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What to Do When Your Cat is Sneezing

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If your cat is sneezing a lot lately, you might chalk it up to allergies. After all, that is often the case for humans. But allergies are not as likely to be the reason your cat is sneezing. Instead, sneezing could be a sign of another illness. Read on to learn what might be the problem and what you can do about it.

Causes of Allergies in Cats

If your cat is sneezing occasionally, or has only been sneezing for a few hours, it’s possible that he or she is simply having an allergic reaction. Cats are far more likely to react to allergens with a skin reaction than by sneezing, but sometimes allergens do affect cats’ respiratory tracts.

Allergens that can cause cats to sneeze include:

  • Smoke
  • Mold
  • Perfume
  • Dust
  • Pollen
  • Pest sprays

If factors involving any of these things have changed recently, it could be the cause of your cat’s sneezing. For example, if you recently lit a candle, or have changed perfume or laundry detergent, your cat could be reacting to that. Pollen could be to blame if the pollen count is elevated in your area. Cat allergies usually only last a day or two. However, if your cat’s sneezing lasts longer than that, you should visit a vet. It could be a sign of other conditions.

The most common cause of sneezing in cats is an upper respiratory infection that can be treated by your veterinarian. Types of infections vary, but the most common infections in cats are feline herpes virus and feline calicivirus.

Feline Herpes Virus

Cats are highly susceptible to this virus, which is passed from cat to cat at animal shelters, kennels, and other facilities in which cats are near one another. Feline herpes is often characterized by red, swollen eyes. While the virus is not communicable to humans, it can be harmful for cats if left untreated. Cats sometimes develop secondary bacterial infections from the virus. If your cat’s eyes become swollen, or if sneezing continues or worsens after a day, it is important to seek treatment at a veterinary clinic as soon as you can.

Feline Calicivirus

Another common cause of feline sneezing is calicivirus, a virus that causes ulceration in the mouth. Like the herpes virus, calicivirus is a disease that is transmitted easily between cats. If left untreated, calicivirus can infect the respiratory tract, causing pneumonia and other infections. Mouth ulcers caused by the virus can become infected. If your cat is sneezing, check his or her mouth for ulcers and visit your vet immediately if you see them.

Other Health Problems

Sneezing can be an indication of other health problems. As in the conditions above, these health concerns are often accompanied by other symptoms besides sneezing, such as:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Diarrhea
  • Changes in behavior (such as fatigue)
  • Fever
  • Yellow mucus

The Bottom Line

If you see any of the above symptoms, or your cat’s sneezing continues or worsens over a few hours or a day, you should take the precaution and visit your veterinarian to find out the cause. Most medical problems that cause sneezing are treatable, but early detection of possible problems is essential for your cat’s health.


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