Why Is My Cat Sneezing A Lot?
Just like you and I, our cats can sneeze from time to time. Cats can catch colds just like humans can, as well as suffer from environmental irritants in the world around them. While one sneeze here and there is normal, constant sneezing should always raise concern. So what are the possible causes of your cat’s sneezing?
In this article we will discuss the details of sneezing in our feline friends, and help you better understand how to help your sniffling cat going forward.
Is Sneezing Normal For Cats?
We all sneeze from time to time. Our cats are not exempt from episodes of sneezing and sniffling, as things can tickle their nose just as easily as they can ours. Sneezing in cats is completely normal from time to time, but constant sneezing is not.
Constant sneezing in our feline friends should always warrant a vet visit, as the cause can range from normal allergies to infectious respiratory illnesses. If you notice your cat sneezing more than usual, it’s time to pay close attention.
7 Reasons Why Cats Sneeze
If you have a sneezing cat in your home, there are a list of potential factors behind their sudden upper respiratory symptoms. To help you better understand your feline friend, let’s discuss 7 possible causes of sneezing cats below.
1.) Contagious Respiratory Illness
So do cats get colds and other contagious respiratory illnesses? The answer is yes, and they are actually quite common among the cat population. While an indoor cat without any exposure to other felines may be safe, cats that fall into other categories are always at risk.
Infectious Respiratory disease is common in animal shelters, among stray cat populations, in kittens, as well as cats that come from rescues. If your cat has been in these environments at any point throughout their lives, they may have been exposed to some form of respiratory illness.
Some of the most common forms of respiratory illness in cats include Feline Herpesvirus, Feline Calicivirus, and Bordetella Bronchiseptica. Herpesvirus and Calicivirus are responsible for nearly 90% of all sneezing and sniffling in cats, and can lead to a slew of respiratory symptoms to follow. These conditions can cause sneezing, eye discharge, nasal discharge, coughing, lethargy, anorexia, fever, and even sores on the tongue.
2.) Chronic Respiratory Conditions
If your cat keeps sneezing, a chronic respiratory condition may be to blame. Cats can develop chronic rhinitis due to certain viral infections, which is inflammation of the nasal passages that leads to sneezing.
Chronic rhinitis is not only the result of exposure to viral respiratory infections, but damage to the cat’s immune system as well.
Cats that are exposed to Feline Herpes or Calicivirus are more susceptible to developing chronic respiratory conditions, with their sneezing coming and going over time. These viral infections can be reactivated due to other illnesses, stress, and the fact that their immune system is often compromised.
Cats with chronic respiratory conditions may experience sneezing fits that last for weeks at a time, coming and going multiple times throughout each year. This can also lead to bacterial infections as a result of their weakened immune system, making their respiratory symptoms even more severe.
3.) Environmental Irritants
Irritants in your home can be a potential cause of sneezing in your feline friend. Just as some humans are sensitive to certain fragrances, our cats can struggle with certain irritants as well. Cats can experience sneezing fits due to dust, perfumes, candles, essential oils, incense, pollen, and more. If it is present in the environment around your cat, it could be a potential irritant.
If it seems like your cat only begins to sneeze during certain seasons of the year, or if they always experience sneezing fits while you clean, you can begin to pinpoint potential irritants that cause them distress.
4.) Feline Asthma
Feline asthma is another potential culprit behind a sneezing cat. Asthma in cats is a condition that causes inflammation within the airways, thought to be brought on by environmental irritants or allergens.
Some of the potential irritants linked to asthma in cats include different forms of dust, cigarette smoke, carpet cleaners, perfumes, hair spray, mold, and essential oil diffusers.
While feline asthma can cause sneezing in cats, other respiratory symptoms are more common. Asthma in cats is often accompanied by secondary bronchitis, meaning coughing and hacking is most commonly seen.
Cats with asthma may also wheeze and struggle to catch their breath, which can cause a cat to sneeze in some cases.
If your cat is experiencing sneezing, a dry cough, hacking, wheezing, or a decrease in stamina, it’s best to speak with your vet about the potential of feline asthma in your furry friend.
5.) Nasal Foreign Bodies
While this is most common in cats that spend time outdoors, any cat can experience a nasal foreign body. This term refers to any type of foreign object in the nasal cavity, ranging from blades of grass to thread. No matter what finds its way into your cat’s nasal canal, it can lead to serious irritation and sneezing.
Cats with a nasal foreign body will often experience sudden sneezing fits, and will likely paw at their face as well. Cats will often appear visibly distressed, giving you the cue that they may have something stuck in their nose.
If their sneezing fit does not stop or you don’t see anything visible in their nose, it might be worth taking your cat to your vet.
6.) Dental Disease
You may be surprised to learn that dental disease or infections within the mouth can cause a cat to sneeze. The roots of your cat’s teeth are extremely close to their nasal passages, meaning any inflammation or deep rooted infections can invade the nasal cavity.
A cat with dental disease may also experience blood in their water bowl, foul breath, face sensitivity, swelling of the face, or difficulty eating. If you notice any of these behaviors in your feline friend, it’s best to contact your vet for further advice.
