Like humans, cats don’t sneeze continuously without a reason. Most of the time it isn’t anything to worry about but if it persists, there might be an underlying health condition. Contact your veterinarian if symptoms are prolonged or worsening. For now, we are here to give you some online vet help.
There are five major reasons why your cat might be sneezing.
Online Vet Help Reason #1 – Infection
Upper respiratory infections can be behind your cat’s sneezing. Known also as ‘feline colds’, they are caused by viruses and are transmitted from other infected cats. They are especially common among young cats that are in animal shelters which haven’t been fully vaccinated yet. Viral respiratory infections cannot be treated directly with antibiotics, unless it’s from a secondary bacterial infection.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals lists two common viral infections that can induce cat sneezing: Feline herpes virus and feline calicivirus. 90% of adult cats have been exposed to these viruses at some point in their life and can often carry the virus with them for life. You may see symptoms resolved and reappear during stressful parts of your cat’s life (adoption, moving, new pets or visiting company) Bacterial infections include Bordetella, Mycoplasma and Chlamydophila – all of which can also cause an eye infection (conjunctivitis). Fatal diseases like feline leukemia are also known to be linked to cat sneezing because it lowers their ability to fight off other diseases. Rarely, fungal infections can even be a reason for upper respiratory signs. Severe dental disease can also be the cause of the bacterial infections in the sinus cavity.
Online Vet Help Reason #2 – Allergies
Contrary to popular thought, cats don’t always sneeze when exposed to allergens. Allergies in cats are more likely to cause skin reactions or itchy watery eyes. Although less likely, respiratory troubles will not be entirely ruled out.
According to Cat Channel, cat sneezing can be caused by environmental allergens like pollen that are carried in the air and inhaled. You can identify whether or not seasonal or environmental factors are responsible for your cat’s sneezing by changing your routine or even correlating signs with pollen counts. If feasible, pay close attention different locations where your cat frequents and watch how h/she reacts. You may notice a difference in their sneezing patterns.
Online Vet Help Reason #3 – Irritants
Just like humans, cats sneeze if they inhale something that irritates their lungs, throat or nose. Contaminants in the air like cigarette smoke, perfume, pest sprays, cat litter, cleaning agents, candles, dust, pollen or mold can cause cat sneezing. It’s usually easy to identify when this occurs because it happens almost immediately. Many of these irritants can also be the starting cause of frustrating diseases like feline asthma so working to identify the irritant early in the process may keep you cat from having to deal with that!
Online Vet Help Reason #4 – Foreign Bodies
Cats much like dogs live with their nose to the ground. This behavior put them at risk for sniffing something into their nose! Grass awn (foxtails) and small goat heads are objects that can get stuck in the nasal passage of your kitty and cause profound sneezing fits! Often, kitties will be able to clear it on their own but sometimes it requires a veterinarian going in and finding it!
Online Vet Help Reason #5 – Masses
Sneezing fits that seem to be progressively worse or especially accompanied by nasal discharge on one side should be taken very seriously. Much like dogs & cats can develop tumors in the nose/sinus – both malignant and benign. Sometimes, this can look just like a cold and often will need advanced imaging of the nose (CT or MRI) to be able to tell the difference.