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Why is my cat sneezing?

Are you worried about your cat’s incessant sneezing? Let’s take a step back. Are you sure that’s a sneeze? Many cat reflexes like hiccupping, gagging and coughing can all be easily misidentified as a sneeze.

How will you know for sure, then? The best way to allow your veterinarian to make a definitive diagnosis is to record a video of your cat during an episode. With the information, the vet would be better able to provide a correct diagnosis of the issue.

Another challenge to an accurate diagnosis of a cat’s sneeze are the multitude of underlying causes which may cause this. Some common causes are infections, chronic inflammation, dental disease, and even the accidental inhalation of foreign material.

Before we get swept up in the plethora of possibilities, let’s take a look at some possible causes for sneezing in cats.


Respiratory Infections

The most common type of upper respiratory tract infection is the highly contagious feline herpesvirus. It is a major cause of upper respiratory disease in cats and can infect cats of all ages equally. This virus is spread through bodily secretions such as saliva and eye or nose discharge of an infected cat. Unfortunately, this is a lifelong condition as there is currently no known cure for the disease.


Bacterial Infections

Do you notice green or yellow discharge coming out of your cat’s nose or eyes? There’s a high chance your cat has a bacterial infection. In cats, these bacterial infections typically never act alone; they usually occur after a bout of respiratory virus or other causes which have damaged the nasal passages. Bacteria leverage on the decreased barriers of protection and attack the system.


Foreign Material

As you may know, cats are curious creatures and may get into some awkward situations! The inhalation of foreign material like dust balls, stray pieces of plastic or paper shreds may irritate the sensitive nasal passages.

The body’s reflex to expel this foreign material is to heave a giant sneeze, as we humans do. While this reflex may expel smaller particles, larger objects might be lodged more tightly in the passages and may require help to dislodge.


Dental Disease

If your cat is sneezing incessantly and has smelly breath, this could be a symptom of a dental issue. Growths like abscesses or underlying gum disease can easily provoke a sneezing episode in cats. Dental disease in cats can cause major pain and discomfort, which can impact your cat's enjoyment and quality of life. 

Is Cat Sneezing Serious?

This varies - severity of the condition depends on the cause - environmental, or health problem? If the irritants that trigger an episode of sneezing are environmental—like dust, mold, or pollen— it is usually not serious. Often, cat sneezing is chronic and since many causes can be painful, you might want to visit your vet as soon as you notice a problem. 

There’s good news though! Keep your living environment clean and your cat up to date on their vaccinations to prevent severe health issues from developing.

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