A sneezing cat is not unusual. Just like humans, they can get something stuck up in their noses or their membranes can become inflamed or irritated and sneezing is the quickest and most efficient way to clear it. Some breeds just sneeze more often than others. No one really knows why, but breeds with short nasal passages and flat faces, such as Persians, end up sneezing more than other breeds of cats.
In many cases, an allergen is the culprit. Approximately 15% of all cats have some form of allergy. Most likely, these are due to:
- Insects – Fleas are the most, as the flea’s mouth saliva can trigger an allergy. Even when the fleas are killed, itching can continue for some time.
- Airborne Allergens – The same allergens that give us hay fever can cause allergies in cats too, including pollen, grass and mold.
- Food & Drugs – Cats can be allergic to certain foods and medications, including some vaccinations.
If your cat is sneezing because of an allergy, you may notice other symptoms as well, including your cat constantly licking his paws, rubbing his face or coughing. These aren’t always present, but may be. Your cat may also get hives that appear roughly half an hour after exposure to an allergen. The hives can appear anywhere on your cat and go away after a day. The cause of hives can include insect bites, new foods, a drug or vaccination or insecticides used to treat your lawn.
If you suspect the sneezing is caused by an allergy, try to determine the cause first. If you’ve changed something in the home – the cat’s litter or food, used an insecticide around the house, etc., – eliminate them and see if your cat feels better. If it’s the food, your vet may recommend a little Milk of Magnesia to clear the tummy out more quickly. Benadryl and cortisone treatments can also be employed. A veterinarian needs to administer these. Don’t try to do it yourself.
If your cat is suspected of having an infection, isolate him from any other animals as the infection can be contagious. You’ll probably also want to keep the kids away as well, as some bacteria and even viruses can be spread through contact to humans.
An abscess in the upper jaw can also cause sneezing. It can spread into the nasal passages, causing them to swell and close.
Another cause can be dust and mites. When stirred up in the litter box, these can be inhaled by your cat or get into the fur. Keeping the litter box clean is the best way to solve this problem and don’t use the litter in the bottom of the bag – it’s usually mostly dust. Cat like a clean box and this may even eliminate some behavioral problems as well, such as spraying or going to the bathroom elsewhere in the home.
Finally, you’ll want to check your cat’s nose to see is something is lodged up in it. This is particularly true if your cat is sneezing constantly. They may be trying to expel the object. If you’re unable to get the object out or if it appears to be too far up the nostril, you’ll want to take your cat to the vet as soon as possible, especially if it is stressing your cat out or they are having trouble breathing.
As usual, keeping track of your cat’s personality and knowing his behavior is a good way to tell if something is wrong. If your cat sneezes occasionally it’s not a big deal. But if he suddenly starts sneezing when they never did or the sneezing just gets worse, it could be a symptom and not just a sneeze.