Admit it! It’s actually cute to see your cat sneezes! However, if it’s what your kitty does for a long time, then it’s not cute anymore. It becomes something alarming. Do cats actually sneeze? Is it really a sneeze? And why do cats sneeze in the first place?
Basically, if your cat sneezes occasionally, it’s normal and you shouldn’t be worried about it. Just like humans, cats sneeze as a response to something irritable in their nasal drains. Nostril tickle can also end up with a sneeze.
Yet, if after one sneeze then come another one and another one, this can be a sign of allergies. Yes, cats can have allergies as well. And the allergens can be cigarette smoke, household cleaners, strong fragrance, dust mites, or pollen. In this case, you should be able to check your air environment.
And when they sneeze, the explosive air comes out through their mouth and nose. In some cases, movement or even excitement can make your cat sneeze as well.
On the other hand, you should be alarmed if the sneezing always comes most of the time. If this happens, you should check the other symptoms which may accompany the sneezing itself. And visit your vet as soon as possible.
If you take a look at it deeper, sometimes the real cause of your cat’s sneezing is more than an allergy, or just excitement. The vet may have to observe the cat’s symptoms to find out whether sneezing is just a sign of a serious disease or just sensitive nasal nerves.
The vet should also check the nose, eyes, throat, and mouth of the cat to confirm if there’s an infection. Your cat may also have to inhale some allergens which are commonly the cause of allergy in cats.
If the allergy is negative, sneezing in cats may be caused by fungal, bacterial, or viral infection. And it is the respiratory area of the cat which is affected. Respiratory infection is more like colds in humans.
This condition usually happens to kittens and those from the animal shelters. So if you adopt a cat from the shelter, it’s better to always check its condition to the vet to make sure there’s no medical issue followed. Plus, always give your newly-adopted kitten a complete vaccination, because it can prevent infection.
When it comes to infections, viral infections in cats which may lead to sneezing include:
Beware! This is a highly infectious virus among cats. It affects mouth ulcers at first, but later on it can also affect respiratory system which lead to pneumonia.
Herpes is also highly contagious among cats, and this virus can spread to other cats which come in contact with the infected cat. Combine it with stress, and the transmission can be doubled up to success. The treatment given is meant to control the symptoms, not completely remove the virus. But don’t worry because feline herpes virus cannot contaminate humans.
Those two infections can affect respiratory tract and make your cat sneezing. A cat with herpes virus can get secondary bacterial infection, and the medical issues can go on and on. However, those can be treated with antibiotics.
Yet, the infection is only limited to calicivirus and feline herpes virus. There are other mild infections which can cause sneezing in cats.
Generally, you don’t have to worry that much if your cat sneeze. It’s just a reflexive action produced by the upper airways to get rid of something disturbing in the nasal cavity.
However, even though some cats do have nasal discharge when they are sneezing, you should carefully observe the type of discharge it is. Nasal discharge is a clean sign of diseases in the nose or irritation. They can be cloudy, clear, and even blood tinged when it comes to appearance.
The nasal discharge can come out from both nostrils and only one. Observed from nasal discharge, your cat’s condition can be categorized to chronic to acute. It’s considered acute when the discharge comes suddenly.
If you find blood in your cat’s nose, it may not be nasal discharge because of sneezing. It can be nose bleeding. And this can be a sign of a tick-borne infection, bleeding disorder, tumor, or an injury. This is the time when you should visit the vet as soon as possible.
Like other animals, cats sneeze and produce nasal discharge to show a sign of many different conditions, and we can’t easily categorize them only based on the symptoms. Visiting the vet to get a test is always recommended.
Some disorders which cause sneezing are self limiting, like viral infection. Whereas the others are occasional, like seasonal allergies. The conditions which need immediate treatment and high care include foreign object and body in the nasal cavity as well as tumor.
Actually, nasal diseases in cats can infect all cats in any age, breed, and gender. However, younger cats and kittens are more prone to infectious respiratory diseases which are typically caused by viruses. Birth defects, like cleft palate, can also affect cat’s nose.
