What Does It Mean if Your Cat is Sneezing?
30 September, 2015

When our cats are sick, it can difficult to really understand what they are experiencing as they obviously can’t communicate with us!  When a cat sneezes, it can be equally confusing.  There are many reasons why a cat might sneeze.  If there isn’t any dischargefrom your cats’ eyes or nose and he or she is eating normally, then your kitty probably doesn’t have a cold.  However, if there is discharge from your cat’s ears or nose, then you kitty might have a cold or upper respiratory infection.

An upper respiratory infection in a cat is more like the flu in humans because it can be very difficult to cure without medical help, especially in kittens, senior cats and/or those with chronic health problems.   And, of course, any kitten, no matter how active, should be seen by a veterinarian at the first sign of a cold. However, if your cat refuses to eat or move, you should bring your cat to a veterinarian immediately.

Below are the symptoms to look out for in your kitty that might signal a respiratory infection:

Sneezing, especially occurring as a series of sneezing over the course of a few hours, or frequently over several days; discharge from the eyes or nose; this may be watery, bloody, or thick and colored clear, yellow or green; coughing or excessive swallowing (if there is drainage into the back of the mouth and throat); lethargic; loss of appetite; fever, dehydration or a raised eyelid.



How to treat a cold or upper respiratory infection

Use a vaporizer:  By using a vaporizer, it can help produce warm moist air that will help drain your cats’ nasal passages and sinuses. To treat the bacterial component of the cold, your cat will require antibiotics.

Keep your cat away from any draft:  It’s important to keep your pet warm and comfortable while he or she isn’t feeling well. It’s true that a cat mainly relies on his fur to keep him warm, but cold drafts provide added stress to his body, and stress can keep the immune system from functioning as it should. If necessary, move your cat’s bedding to a warmer location in the house.

Keep the mucus away:  Wipe away secretions with a warm, moist paper towel and discard.  Keep the eyes and nose free of discharge using cotton moistened with warm water to remove the discharge.

Make sure your kitty drinks plenty of water: Although your cat may feel less like drinking while he’s ill, it’s important to keep up his fluid intake to prevent dehydration. Make sure your cat has fresh water available and feed him more moist food at this time if you normally feed you kitty dry food. Cats really take in more moisture from their food than by drinking.  

Try to get your cat to eat:  You can also try to warm up canned food or give your cat a meat flavored baby food to encourage your cat to eat.  Try adding warm chicken broth to dry food or whatever it takes to get your cat to eat.

If your cat doesn’t eat at all, he or she might need to be fed intravenously

If your cat is not eating or is dehydrated, your cat will be hospitalized and put on intravenous fluids until he is eating on his own. B vitamins and appetite stimulants may also be used to help his appetite to return. If neither of these methods help with your cat’s appetite, he may need to be force fed for a while.

If the symptoms resolve only to return a few weeks later, chances are your cat does not have a cold and further blood tests will need to be taken.

If your cat’s cold is due to a herpes virus infection, he may have occasional recurrences of the symptoms. As with people, you cannot get rid of a herpes virus; all you can do is treat the symptoms when they appear.  This is why it is important to keep up with your cats’ boosters and FIV virus shots when they are kittens.

Preventing an upper respiratory infection             

Although there is no way to completely prevent a cat from getting a cold or infection, you can help boost his immune system so he is better able to fight off cold by keeping your cat’s living space clean.  Make sure to wash your cat’s food bowl and water dish daily.  By keeping your cat properly vaccinated and limiting his or her exposure to the outside also helps.  Indoor cats tend to be healthier.


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