Why Is My Cat Sneezing?
Get more information about the possible causes and treatments of feline breathing problems.
There are many reasons your cat or kitten sneezes, but not all are reasons to worry.
If your cat is healthy and active and sneezes on occasion, it’s likely nothing to be concerned about. However, if your cat’s sneezing is constant or is accompanied by other symptoms, it may be best to check in with your vet for an examination to identify potential causes and see if further treatment is needed.
Common Causes Of Sneezing In Cats
1. A Tickle In The Nose
Like scratching an itch, one of the most common causes of sneezing in cats is simply a tickle in the nose.
2. Foreign Bodies
If your cat has something stuck in their nose (like a blade of grass or another small object), the reflexive instinct is to try to get it out by sneezing. If the object doesn’t make its way out, there is a risk of infection.
3. Irritants Or Allergies
You may notice certain times in the day where your cat sneezes. If your cat is sneezing every so often, it may just be something irritating the nose and nasal passages. If your cat is sneezing more frequently, it may be an indication of an allergy.
Some common allergens and irritants include:
- Cigarette smoke
- Harsh chemicals
- Cat litter
4. Bacterial or Viral Infections
The most common infections that cause sneezing in cats are the feline herpes virus and feline calicivirus.1 The following bacterial or viral infections may also cause constant sneezing:
- Upper respiratory Infection (cat flu)
- Feline immunodeficiency virus
- Dental infection leading to inflammation in the sinuses
- Conjunctivitis in the eyes2
If your cat has developed an infection, sneezing may be present but is seldom the sole symptom. Keep an eye out for repeated sneezing fits accompanied by other unusual symptoms in your cat.
5. Other Causes
It’s relatively common for cats to sneeze for a few days after they receive nasal vaccines. The sneezing will generally go away on its own without further intervention. In very rare cases, sneezing may accompany feline leukemia (cancer).3
What To Do If Your Cat Is Sneezing Excessively
If your cat sneezes at certain times in the day, pay attention to what is happening in their environment during that time. Your cat may be sensitive to the chemicals you use to clean the house, after you light a strongly scented candle, or when you use hairspray.
If your cat is constantly sneezing throughout the day or is showing other symptoms in addition to sneezing, it’s best to seek the advice of a vet for treatment options. Document the frequency of sneezing any other symptoms your cat is showing and bring this information with you to the vet.
Your vet will likely use a series of tests to rule out other conditions after a thorough examination. These tests might include blood work, urine samples, x-rays, and nasal swabs.
When To Take A Sneezing Cat To The Vet
A simple sneeze is likely nothing to worry about. However, pay attention to excessive sneezing or sneezing that that accompanies other symptoms, such as:
- Eye discharge, swelling, or ulcers
- Excessive nasal discharge
- Trouble breathing (dyspnea)
- Green or yellow mucous
- Sneezing blood
- Lethargy (no energy to play)
- Decreased appetite
If your cat is showing any of these symptoms in addition to sneezing, take them to the vet for an examination.
Treatment For A Sneezing Cat
Treatment will vary based on your cat’s diagnosis and severity of sneezing.
In most cases, good home care can help keep your cat comfortable and reduce frequency of sneezing. There are several cat sneezing treatments you can do at home, including:
- Use a moist cloth to gently clean your cat’s face of any discharge
- Keep your home clean and dust free
- Use a low-dust cat litter
- Avoid using aerosols, strong smelling perfumes, and chemicals
- Moisten the air with a humidifier
- Make sure your cat has plenty of fresh water
- Warm up your cat’s food to encourage your cat to eat
Treating More Serious Issues
Depending on the results from your vet visit, medication may need to be administered as treatment. For bacterial infections, a course of antibiotics will likely be prescribed. Viral infections will likely need good home care.
In other circumstances, medications will be prescribed to treat the underlying condition at your vet’s discretion. If your cat has stopped eating or drinking, nutritional support and intravenous fluids may be indicated.
Is Your Cat Sneezing Excessively?
If you suspect your cat is suffering from something more serious than irritation in the nasal passages, take them to the vet right away so they can be treated appropriately.
Take the Feline Asthma Assessment to see if your cat could have asthma.