Have you heard your cat sneeze and yet you have no idea whether it should alarm you or not? Well, just like you, it is normal for a cat to sneeze once in a while. But, the story is different if the cat sneezing happens a lot and in a row for several days. To answer your question ‘why is my cat sneezing’, let’s decipher the possible cause or causes and if it warrants a visit to the vet.
Why Is My Cat Sneezing?
Sneezing is your cat’s physiological response to irritation to its nasal cavity. The irritation could come from different factors like pollen and cigarette smoke.
So, what’s the reason for a sneezing cat? It could fall in any of these three (3) categories namely: environmental, anatomical, and infectious causes.
Being able to determine if your cat must be seen by a vet due to sneezing can help keep your feline pet happy and healthy. This is why you must know how to interpret the signs of why your cat is sneezing.
1. Environmental Causes of Cat Sneezing
Even if your cat is an indoor fellow, it does not mean that it is immune from allergens like pollen and other plant materials. Without you knowing it, you can bring inside your home these allergens that lead to seasonal cat sneezing. Seasonal cat allergy is prevalent during spring and summertime.
Apart from plants, other triggering agents can irritate your feline pet’s nasal passage. But how do you know if the sneezing is due to an allergen?’
If your cat keeps sneezing but seems fine, most likely, the sneezing is triggered by an allergen. What you can do is check for a pattern. For instance, did your feline pet sneeze after you sprayed yourself with your favorite perfume? Have you just cleaned your home using a spray cleaning agent? Perhaps you are a cigarette smoker?
Any of those potential irritants along with molds and dust can lead to a sneezing cat.
What about the food? You’d be surprised but yes, food can result in an allergic reaction to some cats. If you recently change the protein source of your cat, say from fish to chicken and you suddenly hear a series of achoo. Then, most likely it is a food allergy.
Environmental causes as to cat sneezing also present other symptoms like skin irritations and hair loss. The good news is that a sneezing cat does not always warrant a visit to the vet if the cause is an environmental irritant.
Once you have identified the irritant, refrain your cat’s exposure to it and in a few days, your pet should be fine.
Your vet may also prescribe a special diet and some meds to lessen its adverse reactions to allergens.
If the sneezing keeps on coming, talk to the vet, your feline pet could be suffering from feline asthma.
2. Anatomical Causes of Cat Sneezing
Those cat breeds that have flatter faces or smushed-face appearance look adorable and cuddly but did you know that they are prone to sneezing? Examples are the British Shorthair and Persian cats.
These flat-faced cats are brachycephalic breeds. They all have a short skull, narrow nostrils, and small nasal passages. These unique anatomical characteristics cause these cats to have respiratory issues that lead to sneezing and breathing difficulty.
In case this is the reason why your cat sneezes, you may talk to a vet to discuss surgery to widen its nostrils. But, then, surgery is only done if your cat constantly suffers from respiratory disease and if sneezing is accompanied by nasal discharge.
3. Infectious Causes of Cat Sneezing
A sneezing cat could also mean health problems. Similar to common colds in humans, your feline pet can go through bouts of upper respiratory infections.
These infections are highly contagious and are more prevalent among kittens and those that are in animal shelters. If you are not sure how your feline pet got the upper respiratory infection, did you recently take your cat to a boarding pet hotel? Or, maybe your cat mingled with other pets in the park. Because these infections can spread easily from cat to cat.
Apart from sneezing, the other symptoms that you could see in case your pets have an upper respiratory infection are coughing, gagging, loss of appetite, drooling, and fever.
Let us now talk more deeply about the causes of upper respiratory infections so we can find an answer to your current concern as to why my cat is sneezing:
Feline Herpesvirus 1 or Rhinotracheitis Virus
Your cat can get infected if it got exposed to an infected cat with the feline herpesvirus. The most common way of transmission is through contact with discharge from eyes, mouth, and nose.
Sharing of litter boxes, sharing of food and water bowls as well as mutual grooming are surefire elements for feline herpes virus transmission. A sneezing cat can also transmit the feline herpesvirus.
If you’ve got an infected momma cat, she can also pass on the virus to her hapless kittens. Since the virus is very contagious, it is commonly present in shelters and households with multiple cats.
Some cats are asymptomatic and if your cat belongs to that category, you may only learn that it is a carrier of the feline herpes virus if the series of achoo gets more constant. What’s the cause? Blame it on the stress. Yep, your cat gets stressed from moving to a new home, a change in its daily routine, and even car trips.
Why? Because stress compromises your cat’s immune system. The herpes virus that has been dormant suddenly leaps, making your cat sick and sneeze more.
A common respiratory ailment in cats that targets the nasal passages, lungs, mouth, intestines, and musculoskeletal system of an infected cat.
