I say “bless you” when someone sneezes. Every time, I can’t help myself. But lately it’s been “bless you…wait, why is my cat sneezing?” Seriously though, it is one of the cutest things in the world. If you’ve got 3 minutes to spare for a cuteness overload, check out this hilarious compilation of sneezy cats:
The occasional sneeze is nothing to worry about, but if your cat is sneezing constantly or other symptoms have cropped up, it could be a sign of something more serious.
Like coughing, sneezing is not necessarily a symptom of feline asthma, but it could be…or it could be something else. Because cats aren’t difficult enough already. It’s ridiculously cute and probably nothing to worry about, but I do admit to being the overprotective mother type, so naturally I want to get to the bottom of this.
What is a Sneeze?
In short, a sneeze is a facial explosion usually caused by an irritant in the nasal passages. It’s the body’s natural way of expelling the mucous containing these foreign, irritating particles. In these cases it’s normal and good – the body is just doing what it does to keep things clean and functioning properly.
Apart from irritants entering the nasal passages, sneezes can also be caused by internal difficulties such as infections, but the response is the same. The nerve endings in the nose recognise something that shouldn’t be there and send their messages to the brain, which in turn sends messages to all the parts of the body required to facilitate a sneeze.
Common Cat Sneezing Causes
A cat sneeze is no different to a human sneeze, except that the cuteness factor is multiplied by about 15,000. If your cat is sneezing a lot it could be a sign of infection so a trip to the vet is in order. Your vet may take a swab from kitty’s nose, mouth, throat or eyes and send it to the lab for testing. Common causes of sneezing in cats include:
- Respiratory infections – yep, cats get colds too. Respiratory infections can be caused by viruses such as herpes, calicivirus, chlamydia infections and bacterial infections such as mycoplasma.
- Dental disease – particularly if it involves root infections. Tooth infections sometimes allow bacteria to enter the sinus, which causes inflammation that the body tries to sneeze out.
- Allergies – asthma cats already have dodgy airways, so allergies to pollens are more common with these special beasts. Even non-asthmatic cats can be irritated by seasonal pollens and the like.
- Foreign bodies – bits of grass and general dust, for example, can find their way into the nasal passage. Most of the time these are sneezed out, but if something gets stuck it could lead to a nasal infection.
- Chemical irritants – perfumes, smoke and heavily scented anything can lead to inflammation of the nasal passages, which is then sneezed out.
- Intranasal vaccines – while these are great for preventing respiratory infections, sometimes they can cause sneezing for a few days after. Usually it just runs its course and no treatment is required.
Other Symptoms to Watch Out For
Kitty sneezing on its own could be a symptom of literally dozens of difficulties. Some of these conditions are cause for concern, particularly if you notice any of the of the following symptoms as well:
- Nasal discharge – usually points to an infection, particularly if the discharge is yellow or green.
- Blood in the sneeze
- Eye discharge or swelling
- Fatigue, lethargy or depression
- Loss of appetite
- Trouble breathing
- Coughing or wheezing
When to See Your Vet
If your cat sneezes occasionally, there’s probably nothing you need to do except keep the camera handy and try your best to get a video of the cutest thing in world. However, if the kitty sneezing happens frequently and is accompanied by blood or any of the symptoms above you need to get that checked out.
Even if it’s just sneezing with no other symptoms it’s a good idea to keep your cat indoors for a few days and monitor the situation to see if anything else develops. Your vet will need to know how long the sneezing has been going on and will be able to recommend a treatment based on the information you provide as well as the results of their examination.
What You Can do to Help Your Sneezy Kitty
There are heaps of things you can do to reduce the risk of sinus and nasal infections in your kitty. Here are some simple steps you can take to support your cat’s immune system and reduce environmental hazards:
- Don’t smoke around your cat – especially the delicate little asthma cat types.
- Eliminate synthetic sprays such as room sprays, those automatic plug in toxin spreading fragrance things (can you tell I’m not a fan?), carpet deodorisers and artificially scented candles.
- Feed a balanced diet – ideally free of grains, preservatives, artificial colours and flavours.
- Keep your kitty stress free – products such as Rescue Remedy or Feliway can be used to keep your cat chill during stressful events such as as house full of guests or a visit to the vet.
- Consider an air purifier – especially if your home is carpeted. You can read more about choosing the right air purifier here.
Some kitty sneezes are harmless and just plain fun to watch, but chronic sneezing could be a sign of something more serious such as an infection. Knowing what to watch out for and when to visit the vet will make for a happy, healthy and sneeze free kitty.
Do you have a sneezy kitty…or a question? Head to the comments and let me know…