Cats are a lot like us. They enjoy their space, their naps, and their little snacks. They snore, they hiccup, and they sneeze. A few tiny sneezes every here and there is completely normal. Your cat sneezes to clear their nose, just like you sneeze to clear your nose. If you have an indoor outdoor cat or if you keep the windows open, pollen can irritate your cat’s sinuses just as much as it can irritate yours.
Most of the time, cat sneezes aren’t something to be worried about. If you’re noticing abnormal behavior, frequent sneezing fits, or snot coming from your cat’s nose, however, these are signs that you should start taking your cat’s sneezes seriously.
What To Do When Your Cat Sneezes Frequently
Some cats sneeze chronically. This can be the result of sinus injury or deformity. Your vet may need to clear your cat’s sinuses periodically to free mucus from the cat’s airway.
If your cat has a few sneezing fits in one day and it doesn’t happen again the next day, you can easily chalk it up to an off day. Your cat might have found some dust in a corner or under a bed that caused temporary irritation to their sinuses. This should resolve itself before the next day. If it does, there’s usually nothing to worry about.
If your cat has been consistently sneezing for more than a day, it could possibly be the result of an illness or allergy that needs to be addressed.
Checking Your Cat for Symptoms
If sneezing is your cat’s only symptom, you shouldn’t brush it off. You still need to call your vet if you cannot clearly identify why your cat is sneezing. Keeping an eye out for other symptoms can help you to determine the severity of the situation. Your vet will need to know if your cat is showing symptoms that may be critically detrimental to their health.
Loss of appetite and weight loss indicate that your cat is too sick to eat. As a result, they could be malnourished or dehydrated. A significant amount of nasal discharge, especially if it's an unusual color and is increasing in severity,
You also need to keep track of how long your cat has been experiencing sneezing fits. Has it been three days now? Do the symptoms come and go? Has this ever happened before? Did your cat get outside for the first time or was she exposed to something new? These are things you need to tell your vet.
Identifying Potential Causes for Sneezing
Your vet needs to be the one to formally identify the cause of your cat’s frequent sneezing, but if you’re panicked in the middle of the night, it might give you some clarity and perspective to understand what you may be dealing with.
Cats are prone to upper respiratory infections, the most common of which is typically referred to as the “cat flu”. It affects cats similarly to the way a severe common cold or flu might affect a person. Lethargy, loss of appetite, runny nose, watery eyes, and frequent sneezing may indicate that your cat has developed a viral infection.
Many viral infections occur in conjunction with bacterial infections. If the discharge running from your cat’s nose or eyes is any color other than clear or slightly milky, it’s likely that a bacterial infection is also present.
Infections are typically treated with antibiotics. Your veterinarian should assess your cat and determine what secondary bacterial infection exists and prescribe the appropriate antibiotic for the type of infection.
In some cases, infections are neither viral nor bacterial. Fungal infections can have the same impact. Fungus isn’t treated with antibiotics. It requires special antifungal medications to stop the fungus from proliferating in your cat’s sinuses. Your vet can use a special camera to look inside of your cat’s nose for evidence of fungal growth.
Abscessed, broken, missing, or infected teeth in the upper jaw can allow food to pass from your cat’s mouth into his sinuses. They can also cause infection that travels upward into the sinuses. Your cat’s mouth, nose, and whole head may hurt as a result.
Your vet will remove a tooth if necessary, clean out all passageways, and properly close the wound to prevent the situation from recurring. If the tooth was infected, your cat will likely need antibiotics to fully resolve the source of the problem.
Something is Stuck In Your Cat’s Nose
Cats like to chew up grass, plants, and string, among a wealth of other things. If a piece were to become lodged up your cat’s nose, they’ll sneeze a lot in an effort to get it out. Their nostrils are very small, which makes it difficult for them to dislodge or expel foreign material.
If your cat has something stuck in their nose, you need to bring them to the vet. The vet has special tools that can be used to look inside of the nose and remove anything that may be stuck. Your cat may have some residual irritation, but once the foreign material is removed, they’ll begin to recover.
As animals age, they become more prone to tumors. These tumors sometimes develop on the skin and are easier to detect. Tumors that grow inside of your cat’s body won’t be inherently noticeable. Tumors in the nasal passages or inside of the face can obstruct your cat’s airway and make your cat’s body feel like something is stuck. Frequent sneezing can be a reaction of your cat attempting to clear their airway.
When in Doubt, Go See Your Vet
Your cat is communicating with you all the time, but they speak a different language. They’re attempting to tell you that something is wrong, but they can’t articulate what they feel or how severe they perceive their symptoms to be. It’s better to treat them as serious and be wrong than it is to brush them off and discover that the underlying issue is something that poses a risk to your cat’s life.
No matter the cause of your cat’s frequent sneezing, you need to see a vet. Symptoms may be slowly developing, and you don’t want to wait until your cat’s health is critically jeopardized before seeking medical intervention.
Prioritizing the Wellness of Your Cat
Regular vet appointments and vaccinations can significantly reduce the chances that your cat will develop a serious illness, especially if your cats are indoor animals that don’t come into contact with any animals outside of your household.
Make and keep a regular schedule with your vet for every animal in your household. Feed them a balanced and nutritious diet with limited safe treats. It’s okay to feed your cat small amounts of human food treats (like fresh tuna or bananas), but they shouldn’t play a core role in your cat’s diets.
Preventative care is always the best solution, as it solves problems before they have an opportunity to occur.