Why Does My Cat Sneeze All the Time?

If your cat suddenly starts sneezing and coughing more than normal, you may start to wonder if something is wrong. After all, cats are notoriously good at hiding illness until it has become severe. At what point should you start to worry?

While these viruses are highly contagious among cats, you wont have to worry about catching it yourself as it cannot be transferred to humans. There could be an infection in the roots of the teeth that is draining into the nasal passages, or your cat could even have tumors in the nose.

Coughing is the way we rid our respiratory tract of irritants like dust and mucus. If you suspect asthma is the issue, your vet can help you confirm and come up with a care plan. Lung cancer: Persistent, excessive coughing could be due to a lung tumor; however, there should be other obvious signs if that is the case such as lethargy, loss of appetite, wasting away of muscles, and coughing up blood.

It may be time to contact the vet if you notice sneezing or coughing accompanied by: Blood Wheezing Drooling Fever Decreased appetite/weight loss Anorexia Lethargy Trouble breathing Excessive discharge (may be yellow or green) Diarrhea Depression If you dont notice any of these more severe symptoms but are still concerned, it never hurts for your cat to get a checkup and ease your mind!

When should I worry about my cat sneezing?

A cat with allergies or a cold may start to sneeze, and cats can be infected with viruses, pathogens, and bacteria that can all cause these problems. If your cat is sneezing a lot for several days or if she shows other signs of being sick, you should take her to the veterinarian to be examined.

Is it bad if your cat sneezes a lot?

If your cat suddenly starts sneezing and coughing more than normal, you may start to wonder if something is wrong. … Much like humans, the occasional cough or sneeze is completely harmless. It’s likely something small like dust up the nose, fur in the throat, or some other foreign matter.

What can I give my cat for sneezing?

Although these infections are rarely the sole issue, treatment with antibiotics such as doxycycline or azithromycin will dramatically reduce sneezing and other symptoms, allowing your cat to breathe more comfortably.

How much sneezing is too much for a cat?

Like humans and other animals, sneezing is a normal thing if it happens occasionally. It’s even normal for a cat to have an occasional sneezing fit. But it’s not normal for a cat to sneeze several times a day for several days in a row.

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 cant help but wonder what caused the sneezing. Although sneezing in cats isnt always a cause for alarm, it is important to monitor it and pay attention to any other symptoms that may be present.

Sneezing is a useful bodily function in which the body forcefully expels irritants from the nose. A multitude of animal species sneeze, including dogs, chickens, elephants, certain lizards, and cats.

Infections, chronic inflammation, dental disease, cancer, and inhalation of foreign material can all cause a cat to sneeze. Unlike people, herpesvirus in cats causes primarily upper respiratory signs, including sneezing and discharge from the eyes and nose.

Other viral infections that can contribute to cat sneezing include calicivirus (which the FVRCP combo vaccine provides protection against) and influenza. Bacterial infections almost always play a secondary role in upper respiratory symptoms in cats. If you see yellow or green snot emerging from your cats nose or eyes, this abnormally colored discharge is a sure sign of a bacterial infection.

Bordetella , mycoplasma , and chlamydia are all common culprits of bacterial infections in a cats nose. Although these infections are rarely the sole issue, treatment with antibiotics such as doxycycline or azithromycin will dramatically reduce sneezing and other symptoms, allowing your cat to breathe more comfortably. A very broad category of disease that contributes to cat sneezing is one that creates inflammation and irritation in the nose.

Inhalation of foreign material, like blades of grass, foxtails, etc., can of course cause irritation to the nasal passages. When these intruders are inhaled by a cat, the bodys response is to sneeze to expel the foreign debris. While this approach might work for smaller particles like dust, larger objects are difficult for a cat to remove by sneezing.

These situations can be diagnosed with either rhinoscopy, in which a camera is inserted into the nose of an anesthetized cat, or a nasal flush, in which sterile saline is forced through the nasal passages (again, under anesthesia) to remove the material that the cat was unable to sneeze away. Many pet owners are surprised to hear that dental disease could contribute to cat sneezing. When teeth become infected, or when severe inflammation exists, the barrier between the tooth socket and the nose can be penetrated.

When the cat eats, food material can enter the nose, triggering the sneeze reflex. Treating the dental disease, either by extraction of the affected tooth or closure of the abnormal hole, will typically alleviate the sneezing unless the issue has progressed to the feedback loop of chronic rhinitis. This condition is generally painful, so if you suspect dental disease in your cat, a veterinary visit is strongly advised.

