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My Cat is Sneezing: When to Be Concerned

Dr. Rick Coufal, DVM

Dr. Rick Coufal, DVM

Dr. Rick Coufal is the founder and lead veterinarian for Ponderosa Veterinary Clinic. Coufal graduated from State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences in May of 2000.

Your cat hops up beside you on the couch, nuzzling your hand in an attempt to get pet. Once he takes a seat, he sneezes three times in a row. After saying “bless you” to your little feline friend, you can’t help but wonder what caused the sneezing. Although sneezing in cats isn’t always a cause for alarm, it is important to monitor it and pay attention to any other symptoms that may be present.

At Ponderosa Veterinary Clinic, we know it can be stressful not knowing the cause of your cat’s discomfort. This is why we strive to educate the Colorado Springs community about the causes that may be behind your cat’s sneezing. Even though sneezing is not always tied to a serious health concern, you should be sure to understand what causes it and when you need to take your cat to the vet.

Why is My Cat Sneezing?

If your cat is sneezing, it may be difficult to pinpoint the cause. There are various, reasons why your cats may be experiencing this symptom including:

  • Nose tickle
  • Inflammation of nasal passages or sinuses
  • Dust and dirt
  • Exposure to strong smells, like chemicals
  • Small foreign objects like a piece of food or yarn
  • Allergies
  • Trauma or blow to the nose

Not every sneeze is a cause for concern, but it is important to look for a pattern in the sneezing, as well as other symptoms.

When to Take a Sneezing Cat to the Vet

If one of these is the cause of your cat’s sneezing, other symptoms will become evident. These symptoms are your sign to head to the vet:

  • Nasal Discharge (especially if it’s yellowish-green or bloodied) 
  • Labored breathing, snoring, or breathing through the mouth – these
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Pawing at the face
  • Tearing from the eye

Causes of Sneezing in Cats

When your cat is experiencing more than just a nose tickle, other health concerns may arise. There are three main respiratory issues that often cause problems for cats, including:

Upper Respiratory Infections – These infections are the cat version of the “common cold.” They can be viral, bacterial, or fungal. 

Nasal and Sinus Issues – Rhinitis and Sinusitis are also common among cats. Both cause inflammation in cats’ noses and sinuses.

Chronic Upper Respiratory Conditions – In some cases, cats have permanent damage to their nasal passages as well as their immune system. Most commonly, chronic rhinitis will be the cause of frequent sneezing.

How to Treat Cat Sneezing

If your cat has more than a mild sneeze, you should seek treatment from the vet. Depending on what your vet determines to be the cause of the sneezing will dictate the treatment. Possible treatments include:

  • Eye and/or nose drops
  • Antiviral medications or antibiotics
  • Rhinoscopy to better exam the structures within the nose
  • Steroids
  • X-rays or advanced imaging of the nose, pharynx and chest
  • Blood and urine tests to detect viruses and other infectious diseases
  • Small biopsies from the nose

How to Stop Your Cat from Sneezing

If your cat’s sneezing is not severe, the best way to stop your cat from sneezing is to take steps to prevent the irritation causing the sneeze.

  • Make sure your cat is up-to-date on its vaccinations
  • Be aware of the scents in your house – Candles, air fresheners, certain laundry detergents, or cigarette smoke, may be the cause.
  • Check out the litter box – Some types of litter tend to kick up more dust when being used and may be the source of irritation.
  • Be careful when cleaning – It is important to keep your home clean, but it is also essential that you are careful with the disinfectant used around your cat’s space. The chemicals and any fruity scents may cause discomfort.

Cat Sneezing Frequently? | Ponderosa Veterinary Clinic

If your cat is experiencing frequent sneezing or nasal discharge, our compassionate team is here to help ensure your cat’s health. At Ponderosa Veterinary Clinic, we provide a variety of services, including wellness exams, x-rays, and blood work, which can pinpoint the cause of your cat’s sneezing troubles. Contact us today to learn more.

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Ponderosa Veterinary Clinic is seeking an enthusiastic and caring veterinarian to work relief, part-time or full-time in our general practice. PVC is a full-service, 3+ doctor, small-animal veterinary hospital. We have established an excellent reputation for developing lasting relationships with our clients and for providing compassionate and quality care to our patients.