Around this time of year, spring blooms are in full swing, windows are open, and more people are enjoying the fresh air. Unfortunately, this also means seasonal allergies are more common, in both people and their pets.
During this time, your cat may begin sneezing more than usual. While the occasional sneeze is nothing to fret about, consistent sneezing is usually indicative of some sort of health issue.
In many cases, springtime sneezing is due to seasonal allergies. However, this isn’t always the case, so it’s important to be able to tell the difference.
When your cat suddenly starts sneezing when it is exposed to outdoor substances like pollen, dust or mold, it can be easy to blame allergies. Seasonal allergies can occur in cats and are triggered by an immune response to an unharmful allergen.
Most often, cats will experience atopic dermatitis—itchy, inflamed skin—from allergic reactions, but some cats can develop respiratory reactions, as well. These might include excessive sneezing and runny eyes.
Cats can also develop asthma, which can cause labored or wheezy breathing when they come in contact with an allergen that irritates their respiratory system.
If you suspect your cat is experiencing seasonal allergies, you should take it to the vet to get tested and identify its specific allergy. It might be pollen from a plant outside, or it could be something you’re using inside your home, such as perfume or household cleaners.
Using allergy relief supplements may help alleviate your cat’s seasonal allergy symptoms. You may also need to install an air filter to keep your home allergen-free and make sure your kitty has an area of the home to seek relief in without open windows or allergens flowing through.
Aside from allergies, though, there are quite a few health issues that might cause your kitty to experience consistent sneezing. Some of these ailments could be more serious if they are not treated, so it’s very important to know their distinct signs and seek veterinary help as soon as possible so your kitty can breathe easily once again.
One of the most common causes of sneezing aside from allergies is upper respiratory infections. Cats can develop respiratory infections, or colds, by coming in contact with certain bacteria and viruses, such as feline herpes virus and feline calicivirus.
Kitty colds are not usually immediately life-threatening, but they can develop into more serious conditions like pneumonia if they aren’t treated.
In addition to sneezing, you’ll be able to tell if your cat has a cold if it also has a runny nose and/or eyes (with clear, white, yellow or green discharge), coughing, a reduced appetite and lethargy. Some cats may even run a fever caused by the illness.
These symptoms differ from allergies in that allergies do not usually produce nasal or ocular discharge and coughing. This is an important distinction so you know what kind of illness your cat may be dealing with.
Treating feline respiratory infections usually involves wiping the nose and eye area with a clean, damp washcloth to clear away discharge and encouraging the cat to eat and drink as much as possible so it doesn’t get dehydrated or lose a lot of weight. A vet visit may be necessary if symptoms don’t clear up in a day or two, since the infection may require medication to truly go away.
Other causes of sneezing
There are also a few less-common causes of sneezing in cats that you may need to watch out for. Your cat may begin sneezing a lot if it suffers from periodontal disease; rotting teeth can introduce bacteria to the nasal cavities and cause sneezing. Symptoms of this condition may include difficulty eating, foul breath, drooling and redness or bleeding of the gums.
Foreign bodies, like grass, as well as tumors in the nose can also result in regular sneezing as they irritate the nasal passages.
In general, if you notice that your cat is sneezing more, pay close attention to it to see if it’s experiencing other symptoms of illness. Aside from coughing, discharge and lethargy, try to note any changes in behavior, diet, bathroom and other daily routines, since these could indicate an illness.
If your kitty’s sneezing isn’t alleviated within a few days, make sure to take it to the vet to have its condition diagnosed and treated before it transforms into something more severe.