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Sneezing in Cats | Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention

Why does my cat sneeze? If you’ve ever asked yourself this question, you’ve ended up in the right place. In this article, we will discuss several things you ought to know about sneezing in cats. One thing we’d like to point out right from the beginning is that cats don’t usually sneeze, especially regularly, so there’s a problem causing irritation in the nasal passages if you’ve noticed that your pet sneezes rather often.

When to see the vet

There are many things that can cause sneezing in cats, but the symptoms that you should be on the lookout for and that should give you a sign that you need to take your cat in for a check-up range from clear eye or nose discharge that turns into yellow or green, eye and nose boogers, squinting, eye redness, nasal congestion, coughing and lethargy, and dehydration. If you have noticed any of these, you have to take your pet to the vet as soon as possible.

Causes and symptoms

Persistent sneezing in cats can be caused by many things, but one of the most common ones is an upper respiratory tract infection, which can be the outcome of viral and fungal infections. Viral infections are dangerous as they can be caused by feline herpesvirus or feline calicivirus, and these are contagious, so if you have two or more cats that have never been vaccinated and they’re cohabitating the same space, the likelihood of one passing the infection to the other is very high.

Viral infections can also lead to secondary bacterial infections, in which case an upper respiratory tract infection can spread and can even lead to pneumonia if it’s not treated in due time. Fungal infections are rare by comparison to viral ones, but they can’t be eliminated as a cause, either.

Sneezing can also be caused by allergies, dust and airborne particles, dental problems, cigarette smoke, and nasal cancer. Some cats can be allergic to pollen, so they usually have symptoms characteristic to ‘hay fever’ – from itchy eyes and sneezing to a runny nose.

Some of the symptoms you might be able to notice are, of course, nasal discharge and sneezing, but can also vary from pawing at the face, frequent swallowing and gagging, loud breathing, fever, a decrease in appetite, tongue ulcers, to nasal and eye discharge. Because these show up in a broad variety of medical conditions, you can’t know for sure which one your cat is suffering from unless you take the animal to the vet.

Diagnosis

A complete physical examination needs to be performed in order for all of the signs to be assessed, as well as their severity. You will have to bring in your cat’s documents, medical history, and the vet will also ask for the vaccination records so that he or she eliminates the probability of a viral infection such as one caused by feline calicivirus or feline herpesvirus.

Some tests will have to be run in order to determine the specific medical condition that your cat is affected by. There are tests for viruses, bacteria, and fungi. A complete blood count and a biochemical profile might also be required to determine your cat’s overall health. If the vet suspects that pneumonia is under development, your cat might also have to undergo an X-ray. Cytology can also be used to determine whether your cat is suffering from cancer.

Treatment

It stands to reason that the treatment varies depending on the diagnosis. If the issue is caused by the presence of a foreign object (such as a blade of grass), the vet can have it removed swiftly while your cat is under general anesthesia. Surgery might be necessary in the case of nasal tumors or polyps. Antibiotics and antifungal medications are required to eliminate the infection, and if the sneezing is caused by dental issues, dental health can be corrected.

If your cat’s health isn’t on par, and she has to undergo surgery or even treatment with antibiotics (which could affect your feline’s companion immune system even more), the animal might also have to receive supportive care consisting of fluids, appetite stimulants, supplements, and sometimes even humidifiers for easing your cat’s nose congestion.

If your cat is diagnosed with a bacterial or fungal infection or the problem consists of a foreign body, vaccination should be performed so as to prevent viral infections in the future.

Recovery

In case the animal is healing from an upper respiratory infection, you have to do your best to strengthen your feline companion’s immune system. You can ensure this by giving him or her high-quality food with appropriate ingredients (and with as little artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors as possible).

If your cat is suffering from a viral infection, you might have to do your best to manage the life-long symptoms that could arise. Keep your house smoke and dust-free and remove any synthetic air freshener you might have used until now. You might also want to consider purchasing an air purifier and humidifier, depending on your cat’s specific disease.

Prevention

As you might expect, the simplest and most effective way to prevent sneezing, as well as a host of other diseases in cats, is to get your pet vaccinated and stick to the schedule implemented by the veterinarian. If your vet advises you to take your cat in for a check-up every six months or once a year, you should listen to his or her advice.

Treating an infection or worse, cancer, can not only be extremely difficult but also very expensive. Both you and your pet will undergo a lot of stress because of the visits you’ll have to make to the clinic, so vaccination is the key to keeping your cat in good health and helping the animal steer clear of viral infections.

Switch to a low-dust cat litter if possible, and clean your house regularly to eliminate airborne irritants. Never use body fragrances or perfume in the same room your cat is. In the winter, if the air gets too dry and you can’t afford to invest in a humidifier, you could place several bowls of water over the central heating system, for example. Smoking is bad for you and your cat, too, so consider quitting or the least you could do would be never to allow your cat to go into the room where you do your smoking.

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