7.) Nasal Tumors
Most common in older cats, nasal tumors are a possible cause of sneezing in our feline companions. Tumors can form in a cat’s nasal passages, leading to inflammation and irritation within the nose. These tumors can feel so strange to a cat, that it causes them to experience chronic sneezing fits.
Nasal tumors in cats may also cause nasal discharge, blood tinged discharge coming from the nose, discharge when sneezing, facial swelling, facial pain, pawing at the face, and other signs of visual discomfort. If you notice any of these symptoms in your cat, it’s time to contact your vet.
When Should I Worry About My Sneezing Cat?
If your cat is suddenly sneezing, you may wonder when it is time to worry. While any new changes in your cat’s behavior should always catch your eye, sneezing is not always an immediate cause of concern.
For example, if your cat sneezes occasionally when you are doing your spring cleaning, it’s safe to assume that your cat may have a sensitivity to dust or cleaning supplies. Occasional sneezing can also be normal in a cat, as this can be a result of allergies or other environmental irritants.
However, if your cat is experiencing frequent sneezing fits, or is sneezing multiple times a day, it may be time to speak with your vet.
Sneezing in your cat should be an immediate concern if your cat is also experiencing anorexia, lethargy, fever, or any other signs of developing illness.
Treating upper respiratory complications from the start can prevent further complications, and get your cat back to their normal selves in no time.
Do I Need To Take My Sneezing Cat To The Vet?
It is never a bad idea to take your cat to the vet when they begin to sneeze or sniffle. As you can see, multiple factors can cause a cat to sneeze, all of which should be assessed by a veterinarian.
While sneezing in your cat should always catch your attention, it’s even more critical to see a vet if they are experiencing other signs of illness as well.
To help you better assist your sneezing cat, let’s list the signs of when it’s time to take your cat to the vet for sneezing.
Your sneezing cat should see the vet if:
- They are sneezing multiple times a day
- They are experiencing sneezing fits that will not resolve
- They appear lethargic or weak
- They are not eating, or have a decrease in appetite
- They are experiencing wheezing or other changes in breathing
- They are coughing
- They are displaying any signs of dental disease or pain
If your cat is experiencing any of the above behaviors, it’s always best to visit your veterinarian.
How To Help My Sneezing Cat
If your cat can’t stop sniffling and sneezing, there are a few ways to help them get through their sickness as soon as possible. To help you better assist your feline friend, let’s list the best ways to help your sneezing cat below.
- Make an appointment with your vet to rule out any serious illness or health complications. This should always be the first step in helping your sneezing cat, as other management options may fail if you are not targeting the source of their sneezing.
- If your vet prescribed any medications or supplements, it’s important to stick to the medication schedule your vet assigned.
- Try to rid your home of any potential irritants that could cause your cat to sneeze. This means unplugging any air fresheners, refraining from using perfumes, keeping your home as dust free as possible, and avoiding use of any essential oils.
- Consider switching their litter to a dust free option if you haven’t already.
- Switch to a fragrance free laundry detergent when you are cleaning their bedding or blankets.
- If they seem congested, try keeping them in a small room with a humidifier. Moisture in the air can help in relieving any nasal irritation.
Home Treatments For A Cat Sneezing A Lot
If you have gotten the okay from your veterinarian to care for your sneezing cat at home, there are a few ways to help them get past their respiratory illness with ease. While some of these treatment tools were mentioned briefly above, these tips will cater more toward the actual treatment of sneezing in cats.
- Be diligent about giving any antibiotics, supplements, or antiviral medications that your veterinarian prescribes.
- Speak with your vet about getting a prescription for a nebulizer if your cat is struggling with congestion. This can help to break up the mucus in your cat’s nasal cavity and chest.
- Be sure to fill the room your cat is in with moisture. This can mean confining them to a small room with a humidifier, or putting a humidifier in multiple rooms of your house.
- Try your best to disinfect surfaces your cat frequents, and any bedding that your cat often naps in. If this is an infectious disease, you will want to rid your home of the bacteria or virus as best as you can.
- Try your best to clear your cat’s eyes and nares of any hardened discharge, as this can make it more challenging for your cat to breathe if it accumulates.
- Make sure your cat is still eating and drinking, as congestion often causes a cat to lose their appetite. You can do this by offering your cat wet food, heating up their wet food to make it more pungent, or even adding warm water or broth to your cat’s normal diet.
Our feline friends may sneeze from time to time due to multiple reasons. Sneezing in cats is not always a cause for concern. If your cat seems to be sneezing a lot and you don’t know why, then a trip to the vet might be your only option. Be sure to review the information we discussed above so you can better help your sniffling cat going forward.
My name is Amber. I am a dedicated animal lover that turned my passion into my career. I am a Licensed Vet Tech with 10 years of experience in veterinary medicine, but I recently took my career online to help spread accurate information on animal care. With how vast the online world is, I have a strong desire to ensure that the reader always walks away with helpful pet advice. With the experience I’ve gained from my time in this field, I have been able to travel the world, offering my services to as many animal rescues as I can find. If I am not at my laptop, or back home visiting family, you can find me somewhere in the world, cuddling every furry friend that I can find! Read more about us here.