Older cats which overly sneeze from time to time should be taken to the vet. Tumor or chronic dental disease can play a part.
Cats that spend most of their time outdoor are also more susceptible in accidentally inhale foreign objects, like foxtails which can cause acute symptoms. And this can lead to chronic upper airway medical issue.
Some fungal infections, like Cryptococcus, are also more easily found in cats than dogs. And this can cause your cat sneezing from time to time.
Cats can also develop sinus disease and when this happens to your cat, you should notice the classic symptoms like nasal discharge and sneezing.
There are also side symptoms:
Sneezing that comes out short and sharply may be just a reaction to your cat’s curiosity. When your cat is exploring a new area or object, it may encounter allergen or irritants spread by tiny animals like cockroaches, mice, or critters.
If your cat sneezes, and not for a long time a second sneeze follows, this is a way your cat wants to clear its nasal passage. This can be caused by vermin. So it may be a good idea if you call an exterminator to clean up your house from the irritating small bugs.
If your cat is already 3 years old or even older, sneezing which comes frequently and accompanied by bad breath can be caused by dental issues or tooth trouble. Not only painful, but tooth trouble can lead to gum disease or abscesses which can affect your cat’s general health.
If it becomes a habitual sneezing of your cat, and when it sneezes you notice the mucus comes out from the eyes and the nostrils, this can be caused by viral or bacterial respiratory infection.
Bacterial infection can be treated by antibiotics prescribed by the vet, while viral infections treatment is aimed to control the symptoms and the virus will lay dormant in the body.
If it has been confirmed that your cat has herpes virus in its body, don’t worry. This disease can’t spread to human. Other diseases in your cats that you should be alarmed are protozoal infections, toxoplasma, ringworm, and roundworms.
Sneezing once in while without any further symptoms (or just mild symptoms) may just need monitoring from you for some days ahead. You have to make sure to keep your cat indoor and notice even the smallest change in your cat’s condition.
You should call the vet if the sneezing is continuously and frequently, blood in its nasal discharge when it’s sneezing and other symptoms aforementioned. It can be a sign of serious illness which need immediate vet’s care.
If your cat condition, after sneezing and producing nasal discharge a lot, looks severe, you also have to visit the vet as soon as possible. Sneezing can become chronic after a few days or even a few hours if there’s no adequate treatment.
If it’s a virus triggering infection in your cat’s body and lead to sneezing a lot, the virus usually run its course for a few weeks (from 1-4). During those weeks, you have to really make sure that your cat eats sufficiently.
Like us, cats are interested in foods due to the smell of it. And those who have nasal problems cannot smell it and thus lose their appetite. You need to do some tricks to make your cat eat again.
Another one is tumor or polyps. Even though those two are considered as less common cause of sneezing in cats, but it’s still important to get the confirmation from the vet as soon as possible. Those two conditions can worsen the sneezing symptoms.
The treatment should be given based on the cause of sneezing. Remember, sneezing itself is not a disease. It’s a sign of a real disease, and you should overcome the main cause to eliminate the symptoms.
In mild cases of cause, your vet may suggest you to make your cat more comfortable in your house environment. Using humidifier is a good idea which is often advised by the vet to help your cat’s condition get better.
In more severe cases, fluids, nasal decongestants, and antibiotics are commonly required. You need to treat the cat with those prescribed drugs routinely and don’t discontinue even though the cat has got better.
Make sure that the cat takes the entire antibiotics given by the vet every day. In a rare case, if the cat won’t show any improvement in medical drugs, surgery may be needed.
There’s no particular medication for feline infections caused by virus. Because once your cat has been infected by a virus, the treatment given is only aimed to control the symptoms, not eliminate the virus. Thus, your cat has a carrier virus in its body for the rest of its life.
However, in viral infection case, make sure you give your cat the care needed. Usually the vet prescribe fluids, nutraceuticals to make the body overcome the virus easily (thus the virus will lay dormant in the body), homeopathics, and appetite stimulants to help the cat eat.
If you do smoke, please do it in a room where your cat will not be affected. It’s because smoke can trigger allergy in cats and affect is respiratory system.