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Healthy Cats

Why Cats Sneeze

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Causes of Sneezing continued...

Inhaled irritants or allergens. If your cat only sneezes once in a while, something may simply be irritating the nasal passages. Look for patterns in your cat’s sneezing. Does it occur after you’ve lit the candles at the dinner table? After your cat leaves the litter box? After you’ve cleaned the house?

These are all examples of potential irritants or allergens (substances that cause allergic reactions) in cats:

  • Cigarette smoke
  • Perfume
  • Pest sprays
  • Cat litter, especially types that create dust
  • Cleaning agents
  • Candles
  • Dust
  • Pollen
  • Mold

In cats, allergies are a less common cause of sneezing than in humans. If sneezing is related to allergies, sometimes itchy skin is also present.

Other potential causes of sneezing. A variety of other factors may contribute to sneezing in cats. For example, it’s common for cats to experience sneezing within four to seven days of receiving an intranasal vaccine. This sneezing lasts for no more than several days. Cats may also sneeze to try to dislodge a blockage in their nasal passages. An infection or inflammation of a tooth root may cause drainage into the sinuses and may also cause sneezing. In very rare cases, sneezing in cats can be a sign of cancer.

Sneezing and Other Symptoms

Symptoms that may accompany sneezing in cats may be the result of a wide range of infections and other problems. These symptoms may include:

  • Eye discharge, swelling, or ulcers
  • Excessive nasal discharge, sometimes yellow or green in color (a sign of a bacterial infection)
  • Fatigue or depression
  • Fever
  • Drooling
  • Decreased appetite or weight loss
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Wheezing or coughing
  • Poor coat condition
  • Trouble breathing
  • Diarrhea

 

When to See the Vet

If your cat sneezes only once in a while, has no other symptoms, or has only mild symptoms, you may want to simply monitor him or her for a few days. Keep your cat indoors and watch for changes. But be sure to call the vet if your cat sneezes continuously or often, sneezes blood, or has other signs such as those listed above. They may be signs of an illness or condition that needs veterinary care.

Treatment depends on the cause of the sneezing. In mild cases, the vet may suggest taking steps to simply help your cat be more comfortable -- like using a humidifier. In other cases, antibiotics, nasal decongestants, or fluids may be needed. Rarely, cats that don’t respond to medical therapy may require surgery.

WebMD Veterinary Reference

Reviewed by Amy Flowers, DVM on July 27, 2014
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