Apart from sneezing, the other symptoms your cat may show are nasal and eye discharge.
If your feline is diagnosed, you may ask ‘how did my cat catch this viral infection?’ Coming in contact with an infected cat is one way it is transmitted. Also, the virus stays in the air since disinfectants are not effective in killing this virus. This means that even if you did not socialize your cat with other pets, it might catch it from the environment.
No, this is not a sexually transmitted disease in cats, rather this is a respiratory disease that is passed on from an infected cat to a healthy one. An infected sneezing cat is a sure way of transmission.
This is more common among kittens. Aside from achoo, the other signs are runny nose and fever.
A bacterial infection that can be cured with the use of antibiotics. Your cat can get it through exposure to an infected animal in kennels and grooming salons. In case you have multiple pets at home (both cats and dogs), the bacteria can spread from one pet to the other.
If your cat sneezes constantly and has been diagnosed with any of the above upper respiratory issues, the treatment options may include any of the following: antiviral meds or antibiotics, steroids, eye or nose drops, and subcutaneous fluids (for severe cases).
Other Causes of Cat Sneezing
If any of the above still does not answer your query, there are more possible reasons why you hear those achoo from your little furry friend.
- Have you checked your pet’s teeth lately? Those small teeth are pretty delicate. If a tooth gets infected and does not receive immediate treatment, the bacterial infection from its tooth can pass on to the nose and throat. So, a sneezing cat may be a signal that something’s not right in its dental system.
- What about the vaccine? Did your pet receive a vaccine shot a few days ago? Yes, vaccines are necessary for your pet’s health but these could cause some sneezing after a few days of inoculation of FVRCP (feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, and panleukopenia) and FHV (feline herpesvirus). If your cat continues to sneeze after seven (7) days, better take it back to the Vet for a checkup.
- Check your pet and answer – is my cat sneezing and has watery eyes? If your answer is yes, your pet could have sinus and nasal issues. Same as you, your cat could be infected with rhinitis and sinusitis.
Rhinitis causes inflammation in the mucous membranes of the nose, it is similar to that stuffy nose that you feel each time you are down with the common colds. Sinusitis, on the other hand, causes inflammation in the lining of your pet’s sinuses.
These two (2) are the complications of the upper respiratory infections that we have talked about earlier.
If My Cat Is Sneezing, What Can I Do?
In most cases, cat sneezing treatments can be done at home to make it feel comfier and lessen the frequency of sneezing. These include:
- Use a moist cloth to remove any discharge from its face.
- Spring clean your home to remove allergens. Avoid using strong cleaning agents.
- Shift to a low-dust cat litter to prevent allergic reactions.
- Turn on the humidifier to increase the moisture level.
- Apply saline nose drops to relieve your pet’s nose from irritation that makes it to sneeze.
When Should I Bring My Sneezing Cat to the Vet?
If your feline pet is fully immunized and exhibits a mild case of sneezing that is accompanied by a runny nose and watery eyes, it’s no big deal. For as long as your cat has no colored eye discharge, no colored nose boogers, it is eating and drinking, as usual, your sneezing cat is normal and no treatment is necessary.
On the other hand, if your feline pet has a compromised immune system and you notice any of the symptoms below, consider taking it to the vet:
- Sneezing that comes with clear eye discharge that turns to yellow or green boogers after a few days
- Sneezing blood
- Loss of appetite
- Coughing, lethargic behavior, and fever
- Does not socialize
- Trouble breathing
- Sneezing with yellow or green nose boogers
Is There a Way to Prevent Cat Sneezing?
The good news is that some of the issues that cause sneezing are preventable if your feline pet is up to date with its vaccination schedule. Vaccines come in two, the core and the non-core vaccines.
The core vaccines are rabies, FPV vaccine, FHV-1 Vaccine, and FCV Vaccine. These four vaccines are vital to the health of your cat and will greatly reduce the chance of getting infected with diseases that cause cat sneezing.
Then, depending on your pet’s lifestyle, the vet might also recommend the non-core vaccines for the prevention of feline leukemia virus, Chylamydophila felis, feline immunodeficiency virus, and Bordetella virus.
To Sum Up…
My cat is sneezing – could something be wrong with it? It depends. As you’ve seen, a sneezing cat means something is irritating its nose. Not all the time does it mean it is a life-threatening scenario. It could be a simple irritant or allergens like dust mites and pollens. Sneezing that does not come with colored discharge, appetite and behavioral changes do not warrant a vet check-up.
However, something is wrong with your feline pet if you see other changes in its body and demeanor. If that’s the case, do not wait for days before you let the Vet examine your pet to prevent problems like dehydration.
The best you can do is to become aware of the irritants that make your pet suffer from allergies. Plus, of course, tracking your feline pet’s vaccination schedule, you keep it away from constant achoo!