A physical exam alone will not be enough to distinguish a fungal infection from other causes of cat sneezing, so rhinoscopy or a biopsy are usually required to achieve a diagnosis. If your cat starts sneezing suddenly and it lasts several days, there is a possibility that the issue will resolve, but treatment will likely be needed. Persistence of sneezing to a chronic state substantially raises the odds that an underlying disease process is at play.

Since many of these conditions are uncomfortable or painful, its never a bad idea to take your cat to the vet as soon as you notice a problem, even if sneezing is the only symptom. If a cat is coughing and sneezing, it typically means that its primarily an upper respiratory process with postnasal drip irritating the throat. If you see nasal discharge, especially with blood or pus-colored mucus, make a note or take a picture before cleaning your cats face, as this can help narrow down the causes.

Imaging can be useful to look for underlying causes and to evaluate the degree of damage to the inside of the nose in severe cases. Rhinoscopy, in which a camera is inserted into the nasal passages of an anesthetized cat, can be used to search for tumors or fungal plaques. Biopsies of the walls of the nasal cavity may be taken during rhinoscopy to search for inflammatory, fungal, and cancerous causes of sneezing.

Flushing the nasal passages while the cat is under anesthesia can sometimes reveal diagnostic information (e.g., dislodging a foreign body), and it is also a treatment. More research is needed to fully understand the role that infections play in cat sneezing, but repeated or prolonged courses of antibiotics have proved to be effective in controlling clinical signs. Although bacterial infections are rarely the primary problem, antibiotics are often used for such cases, as these drugs make the cat feel better quite quickly.

Nasal lavage under general anesthesia can relieve clinical signs temporarily, regardless of the cause, and it can dislodge hidden foreign material.

An occasional sneeze in a cat is normal and no real cause for alarm. Just as in humans, sneezing in cats is an explosive release of air through the nose and mouth – often the bodys response to irritants in the nasal passages. Sometimes, excitement or movement can bring on sneezing in cats.

Similar to colds in humans, these infections are more common in young cats, especially in those coming from animal shelters. Mouth ulcers are the most common problem, but it can affect the respiratory tract and even cause pneumonia .

These infections may make your cat more likely to develop other respiratory problems that can exacerbate sneezing. Feline infectious peritonitis, which may cause no symptoms, mild symptoms, or more severe symptoms over time Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV), which develops slowly, but severely impacts a cats immune system, leaving the cat vulnerable to other infections Feline leukemia , a serious and often fatal infection Chlamydia, which often produces an eye infection ( conjunctivitis ) Bordetella Mycoplasma These are all examples of potential irritants or allergens (substances that cause allergic reactions) in cats:

For example, its common for cats to experience sneezing within four to seven days of receiving an intranasal vaccine. Symptoms that may accompany sneezing in cats may be the result of a wide range of infections and other problems. Eye discharge, swelling, or ulcers Excessive nasal discharge, sometimes yellow or green in color (sometimes a sign of a bacterial infection) Fatigue or depression Fever Drooling Decreased appetite or weight loss Enlarged lymph nodes Wheezing or coughing Poor coat condition Trouble breathing Diarrhea

In mild cases, the vet may suggest taking steps to simply help your cat be more comfortable — like using a humidifier. Rarely, cats that dont respond to medical therapy may require surgery. Cornell University: Treatment of Respiratory Infection in Cats, Feline Infectious Peritonitis, Feline Leukemia Virus, and Treatment of Upper Respiratory Infection in Cats.

Sneezing in Cats

Sneezing is simply a response to irritation of the nasal passages including dust and debris, strong odors, or illness.Some common causes of sneezing include:If you suspect dust is the culprit, try switching to wet dusting when cleaning. You can also change to a litter that has a low dust content.If your cat’s symptoms are the result of a virus, you will simply treat the symptoms until it passes. If, however, it turns into a bacterial infection, antibiotics can be prescribed by your veterinarian.

Coughing in Cats

Coughing is the way we rid our respiratory tract of irritants like dust and mucus. The same goes for your cat. Causes of coughing can range from mild to severe.

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:

How to Stop Your Cat from 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:

What Causes Cat Sneezing?

