Cats can be hard to read sometimes. Your cat might not feel good, but you might not notice anything is amiss for a few days until their symptoms start to progress. Because cats can be good at hiding their illnesses, cat owners need to be informed about different kinds of symptoms or behaviors that could indicate health issues that require a visit to the vet.
If your cat has been sneezing, you might not be sure if this is a reason for concern or not. There are some cases where cat sneezing is not a serious symptom or something that should cause you concern. However, there are some illnesses that cats can contract that cause sneezing which does require a visit to the vet. Knowing more about the reasons for cat sneezing can help you to be sure about when to call the vet.
When is Sneezing in Cats “Normal”?
Normal sneezing in cats can be linked with dust in the air or other small irritant that are not of concern. If your cat has only sneezed once or twice here and there, this is likely just a normal reaction to something in the air that has tickled their nose.
Some cats can also “reverse sneeze” which can be quite scary to pet owners as it sounds like a loud honk in most cases. While a bit startling, this is not necessarily a sign of anything serious going on, and some cat breeds are more prone to this kind of reaction to things like dust or irritants in the throat.
When Should You Call the Vet?
There are some kinds of sneezing that are a good reason to call your veterinarian. You will need to start paying attention to your cat’s behavior if you hear them sneezing to see if they are showing other symptoms that might be a reason for a trip to the vet.
1. Respiratory Infections
Cats with severe allergies or a cold can sneeze frequently and have snotty noses. Your cat might also have runny eyes and seem like they cannot open their eyes all the way. Cats that have been sneezing consistently for more than a few days might have an allergy that requires treatment, or they could be brewing a cold or upper respiratory tract infection.
Look for signs like a lack of appetite as well as lethargy. Cats who have severe allergies or a cold might also stop eating and drinking. Cats that are not drinking enough water or eating much at all can quickly end up with more serious health conditions, so you should take your pet to the vet if they have stopped drinking and eating.
2. Feline Herpes
Feline Herpes is not communicable to humans. Cats can share it with one another, however, so if you have a cat that has been diagnosed with this disease, it will need to be kept away from the other pets in the house during flares. When cats with Feline Herpes are stressed, they can have a flare which can cause sneezing, a snotty nose, and runny eyes.
Since this condition looks so much like the common cat cold, your cat will likely be tested for it when you take them to the vet. There are treatment protocols that can help to prevent flares as well, so getting a diagnosis can be very helpful to your cat’s well-being.
3. Feline Immunodeficiency Virus
Also known as FIV, this condition is the feline version of human HIV. Humans and cats cannot catch one another’s HIV, however. If your cat has FIV, they might originally seem to have a cold but will likely quickly show a host of other symptoms that are more serious. Your vet will be able to advise you about the treatment of this pet, and you should make sure to keep this cat separate from your other pets so that they do not catch FIV.
FIV will likely shorten your cat’s lifespan, but treatment protocols related to the management of secondary symptoms have improved over time, and many cats have lots of years of comfortable life to live once they have been diagnosed.
4. Dental Issues
A cat can sometimes sneeze due to dental issues. Pain in the mouth or abscesses in the roof of the mouth or the teeth can lead to pain and infection that puts pressure on the sinuses. This can cause sneezing, infective material discharge, and pain. Cats with severe dental disease often need to have teeth removed and will typically need to have a full teeth cleaning to resolve the sneezing and other symptoms.
5. Foreign Object
Cats can sometimes accidentally sniff something up into their nose that should not be there. This can be things like grass seeds, grass blades, or stuffing from toys. If your cat has an item lodged in the nasal passage they might sneeze, cough, have nasal discharge, and seem to be gagging sometimes as well. Vets can usually remove these objects with a simple procedure, but typically this condition will not resolve on its own. If you do not attend to a foreign object in your pet’s nose soon enough, your cat could get a secondary infection, so getting your pet to the vet is a good idea if you suspect this is the reason for their sneezing.
Cat Sneezing Can be linked With Many Health Issues
As you have probably learned while reading this guide, there are many health conditions that cats can have that can be linked to sneezing. If you are not sure if your cat’s sneezing is serious, it is always a good idea to just take them to see the vet. Being safe rather than sorry can be a good rule of thumb when it comes to cat sneezing since there are some very serious health conditions that can cause sneezing as a symptom.
Caring for cats can be hard since they are stoical, but your vet will be able to help you to get an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan in place for your pet.
Welcome to Kryder & Harr Veterinary Clinic! Our animal hospital has been a fixture in the Granger community since 1981, practicing full-service veterinary medicine for all our pet parents and their furry family members. At KHVC, we pride ourselves on our history, of providing excellent customer service for our clients, along with dedicated, compassionate, and exceptional medical care for all of our patients.