Why Is My Cat Sneezing?

Just like humans, there are many reasons cats sneeze, and not all of them are because they’re sick.

If your cat just sneezes every now and then, it’s probably because they had a tickle or inhaled a piece of dust. Even strong odors like tobacco or perfumes can make them sneeze. Now, repeated sneezing could indicate a more serious issue.

Let’s look at the most common reasons cats sneeze, and when you may want to reach out to your vet.

Foreign Bodies

Cats can get lint, fur, or even blades of grass stuck in their noses. They’ll start sneezing, which is the body’s way to dislodge the object.

Other symptoms include pawing at the nose, snorting, coughing, gagging, repeated swallowing, and nasal discharge. If the foreign body doesn’t come out, the cat is at risk for an infection.

One way to dislodge the foreign body is with a nasal flush, which would be performed by your vet. If you think your cat has a foreign body stuck in their nose, reach out to your vet immediately.

Kitty Colds

One of the most common reasons cats sneeze is because of a kitty cold or upper respiratory infection (URI). The two most common viruses are the feline herpes virus or calicivirus.

Most cats are exposed to URIs when they are very young, and just about every cat has had one or both of the viruses at some point in their life.

These viruses lay dormant in your cat’s body, but they can be brought back to life by stress. While your cat received their annual FVRCP vaccine, which offers them some protection, these viruses are sort of like the flu—always mutating.

Typically, the first kitty cold is the worst, and any flare-ups tend to be milder after that. While the initial virus usually hangs around for 7-21 days, flare-ups are usually shorter (as long as the cat is healthy).

Cats in low-stress environments tend to be okay, but cats in stressful situations, like shelters, are more likely to get sicker because stress weakens the immune system.

One of the biggest issues, when a cat has a cold, is their nose is congested so they can’t smell. And if they can’t smell, they can’t taste (just like us), which makes them less inclined to eat or drink. Not eating for a short time is okay, but the bigger concern is they can get dehydrated if they aren’t drinking water or eating wet food.

If your kitty sounds congested, there are a few things you can do at home to help them.

You can use over-the-counter saline drops for human babies to clear their nose.

You can also put the cat in a room with a humidifier (make sure you do NOT use menthol, cats hate it), and just run it with plain water so the steam comes out. If you don’t have a humidifier, you can just put your cat in the bathroom and run the shower on hot to create steam. This will help clear your cat’s nasal passages.

Once they can smell, their appetite should return. To encourage your cat to eat, you can try adding more water to wet food and heating it in the microwave for a few seconds so it gets smelly.



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