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Why is my cat sneezing a lot? Causes & care tips

Domesticated cat with runny nose, suffering with cold.
Article checked by a vet
Article checked by a vet

Cat sneezing generally happens for the same reasons we sneeze, such as simple household irritants entering their nose. The occasional achoo is no cause for concern however repeated bouts of sneezing may mean there is an underlying cause at play. If your cat is sneezing a lot, has a nasal discharge or your cat keeps sneezing around certain areas of your home it is time to investigate. Your cat may be suffering from allergies or an infection. In this article, we will break down all the causes of a sneezing cat.

Common reasons why a cat sneezes?

My cat is sneezing, what do I do? 

Noticing your cat sneezing occasionally is no cause for concern as most of the reasons behind a sneezing cat are benign. Cat sneezing is a normal biological function, irritants such as dust, perfume, household cleaners, fabrics, litter dust, pollen and smoke can all cause your cat to sneeze. However, if your cat keeps sneezing a lot you should take note of when and where your cat keeps sneezing, this will give you the insight you need into what is causing it! 

Environmental irritants

Common environmental irritants such as dust, pollen and smoke may be the reason behind your sneezing cat. Cats can suffer from mild or more severe irritation from these irritants just like we can. For example, do you use a litter which creates dust and notice your cat is sneezing when they are using the litter tray? Swap out your litter for a low-dust version and see if this helps. 

Allergies

Cats can experience allergies which can be caused by a variety of triggers such as food, pollen, fabrics, fur and mould. Monitoring when your cat sneezes is key to identifying the correct trigger. For example, does your cat frequently sneeze after being outdoors? This points to pollen being the issue and you should aim to keep your pet indoors when the pollen count is high or the grass is being cut. Allergies can be mild or more severe, with some cats even suffering from asthma, so it is important to monitor these bouts of sneezing. Sneezing can also occur if your cat has inhaled a 'foreign body' and a particle has stuck up their nose, so watch out for the cat rubbing its face on furniture or pawing at its nose.

Dental problems

Owners may not be aware that if your cat keeps sneezing and no environmental triggers seem to be the issue it could point to dental problems. Tooth infections can irritate the nasal passage which results in inflammation and sneezing. Taking care of your cat’s oral hygiene can help avoid this. 

Playful exploration

Cats love entering areas and spaces which may be dark, dank and dusty. You may not be aware there is mould in your home until your cat sniffs it out during playful exploration of all the nooks and crannies of your home. This exploration can also cause them to come into contact with more harmful substances if they are outdoors, which could also cause nasal irritation.

When should I see a vet about my cat sneezing?

If persistent sneezing happens for several days without any improvement it might be a sign of an underlying issue that a veterinarian needs to evaluate, such as asthma, allergies, cat-flu or dental issues. Other symptoms to be wary of include nasal or eye discharge (especially if coloured or thick), coughing, lethargy, appetite loss, or difficulty breathing. These symptoms could also point to cat flu. It is especially important to bring a sneezing cat to the vet if they have underlying health problems as these cats will be more susceptible to complications.

Do cat colds go away on their own?

Cats are susceptible to the flu just like humans are. Sneezing is usually accompanied by other symptoms such as lethargy, a runny nose and coughing. To avoid cat flu make sure your cat has been given their first flu vaccination and annual booster every year. Most cats can fight off the flu in 1-2 weeks and it is generally harmless, however, this depends on the strength of your cat’s immune system 

If you suspect your cat is fighting off the flu you should aim to isolate the cat from any other pets to avoid flu spreading through your household. Seek advice for treatment to soothe the symptoms from your vet. It is important to closely monitor your cat's recovery and keep track of symptoms.

What to do when your cat keeps sneezing?

  • Gently wipe your cat’s face with a damp cloth to remove any nasal discharge or irritants around the nostrils and eyes. This can provide immediate relief.
  • Make sure to hoover and clean your home frequently, especially your cat’s bed and main living areas. Aim to keep these areas free from dust, smoke, mould and strong odours which can irritate your cat’s nasal passages. An air purifier may help with pollen and dust. 
  • It is also important to keep your pet well hydrated if they are suffering from bouts of sneezing. Add some extra water bowls or a cat fountain for them to drink from.
  • Finally, offering warm, palatable food to encourage eating is also advised as cats with colds may lose their appetite or sense of smell. Make sure your pet is as comfortable as possible. 

Preventing your cat from sneezing

There are also preventative measures to avoid allergies and cat flu in the first place. You should make sure your cat gets their annual flu vaccines to avoid the spread of flu or bouts of cat sneezing. If you suspect your pet is suffering from allergies such as pollen you should also aim to keep your pet indoors when grass is being cut or during days with a high pollen count during the spring and summertime. 

It is important to monitor your cat’s sneezing symptoms so you can adequately care for your home and remove environmental triggers or arrange a vet visit. All causes of cat sneezing can be effectively managed and medication can be prescribed by your vet to take care of their allergies. Figuring out what is triggering your cat’s sneezes is key to managing them. With proper care and attention, most causes of sneezing in cats can be effectively managed, ensuring a happy and healthy life for your feline friend. If you need more advice about how to tell if your cat is ill we have got you covered. Head over to our article about how to tell if your cat is sick

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