Sneezing is the body’s natural way of ridding itself of irritants. A cat sneezing is normal, however, when it becomes excessive or chronic owners should be concerned. In many cases, excessive sneezing has to do with irritants in the air such as perfume, hairspray, or candles. Allergies are another main cause of excessive sneezing in cats. But, there are cases where sneezing is actually the symptom of something much worse. It is important for owners to pay attention to see if their cat is experiencing any other symptoms, such as discharge or a change in appetite.
Is Sneezing Normal for Cats?
Yes, of course, it’s natural for cats to sneeze. Much like us humans, cats can have irritants or allergens infiltrate their nose and mouth and cause them to sneeze. If you hear your cat sneeze once or twice, there is probably nothing wrong.
Occasional sneezes are safe, but if your cat is sneezing frequently there might be another cause. A wide range of different viral, fungal, and bacterial infections can cause sneezing.
If your cat will not stop sneezing, it is best to see a vet for a diagnosis. Many times, a vet will take a swab test of your cat’s nose, ears, and mouth to determine if there is an infection.
When Is Sneezing Not Normal?
This depends on your cat. There may be a day where your cat sneezes more than normal due to a perfume or air freshener in the air. Owners need to be diligent and see if the excessive sneezing continues for longer than a day.
Removing possible irritants from the home may help. Try spraying your perfume on in the car, or try not lighting candles for a few days. That may solve the issue. However, if your cat is excessively sneezing and it does not stop after a day or two, there may be a deeper issue at play.
Some irritants that may cause allergic reactions or sneezing are cigarette smoke, cat litter, cleaning sprays and powders, perfume, pollen, dust, candles, and mold.
Symptoms of Abnormal Sneezing in Cats
There are several symptoms that can accompany excessive sneezing in cats. These symptoms can point to various different infections that your cat may have. Eye discharge and nasal discharge that is yellow or green in color may be a sign of an infection.
Other symptoms can include fatigue, excessive drooling, ulcers, swelling, coughing, wheezing, labored breathing, diarrhea, failing coat and skin health, loss of appetite, swollen third eyelid, and depression.
Causes of Excessive Sneezing
There can be several causes for this type of reaction. They can range from allergies to infections. If you believe your cat is sneezing excessively, please see a vet immediately.
Sneezing can be a symptom of viral, bacterial, or fungal infection. The most common viral infections that cause cats to sneeze are Feline herpes and Feline calicivirus.
If there is a pattern to how your cat’s sneezes, irritants may be the issue. For example, if your cat seems to sneeze heavily in the morning, it could be a perfume you use when you get ready for work.
Cigarette smoke, perfume and cologne, aerosol sprays, pollen, mold, dust, cat litters that are dusty, and powders can all cause your cat to sneeze excessively.
Try removing irritants from the environment first, as this is often the cause of the sneezing. If you smoke inside try doing so outdoors. You can also try spraying your perfume or cologne on in the car Trying organic or different air fresheners can be another alternative.
If you remove the irritants and your cat still sneezes frequently, it may be something more serious.
Allergies aren’t as common in adult cats as kittens, but they may still be an issue. Some allergies can be due to pollen or mold, but there are circumstances when food or toys cause your cat to have an allergic reaction as well.
If you just changed foods or introduced a new toy when the sneezing began, try to switch back to the old diet or remove the toy. You can also take your cat to the vet to get tested for allergies.
Symptoms of allergies include sneezing, wheezing, itchiness to the face, coughing, watery or runny eyes, vomiting, diarrhea, itchy skin, and loud snoring caused by an inflamed windpipe.
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Cats can contract herpes from exposure to other cats that are infected. Much like in humans, flare-ups of herpes can be caused by stress. When there is a flare-up, it is easier to spread herpes.
Luckily, feline herpes is not contagious to humans. Coughing, wheezing, sneezing, and nasal discharge are all common symptoms of feline herpes.
This virus is one main cause of upper respiratory infections and oral disease in cats. It is highly contagious. The signs of upper respiratory infections like feline calicivirus include sneezing, congestion, conjunctivitis, and discharge from the nose and/or eyes. In severe cases, this virus can lead to pneumonia.
Cats with Chlamydia will show signs of an upper respiratory infection. This includes sneezing, congestion, discharge from the eyes and nose, and wheezing.
Typically, this type of upper respiratory infection will start in the throat and nose, then it will spread to the lungs if untreated. Feline Chlamydia is very contagious to other cats, but it’s very rare for humans to get it from their pet.
Mycoplasma infection in cats is caused by bacteria that functions as a parasite in the blood. This can lead to anemia. Many healthy cats will show little to no symptoms, but kittens and elderly cats are more likely to show severe symptoms.
Cats with immune disorders are also in danger of displaying severe symptoms. Mycoplasma can cause respiratory symptoms much like bronchitis and pneumonia. Excessive sneezing can be a sign of Mycoplasma infection.
Feline Infectious Peritonitis
Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) is a viral disease caused by strains of a virus named the feline coronavirus. It is primarily shared through feces.
Early signs of feline coronavirus can come in the form of mild upper respiratory disease, including sneezing, nasal discharge, eye discharge or watery running eyes, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Bordetella is an extremely contagious bacterial disease of cats. It leads to upper respiratory tract issues and is more prominent in kittens. This disease is largely spread in kennels and pet shelters.
Cats with pre-existing respiratory issues are more susceptible to Bordetella than a healthy cat. Sneezing, fever, lethargy, nasal discharge, wheezing, difficulty breathing, and loss of appetite or all symptoms of Bordetella.
When Should You Go to the Vet?
If your cat is only sneezing randomly, then you should be safe. There can be allergens or irritants in the environment making your pet sneeze. Of course, the best way to test this theory is to remove these irritants from the environment for a few weeks to see if it makes a difference. This can include candles, perfume, air fresheners, and other aerosol products. If you have an outdoor cat, keep him or her indoors for a few days and see if the sneezing abates.
If removing irritants doesn’t work, or your cat is sneezing excessively, please reach out to a vet immediately. Also, if there is blood in the mucus, the sneezing is coupled with other respiratory issues such as coughing, wheezing, or discharge you should take your cat to the vet. These are all signs of a more serious medical ailment.
Your vet’s options for treatment are boundless. It could be something as simple as adding a dehumidifier to your premises. In other scenarios, your vet may write a script for antibiotics, nasal decongestants, or steroids. In extreme cases, your cat may need surgery.
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If your cat or cats are sneezing every so often it’s normal, remember it’s the body’s way of getting rid of irritants. Getting rid of allergens or irritants is normal and healthy for your cat. When it becomes excessive or follows a pattern that owners should show some concern. It could be something as simple as the perfume you are wearing, but it could also be something much worse.
If you have an outdoor cat, keep them inside for a few days to see if an outdoor allergy can be the cause. It really is best to exhaust all of these options before jumping to conclusions. Or, owners can just take their cat to see the vet to be sure.
Remember, cats are masters a hiding pain. In fact, it is a sign of weakness in the animal kingdom to show any type of pain. Your cat can be suffering from pain due to a medical ailment, and those sneezes are the only sign that owners have. Don’t jump to conclusions though. Only excessive sneezing cats should raise alarm. More info here.