Cat sneezing can be surprisingly difficult to diagnose, for several reasons. First, your veterinarian will need to confirm that your cat is actually sneezing.Coughing, gagging, reverse sneezing, hiccupping, retching, and wheezing can all be misidentified as a sneeze, and each of these symptoms come with a separate list of possible causes.Take a video of your cat during an episode to help your vet confirm whether it really is a sneeze.Another obstacle in diagnosing cat sneezing is the plethora of underlying causes. Infections, chronic inflammation, dental disease, cancer, and inhalation of foreign material can all cause a cat to sneeze.Further complicating matters is the fact that in cats, more than one of these causes is usually going on at the same time.Here are some of the possible causes for sneezing in cats.

Viral Respiratory Infections

In sneezing cats, viral upper respiratory infections are, as a general rule, the original problem. The most prevalent infection is feline herpesvirus. Some researchers have estimated that as many as 80-90% of cats are infected with herpesvirus.Unlike people, herpesvirus in cats causes primarily upper respiratory signs, including sneezing and discharge from the eyes and nose. As in people, the symptoms of feline herpesvirus are exacerbated by stress.Although there is emerging research to suggest that existing drugs could improve outcomes for cats infected with herpesvirus, there is currently no cure, and infections are lifelong.Other viral infections that can contribute to cat sneezing include calicivirus (which the FVRCP combo vaccine provides protection against) and influenza.

Bacterial Infections

Bacterial infections almost always play a secondary role in upper respiratory symptoms in cats.If you see yellow or green snot emerging from your cat’s nose or eyes, this abnormally colored discharge is a sure sign of a bacterial infection.However, in cats, these bacterial infections almost never act alone; after a respiratory virus or other disease process causes damage to the nasal passages, bacteria seize the opportunity to take advantage of the diminished barriers that usually protect the cat from such attacks.Bordetella, mycoplasma, and chlamydia are all common culprits of bacterial infections in a cat’s nose. Although these infections are rarely the sole issue, treatment with antibiotics such as doxycycline or azithromycin will dramatically reduce sneezing and other symptoms, allowing your cat to breathe more comfortably.Research into the efficacy of newer antibiotics may allow your vet to more easily treat these infections in the future.

Inflammation and Irritation

A very broad category of disease that contributes to cat sneezing is one that creates inflammation and irritation in the nose.The infections mentioned above can certainly cause inflammation, but so can almost all other causes of cat sneezing.Making matters more complicated, inflammation itself can cause a cat to sneeze, creating a feedback loop where cats continue to sneeze long after the initial problem is eliminated or has been inactivated. This situation is typically referred to as chronic rhinitis.There is no good test for diagnosing an inflammatory condition as the sole cause of sneezing in cats (short of a nasal biopsy, which must be done under anesthesia). So, typically, once the other causes are ruled out, inflammation is the last man standing, so to speak.Reportedly effective treatments range from steroids and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to drugs typically used for nausea. Although in its infancy, there is evidence to suggest that immunotherapy could help sneezing cats in certain cases.Although allergies are inflammatory, allergic rhinitis (sneezing from allergies) is so rare as to be nonexistent in the domestic cat.

Foreign Material

Inhalation of foreign material, like blades of grass, foxtails, etc., can of course cause irritation to the nasal passages.When these intruders are inhaled by a cat, the body’s response is to sneeze to expel the foreign debris. While this approach might work for smaller particles like dust, larger objects are difficult for a cat to remove by sneezing.These situations can be diagnosed with either rhinoscopy, in which a camera is inserted into the nose of an anesthetized cat, or a nasal flush, in which sterile saline is forced through the nasal passages (again, under anesthesia) to remove the material that the cat was unable to sneeze away.

Dental Disease

Many pet owners are surprised to hear that dental disease could contribute to cat sneezing.As with many species, the roots of the teeth on the upper jaw are located right next to the nasal passages. When teeth become infected, or when severe inflammation exists, the barrier between the tooth socket and the nose can be penetrated.When the cat eats, food material can enter the nose, triggering the sneeze reflex.Treating the dental disease, either by extraction of the affected tooth or closure of the abnormal hole, will typically alleviate the sneezing unless the issue has progressed to the feedback loop of chronic rhinitis.This condition is generally painful, so if you suspect dental disease in your cat, a veterinary visit is strongly advised.

