From allergies to an upper respiratory infection, there are many reasons for feline sneezing. In fact, some cat breeds are even sneeze-prone by nature. Learn how to tell whether those ah-choos are nothing to worry about or whether they may signal a problem with your cat's health.
Various Types of Feline Sneezing
Cats can sneeze for many reasons and often a few sneezes here and there are nothing to worry about. Sneezing can be a sign of something more serious however so it's important for cat owners to know what sneezing can mean and when to go to the vet.
One of the simplest reasons that cats sneeze is that they get dust and dander up their noses, just like humans. This is part of having a healthy respiratory system.
- Small hairs in the nasal passages filter potential harmful substances and then remove them by creating a sneeze.
- Sometimes feline sneezing may occur in rapid succession, or there may be only one.
- Cats may also sneeze in reaction to sudden movement or feeling excited as their nasal passages have a physical response.
- While your cat may sneeze every day, this type of sneeze is normal and usually not excessive. If you notice no other symptoms or patterns associated with the sneezing, consider it healthy sneezing.
Cats can get allergies just like people do. If you are having allergy problems and your cat seems to be sneezing more than usual, it could very well be allergies. For example, you may also notice your cat scratching itself more often and having irritated skin if allergies is the cause for the sneezing. Common allergies include reactions to:
- Chemical cleaners
- Cigarette smoke
- Chemicals in new carpet
- Cat litter
- Scented items like perfume and candles
If you can find out what is causing the allergic reaction and eliminate it from your environment, you may find that your pet has fewer sneezing episodes. Cats with allergies will display patterns of behavior associated with their sneezing. For example they may sneeze each time they use the litter box or only when they go outside. If your cat's sneezing in reaction to allergens doesn't decrease after you remove the suspected irritant from your house, consult with a veterinarian about medication and other methods to make him more comfortable.
Breed of Cat
Some breeds simply sneeze more than others due to their unique anatomy.
- The Persian cat, for example, may have more trouble with sneezing than other breeds.
- Due to the shape of the nose and the smaller nasal passages on a Persian, the passages don't clean themselves out very well, and this can lead to more sneezing than in other breeds.
- Generally this type of sneezing is not accompanied by other symptoms and can improve with grooming and in some cases, a humidifier.
- Speak to your breeder or your veterinarian about how you can change your daily and weekly grooming routines with your cat to help improve their breathing and reduce sneezing.
Upper Respiratory Infection
Another reason for feline sneezing is an upper respiratory infection. Respiratory infections cause sneezing as the cat's nasal passages become irritated and full of mucus. Look for some of the following symptoms along with the sneezing:
- Watery eyes
- Swollen glands in throat
- Swollen eyes
- Excessive sneezing and sneezing fits
- Poor appetite
- Swallowing excessively
- Nasal discharge which can have a greenish color or be white, yellowish or clear
Respiratory infections can be very dangerous. A respiratory infection can be a sign of such serious conditions as:
- Feline herpes virus is a disease that affects a cat's eyes and respiratory system.
- Feline calicivirus which is a form of "cat flu."
- Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) a fatal condition also known as feline AIDS.
- Feline leukemia or FeLV, a virus that is the second leading cause of death in cats.
While sneezing may not be one of the initial symptoms of these serious illnesses, it can be brought on by a cat's weakened immune system that allows a respiratory infection to thrive as a secondary condition. It is important to have your pet checked by your vet as soon as possible if you see him exhibit one or more of these symptoms. The vet can prescribe medication as needed. If you notice any of these symptoms and the cat is a kitten, it's even more important to get to your veterinarian immediately as this can be a sign your kitten has a serious condition.
Sometimes your cat sneezes because she has gotten something up her nose like a blade of grass or a foxtail.
- The sneezing will be a result of the cat's body trying to force the object out.
- There is not much you can do about but let nature take its course.
- If the problem does persist for more than a day, you may need to consult your vet for additional help to clear the cat's nasal passage.
- If your cat does this often and is an outdoor cat, you may want to consider keeping him inside as inhaling foreign objects happens more commonly outside.
Feline Dental Problems
Sometimes feline sneezing is caused by problems with a cat's teeth.
- Abscessed teeth and badly decayed teeth can cause excessive sneezing in your cat.
- Feline infectious peritonitis can also lead to a cat sneezing mildly to severely if the infection progresses without treatment.
- This type of sneezing is due to drainage moving into a cat's sinuses as a result of the infection in the teeth and gums.
- This kind of sneezing is often accompanied by bad breath, constant drooling and repeated sneezing fits as well as poor appetite.
Causes of Sneezing Up Blood
Sometimes your cat may sneeze blood; if this is the case with your cat, you should have it checked as quickly as possible. While it is often little more than a broken blood vessel, sneezing blood can be a sign of either a fungal infection, nasal tumors or cancer and should be checked out to make sure your cat has a clean bill of health.
Seek Veterinary Assistance if Needed
While there is usually no reason to worry about sneezing, if it is excessive or if there are any signs that concern you, take your pet to the vet for a full check up.
- Keeping a record of how often your pet sneezes can also help your vet to get a good idea of what might be wrong.
- Keep track also of other symptoms that you notice in concert with the sneezing, such as discharges from the eyes, drooling, lack of appetite, diarrhea or anything else that's unusual.
- If the veterinarian finds that your cat is ill, he will prescribe the appropriate antibiotics and treatment. If it turns out to be allergies, you may have to consider using different cleaning supplies or otherwise removing the cause of the problem.
A Word of Caution About Cat Sneezing
If your cat does have an infection of some kind, you will want to wait until she is completely better before going ahead with other treatments like spaying or shots. Her weakened immune system will be unable to protect her should a problem arise or bacteria be introduced.