Why Do Cats Sneeze?

By Langley Cornwell

This is probably wrong of me, but I think it’s cute when our cat sneezes. After the initial ah-choo, he always looks startled, as if to say “where did that come from?”

Of course, humans are not the only ones with allergies. Dogs and cats can have them too. In fact, when a cat sneezes, it’s often a sign that he is allergic to something. Excess sneezing may be one of the first signs that something is amiss with your feline friend. In general, cats sneeze for the same reason that people do; it may be something as simple as a tickling in their nose, or they might have a more serious issue that is causing them to sneeze.

As responsible pet owners, we coddle our cats and feed them nutritious, high quality food like Canidae, but we don’t want to run off to the vet every time they sneeze. So how do we know when kitty is just sneezing “regularly” or if he needs a visit to the veterinarian?

Time to see the vet

An occasional sneeze is nothing to worry about most of the time. Kittens and cats will sneeze whenever they get something in their nasal passage that doesn’t belong there. If your cat is particularly curious, this may occur fairly often. Our cat puts his nose into everything! Perhaps he learned it from our dogs or maybe it’s a common behavior, but he is a sniffer and a sneezer.

Multiple sneezes, one after another, may be a sign of trouble. Sneezing fits that won’t go away or that happen with regularity warrant a prompt vet visit. Even though our cat never got into a true sneezing fit, we had him checked out. I was afraid there was something awry in his nasal passages, but it turns out that he is just a curious little guy who feels the need to smell everything.

Common causes of feline sneezing

There are many reasons a cat will sneeze. A partial list includes:

● Cigarette smoke
● Dust
● Pollen
● Household cleaners
● Food allergies

These allergens are similar to human ones, and can cause other symptoms as well. You might notice your cat with a runny nose, scratchy eyes or a skin rash. If these are present along with sneezing, you almost certainly have an allergy troubled cat. Get them to the vet and you can work out a treatment plan that will help your pet find relief.

Another common cause of feline sneezing is vermin. Disgusting but true: cockroaches, rats, mice and other things that cats like to chase can leave behind all kinds of nasty irritants. What’s more, if this is the cause of your cat’s sneezing, then you too are exposed to the nastiness. You should call an exterminator at the first signs of vermin trouble.

Just like humans, cats and kittens can also get sick. Look for mucus around your cat’s eyes and nose. Respiratory infections are somewhat common with cats, so you might consider this if your cat is sneezing and acting puny. The sickness might be bacterial or viral, so again you should contact your vet.

There are other, more unusual, causes of feline sneezing. They always will come with other symptoms. If your cat is older than three, repeated sneezing combined with bad breath could be signs of an oral issue. Aside from being painful, teeth troubles, dental abscesses and gum disease can pose a serious threat to your pet’s health.

Sneezing may also indicate rabies or fungal infections such as ringworm. It could even be a sign of parasites.

Preventing sneeze inducing conditions

The bottom line here is to be aware. Pay attention to your cat and note when his behavior is unusual. If he is sneezing every time he enters a certain room, for example, this might lead you to search that room for potential triggers. It may also be helpful to keep a notepad handy and document when your cat sneezes repeatedly. Write down when, how many times, where they were, what they were doing and so on. You can later scan your notes to determine if there are common denominators. Furthermore, this information can be invaluable to the vet when you visit. Finally, keep your cat inside if at all possible. The vast majority of maladies that your cat might pick up are found outside.

Go ahead and smile at the occasional cat sneeze, but be on the lookout for anything unusual. After all, you want to keep your feline friend happy and healthy.

Photos by Alisha Vargas

Read more articles by Langley Cornwell

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One thought on “Why Do Cats Sneeze?

  1. One of my cats has constant sneezing fits. At first we thought it was just some random thing but it has been occurring on a regular basis now. Usually its several consecutive sneezes and sometimes enough to cause mucus discharge. We think we’ve ruled out allergens so he is being scheduled for a vet visit to see if antibiotics are in order. I didn’t think about a respiratory infection since he is young and healthy. Is this common for any aged cat or usually in their adult years?

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