Neoplasia (Tumors)

As with most symptoms, tumors are always on the list of possible causes.In older cats especially, tumors can grow inside the nasal passage, creating irritation and inflammation that causes the cat to sneeze. These tumors are typically detected visually via rhinoscopy or a nasal biopsy.When they are present, the prognosis is unfortunately quite poor. Similar to dental disease, nasal tumors are thought to be painful.

Fungal Infections

Although less common than viral or bacterial infections, fungal infections are a known cause of sneezing in cats.A fungus called Cryptococcus is the usual suspect.Unlike viral infections, there are effective treatments for fungal infections in the feline nose. A physical exam alone will not be enough to distinguish a fungal infection from other causes of cat sneezing, so rhinoscopy or a biopsy are usually required to achieve a diagnosis.Fungal infections in this location can be painful.

Other Causes

Although a handful of other causes can contribute to your cat’s sneezing—including polyps or abnormal formation of the nose and mouth—the causes listed above are vastly more common.

Is Cat Sneezing Serious?

It depends on whether the cause is environmental or a disease.Sometimes the irritants that trigger the sneeze reflex are environmental—like dust, mold, or pollen—which the cat inhales, causing them to sneeze. In these cases, sneezing is usually not serious, especially if seen in an isolated episode.More often, though, cat sneezing is caused by one or more disease processes.Most commonly, a viral infection is the initial problem, with subsequent inflammation and bacterial infections causing damage to the architecture inside the nose, perpetuating the problem.

What If My Cat Keeps Sneezing?

It depends on the cause. If it is an isolated episode of cat sneezing, the issue is likely to go away and not return.If your cat starts sneezing suddenly and it lasts several days, there is a possibility that the issue will resolve, but treatment will likely be needed.If your cat suffers from chronic sneezing, however, they will likely be sneezing intermittently for the rest of their life. Persistence of sneezing to a chronic state substantially raises the odds that an underlying disease process is at play.

Cat Sneezing With Other Symptoms

Since many of these conditions are uncomfortable or painful, it’s never a bad idea to take your cat to the vet as soon as you notice a problem, even if sneezing is the only symptom.However, these signs are more serious and require a vet visit sooner rather than later:

Physical Exam

Your vet may want to first run some baseline tests to evaluate the overall health status of your cat. A dental exam should be a part of the initial physical exam to investigate whether dental disease may be causing the sneezing.

Imaging

Imaging can be useful to look for underlying causes and to evaluate the degree of damage to the inside of the nose in severe cases.Your veterinarian can take X-rays of your cat’s head and chest, but the gold standard for imaging sneezing cats is a computerized tomography scan, which requires general anesthesia and is typically done in emergency or referral hospitals.

Rhinoscopy

Rhinoscopy, in which a camera is inserted into the nasal passages of an anesthetized cat, can be used to search for tumors or fungal plaques.

Biopsy

Biopsies of the walls of the nasal cavity may be taken during rhinoscopy to search for inflammatory, fungal, and cancerous causes of sneezing.

Nasal Lavage

Flushing the nasal passages while the cat is under anesthesia can sometimes reveal diagnostic information (e.g., dislodging a foreign body), and it is also a treatment.

How Do You Treat a Sneezing Cat?

Treatment for cat sneezing is typically targeted at the underlying cause where possible.While a wide variety of treatments are available, owners should be aware that the goal in most cases, especially chronic cases, is to reduce the frequency and severity of symptoms, not to cure them.More research is needed to fully understand the role that infections play in cat sneezing, but repeated or prolonged courses of antibiotics have proved to be effective in controlling clinical signs.

Antibiotics

Although bacterial infections are rarely the primary problem, antibiotics are often used for such cases, as these drugs make the cat feel better quite quickly.

Nasal Lavage

Nasal lavage under general anesthesia can relieve clinical signs temporarily, regardless of the cause, and it can dislodge hidden foreign material.

Sneezing and Other Symptoms

If your cat is sneezing a lot, your veterinarian may initially suspect a cause based on a review of your cat’s symptoms. One of the main causes of sneezing is infection. In some cases, the vet may take a swab from the mouth, throat, eyes, or nose and send it to a lab to confirm an infection. Inhaled irritants or allergens are other common causes of sneezing in cats.Viral infections that most commonly cause sneezing in cats are:These infections may make your cat more likely to develop other respiratory problems that can exacerbate sneezing. For example, a cat with herpes may also develop a secondary bacterial infection. These are often treatable with antibiotics.A wide range of other infections may also lead to sneezing. They include: