Causes of Cat Sneezing

Cat sneezing can have a number of causes. Sometimes, cats sneeze from irritation in the nasal passages. Some causes of sneezing in cats are serious while others are not. Here's what you need to know about cat sneezing.

Causes of Sneezing in Cats

Most cases of cat sneezing are caused by upper respiratory infections. Very young and very old cats are most vulnerable to such infections. The most common cause of sneezing in cats is the feline herpes virus, which causes upper respiratory symptoms including sneezing and nasal discharge. Bacterial infection can also cause sneezing in cats.

Other causes of cat sneezing include allergies, irritants such as dust or smoke, a foreign object such as a seed lodged in the nasal passage, nasal polyps, nasal cancer, or fungal infection. The inhalation of mold, pollen, and dust is one of the most common causes of intermittent cat sneezing. Cleaning supplies and aromatic household items, such as perfumes, can cause your cat to sneeze.

Complications from dental disease can also cause cat sneezing symptoms. When a cat's gums and teeth become infected, this infection can spread to the nasal passages. Redness and swelling of the gums can indicate a dental infection.

Diagnosing the Cause of Cat Sneezing

A physical examination will be necessary to diagnose the cause of your cat's sneezing behavior, as well as a medical history. Other signs, such as nasal discharge, eye discharge, bloody discharge, fever, loss of appetite, and sores or lesions in the mouth can indicate an upper respiratory infection. If your cat displays head shaking or nose pawing behavior, he may have a foreign object lodged in his nostril. If the sneezing occurs intermittently, occurs only at certain times of year, or appears to be accompanied by itching, then allergies could be to blame for your cat's sneezing.

Your vet may perform a number of tests to determine the cause of your cat's sneezing. They include:

  • A microscopic exam of nasal secretions
  • A bacterial culture of nasal secretions
  • A biopsy of the nasal tissue
  • A rhinoscopy, or examination of the nasal tissue, with an endoscope
  • An x-ray or CT scan may detect cancer or dental infection (This usually requires anesthesia)
  • A platelet count may be necessary if your cat's nasal discharge is bloody
  • A fungal serology test can determine if your cat's sneezing is the result of a fungal infection

Treatment of Sneezing in Cats

The treatment of cat sneezing symptoms depends on the cause of the sneezing. Some diseases, such as feline herpes virus, which cause sneezing in cats, cannot be cured; supportive treatment, however, can help your cat recover from the symptoms though he'll remain infected with the virus and may suffer future outbreaks. Dental treatment, antiobiotics, and antifungal medications are some of the options for the treatment of cat sneezing symptoms.

Chemotherapy and radiotherapy may be needed to treat cancer in cats. Surgery can remove foreign bodies. Allergies can be treated with medication and by the removal of allergens from the environment. Vaccinations are valuable for the prevention of viral infections.