A single kitty sneeze can be cute, but when your cat is constantly sneezing, there’s often cause for concern. If your cat has a runny nose along with the sneezes, it might be time to visit the vet.
Let’s take a closer look at reasons why cats sneeze, plus some easy solutions to make your pet more comfortable.
Occasional reflexive sneezes caused by irritants
Just as we humans sneeze and sniffle a bit when we feel a tickle in our noses, cats do the same! If your cat sneezes just occasionally, it’s probably not a cause for concern.
Irritants like dust, pollen, perfume, cleaning chemicals, and smoke can cause a tickle in your cat’s respiratory tract. Sneezing is the body’s way of expelling irritants.
The best way to handle this cause of cat sneezing therefore is to identify the source of the irritant and try to minimize it or get rid of it altogether.
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Some cat vaccines are administered intranasally, meaning that drops are administered directly into the nasal cavity.
It’s quite normal for a cat to sneeze for a few days after this type of vaccination. If it lasts longer or you suspect that there might be something else going on, it’s a good idea to call your vet and ask for advice.
Frequent sneezing caused by viral infections
It’s true: Cats can catch a cold, and they are susceptible to other respiratory infections, too. If you notice that your cat is sneezing and has a runny nose, it’s possible that she might have a cold. Pay close attention to your cat’s condition over the next few days. Cat colds often show signs of clearing up by day four or five, and symptoms usually disappear by day ten.
A simple cold doesn’t usually call for a vet visit, but do watch for signs that your cat is feeling worse instead of getting better.
If you notice other symptoms including a cough and/or tears or gooey discharge coming from kitty’s eyes, it’s definitely time for a trip to the vet.
Frequent sneezing caused by a foreign body
Cats love to satisfy their curiosity by prowling about and sniffing everything they encounter. Unfortunately, small seeds, little blades of grass, and other foreign bodies sometimes enter the nasal cavity. Sometimes these are dislodged by a good hard sneeze, but they can sometimes work their way even further in, leading to an infection that won’t clear up without help from your veterinarian.
If your cat is incessantly sneezing and has a runny nose, either with or without a bit of blood mixed in, have him or her seen right away.
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Sinus infection caused by dental disease
A cat’s anatomy places the sinuses in close proximity to teeth, so bacteria doesn’t have to travel far to make its way from an infected tooth to the nasal sinus.
This cause of a cat’s sneezing and runny nose is extremely painful and you might notice that your cat has trouble eating. Other symptoms might include lethargy and fever. The problem won’t go away by itself, and will worsen quickly if your cat isn’t treated by a veterinarian, so make sure to make an appointment straight away if you think it’s dental related.
Caring for a cat with the sniffles
Whatever the cause of your cat’s runny nose and sneezing, there are a few things you can do to help them stay comfortable before and after their trip to the vet:
- If your cat has nasal discharge or runny eyes, you can prevent excess build-up by gently bathing the area with a clean cloth that has been soaked in warm water. Toss the cloth into the laundry right after treating your cat and be sure to wash your hands with soap and water in case your pet has an upper respiratory infection that can be transmitted to other cats
- Since cats can’t blow their noses, steam treatments can be helpful. If your cat is comfortable with being placed in a carrier, you can line the carrier with a soft blanket or towel, put your cat inside, and close the door. Place a bowl of steaming hot water outside the door and cover the carrier and the bowl with a large towel or blanket. The steam will make it a bit easier for your cat to breathe
- If your cat isn’t happy about being placed in a cat carrier, avoid stressing him/her out. Bring them into the bathroom with you while you take a shower so the steam will soothe their sinus irritation a bit. Either way, it may be helpful to repeat the steam treatments two or three times per day
What not to do when your cat is sick
While your veterinarian will do everything possible to see your cat quickly, you might have to wait a day or two for an appointment. We know you love your cat and want them to get better, but don’t give them any human medications. Many medications are toxic to cats and will only make matters worse.
Be sure to see the vet if you think your cat has something other than a simple cold. Since sneezing and runny noses are symptoms of serious cat illnesses including chlamydia, feline leukaemia, feline infectious peritonitis, and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), it’s very important to have your vet find and address the root cause as soon as possible.
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