove the fungi causing the issue. And if the cause is related to poor dental care, dental hygiene should be corrected to relieve sneezing. This includes daily tooth brushing your cat to keep the teeth and gums healthy.

Recovery from Cat Sneezing

As your cat is recovering from the infection, please do your best to strengthen its immune system and reduce stressful situations in your home. Feed your cat high-quality food and make sure all the ingredients are beneficial for your cat. Make sure your cat has convenient and constant access to clean water.

Remove all synthetic air fresheners from the house and avoid exposing the cat to perfume, cigarette smoke and other chemicals since these can aggravate sneezing. Investing in an air purifier could be helpful.

Lastly, vaccinating your cats against feline herpesvirus can significantly reduce the virus's impact on the cat if an infection occurs. Keeping your cat indoors may be the best way to avoid sneezing.

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