Cat Sneezing – The Causes and What It Means
23 December, 2014
Cat Sneezing Doctor Visit

Just as in humans, if you find your cat sneezing, there really is no reason to become alarmed.  Usually, when your cat sneezes, it’s just a result of a tickle in his nose.  Yet, if your cat sneezes frequently, especially one after another, it usually means they are allergic or developing allergies.  It could be pollen, dust mites, household cleaners so take note of what’s in the air. Allergies may also cause runny nose or eyes, as well as skin irritation, so check with your veterinarian for medication if your kitty needs itch relief.

Short-lived sneezing reactions may be prompted by a cat’s curiosity. Your playful kitty might accidentally find irritants spread by other critters, like mice or cockroaches. Often, a sneeze or two will clear the nasal passages, but don’t overlook that vermin could have introduced the irritant and you might need to call an exterminator.

Why do cats sneeze?

Cats sneeze regularly, just like humans, to discharge matter from their noses that causes irritation of the mucous membrane. Although a sneeze every now and again is perfectly normal, frequent sneezing, especially with runny discharge, is not. A sick cat will paw at his nose, have discharge from both the eyes and nose, appear lethargic and may develop a lack of appetite. If a cat can’t smell his food because of a stuffy nose, he may not want to eat, which can cause more serious medical problems. At the first sign of frequent sneezing, it’s time to visit the veterinarian for a proper diagnosis.

Cat Sneezing Doctor Visit


Cats sneeze due to allergies to environment and/or diet

Seasonal or food allergies can sometimes be the cause of frequent sneezing in cats. Pollen and other environmental allergens irritate your cat’s nose and cause him to sneeze, usually accompanied by wheezing. Antihistamines are used to treat allergies in cats and alleviate symptoms; steroids can also help reduce inflammation. To deal with allergies, your veterinarian may place your cat on a hypoallergenic diet, which consists of a few ingredients such as potato, rabbit and duck. These unusual proteins are less likely to cause allergy symptoms. If your cat reacts well to the diet, ingredients are slowly added back in to determine which one is causing the allergic reaction so you can avoid it.

Cats also sneeze frequently if they have a virus

The most common causes of sneezing and upper respiratory infections in cats are the feline herpes virus and calicivirus. This virus is passed from cat to cat via direct contact through mutual grooming, the sharing of food and water or through the airborne mucous expelled by a sneeze of an infected cat. A more serious type of virus, the feline immunodeficiency virus, also can cause sneezing in cats. This virus is common in outdoor cats and is transmitted by deep bite wounds that occur during fights. The disease has no cure and can compromise your cat’s immune system. Either of these conditions needs to be diagnosed and treated by a veterinarian.

While there is no cure for a virus, you can alleviate the symptoms by administering a feline L-Lysine supplement to your cat. L-Lysine is an amino acid that helps to slow the spread of the virus in the body and speeds up the healing process. Provide your cat with a humidifier to keep the air around him moist and give him some relief from congestion. Reduce stress as much as possible, because stress can worsen your cat’s symptoms or even bring on an attack of the virus that causes sneezing. In serious cases, your cat may need to spend the night at the vet’s to receive intravenous fluids, nutrition and medication.

Other reasons that your cat might be sneezing

Foreign matter in the nose can cause frequent sneezing in your cat. A tumor in the nostrils or dental disease also can be the cause of your cat’s sneezes. Upper respiratory infections are usually caused by a viral infection but also can be caused by bacteria. The bacteria are highly contagious and can be transmitted through physical contact or shared food and water dishes. To treat a bacterial infection, your veterinarian will prescribe antibiotics. Left untreated, an upper respiratory infection can develop into pneumonia, a life-threatening illness. Isolate your cat to prevent him from infecting any other cats in your home until he shows no more symptoms of illness.

Some vaccines can help ongoing sneezing

Some medical conditions that cause frequent sneezing in cats can be prevented by a vaccine. The FVRCP vaccine is available to prevent most strains of feline herpes or minimize the effects of the disease. A vaccine is also available for FIV. Speak with your veterinarian about these vaccines, especially in multiple cat homes. It is always a good idea to isolate a newly adopted cat or kitten for a few weeks before exposing them to your existing cat, in case your new kitty carries a virus or bacteria.

As with most symptoms, some sneezing is OK and nothing to worry about for your cat.  If it continues for more than a day, make sure to take your cat to the veterinarian for a check- up.

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