While cat sneezes may be one of the cutest noises you’ve ever heard, in some cases they could also be cause for concern. If you’re asking yourself "why is my cat sneezing so much?" then be sure to pay close attention to your feline so you can identify if other symptoms are present. You may need to take your cat to the veterinarian to rule out any serious medical issues.
Just like humans, cats can suffer from upper respiratory and sinus infections, along with other conditions that might lead to those adorable little sneezes. Here's what you need to know about your cat sneezing and if there's any cause for concern.
When should I worry about my cat sneezing?
The occasional sneeze from your cat is usually nothing to be concerned about—it may just be something irritating their nasal passage. If it’s more than occasional, you’ll want to look for patterns. Try to notice if it happens around the same time of day or only in a certain room. This can help you determine if your cat’s sneezing is due to an irritant or if it's caused by an infection or underlying condition. Be sure to monitor your cat for other symptoms along with frequent sneezing. But first, let's determine the reasons why your cat might be sneezing.
Top reasons why cats sneeze
Cats sneeze for a variety of reasons: some are as innocent as a tickle in their nasal passage, while others are as serious as an upper respiratory infection or even pneumonia. As long as you keep an eye on your pet, you should be able to better determine the underlying cause of their sneezes. Here are the most common answers to why is my cat sneezing?
Respiratory infections in cats
One of the common reasons for sneezing is an upper respiratory infection in your cat. Respiratory infections are similar to your cat having a common cold. Upper respiratory infections can be viral, bacterial, and fungal. These types of infections can last anywhere from 7 to 21 days, but on average last 7 to 10 days.
If you have multiple cats, you may be wondering why are all my cats sneezing? Keep in mind that just like the common cold, upper respiratory infections in cats are contagious and can easily spread to other cats in the home.
Your cat could also be suffering from an inflammatory condition like rhinitis and sinusitis. Your cat will display similar symptoms with these two conditions. Rhinitis is what humans refer to as a “stuffy nose,” as it is inflammation of the mucous membranes in the nose. Sinusitis is inflammation in the lining of the sinuses. These two conditions also often occur together as rhinosinusitis.
Chronic upper respiratory conditions
If your cat has permanent damage to their nasal passages and a compromised immune system, it can lead to chronic upper respiratory conditions and constant sneezing. Symptoms of a chronic condition are similar to upper respiratory infections and inflammation but persist over weeks or months, or in intervals of a few weeks. Chronic rhinitis can also lead to recurring bacterial infections.
In addition, cats that have recovered from severe acute viral infections like feline calicivirus and feline herpesvirus are more susceptible to chronic upper respiratory conditions.
Inflammation or infection of a tooth
Dental disease can cause sneezing, especially if the infection is at the root of the tooth. When cats have tooth infections, bacteria can establish in the sinuses. This results in inflammation, along with frequent sneezing.
In most cases, symptoms of allergies in cats present themselves as skin irritation or hair loss. However, other symptoms can arise like your cat coughing, sneezing, and wheezing, as well as itchy and watery eyes.
Symptoms of allergies can occur seasonally due to outdoor allergens like pollen, or year-round allergens like dust or mold. Keep in mind, if you let your cat go outside, they are more exposed to chemicals in fertilizers. Indoor cats can also come in contact with houseplants that can cause allergic reactions.
Your cat could be sneezing for the simplest of reasons, such as something momentarily irritating their nose and sinuses. This is probably the most obvious reason for sneezing and nothing to be concerned about! Irritants can include mild chemical smells, perfumes, airborne particles, or a nose tickle.
Symptoms of allergies in cats
Allergic reactions occur when a cat’s immune system overreacts to foreign substances or particles. These are some of the symptoms of cat allergies to look out for:
- Skin itchiness that causes scratching, rubbing, or head shaking
- Coughing or wheezing
While you can’t protect your cat from every allergen out there, you can help keep germs and unwanted particles at bay in your litter box with the Litter-Robot cleaner. This cleaner uses bio-enzymatic technology combined with plant-based cleaners. It is an all-natural cleaner that digests and eliminates organic material, stains, and odors on your litter box (or elsewhere around the house). Keep your cat healthy by avoiding exposing them to harmful germs and harsh chemicals that could irritate their respiratory and immune systems.
Is it normal for my cat to sneeze multiple times in a row?
A sneeze here and there from your cat is normal and nothing to worry about. You may even notice your cat has a sneezing fit and sneezes multiple times in a row, which is also normal. What isn’t normal is if your cat is sneezing several times a day and for several days in a row. Frequent and consistent sneezing means it may be time for a trip to the vet.
What to do when you feel like your cat is sneezing too much
If your cat is healthy and lets out the occasional sneeze, then you probably have nothing to worry about. Be sure to take your cat to the vet for a yearly physical, or as recommended by your vet.
You can also check your cat's head and face between vet visits to look for abnormalities like discharge from the eyes or nose. If you notice your cat coughing and sneezing and they appear lethargic, are having trouble breathing, have a decreased appetite, and/or are dehydrated, take them to the vet immediately to rule out any major medical emergencies.
Keep your kitty healthy
Now that you have the answer to why is my cat sneezing so much? you’ll be able to stay on top of when sneezing is normal and when it's a cause for concern. Take your cat's health a step further with a self-cleaning litter box and the Whisker app! This WiFi-enabled self-cleaning litter box gives you freedom from your litter box duties, while still allowing you to monitor your cat’s litter box health habits. With the app, you can monitor your cat's waste behavior to help you identify whether there are any other medical symptoms of concern. The Litter-Robot 3 Connect makes caring for your cat easy!
The occasional sneeze is harmless. However, if your cat is sneezing multiple times a day for several days, or if other symptoms are present, you should contact your vet.
Anytime sneezing persists or is accompanied by other symptoms like coughing, loss of appetite, or discharge from the eyes and nose, a visit to the vet is most likely needed to get the proper diagnosis and treatment.
The pathogens that cause a cold in cats are usually airborne and can be brought into your home by another indoor/outdoor pet.
Cover photo by Kevin Knezic on Unsplash