Picture this: You’re sitting on your couch watching your favorite TV show. Your lovable kitty is curled up in your lap or lounging on the other side of the room. Without warning, they rear up. Their face scrunches into a strange expression…and they let off a series of powerful sneezes.
If it happens once, watching a cat sneeze can be pretty amusing. It’s also nothing to worry about. After all, you wouldn’t get alarmed if you sneezed once or twice in a row. However, if the problem persists, and your cat continues to sneeze repeatedly, you might be witnessing a sign of a larger issue. Here’s what might be to blame for your cat’s repetitive sneezing.
Inflammation might be why your cat sneezes multiple times in a row every so often. There are a number of reasons that your cat’s nasal cavity may become inflamed. For example, some passing conditions, like allergies or bacterial infections, can contribute to inflammation. The act of a single sneeze can also stimulate inflammation in your cat’s nasal cavity.
The most troubling part of this condition is the difficulty in slowing it. When your cat sneezes, it results in inflammation of the sinus cavity. If that inflammation doesn’t recede quickly, it could cause your cat to sneeze once more. That causes more inflammation. The result is a self-perpetuating cycle that can be challenging for you and frustrating for your cat.
Some evidence suggests that certain anti-inflammatory medications have had a positive impact on sneezing cats. There are also various anti-inflammatory supplements that could help.
Just like in people, cats can start sneezing whenever a foreign material gets stuck in their nasal cavity. No matter what environment they’re in, your cat can inhale a foreign body at any moment. Outdoor cats routinely inhale minute particles of grass and plants. Indoor cats inhale particles of dust and hair.
Most of the time, the smaller things inhaled by your cat can be quickly expelled by sneezing once. However, larger objects can be tougher to eject and may accidentally get stuck. If your cat can’t dislodge the item, they’ll continue to sneeze and sneeze.
If you suspect that some kind of foreign material has gotten lodged in your cat’s nasal passages, a veterinarian can investigate it with a rhinoscopy—a process in which a camera is inserted into the nose of an anesthetized cat. After spotting the obstruction, your vet will remove it as quickly as possible.
Should you be worried?
When your cat starts sneezes continually, it’s only natural to wonder if there is something to be concerned about. By and large, if your cat sneezes once or twice over the course of a few days, it’s nothing to be worried about. If you see them sneeze three or four times in a row in an isolated occurrence, that’s probably fine, too. If your cat continues to sneeze repeatedly over the course of a few days, you should start paying closer attention to the duration and intensity of the episodes. If the sneezing fits persist longer than two or three days, it’s time to schedule a vet appointment.
Although inflammation and foreign materials are the most common reasons your cat may be sneezing consistently, they’re not the only culprits. Serious viral infections and even dental disease can cause sneezing, as well. You’ll want to have these diagnosed as early as possible for your cat’s health and comfort.
If your cat doesn’t appear to be in any pain or discomfort as a result of their sneezing, it might be tempting to let a vet appointment slide. However, if you notice that your cat is overly lethargic, that they’re exhibiting strange litter box habits or that they’re eating less, you could have a larger problem on your hands. You should immediately contact the vet if you spot any of the following symptoms:
- Loss of appetite
- Nasal discharge
- Increase in frequency of sneezes
- Weight loss
- Vomiting or diarrhea
The difficulty in diagnosis
If only our sneezing furry felines could tell us the problem, diagnosing their ailments would be much simpler. Unfortunately, sneezing is somewhat challenging to diagnose in cats. In fact, sometimes sneezing isn’t actually sneezing at all!
Confirming the exact nature of your cat’s discomfort is the first step in diagnosing it. Sometimes, what appears to be a sneeze is actually a cough, gag, reverse sneeze, hiccup or wheeze. You can help your vet diagnose the problem by taking a video of your cat when they’re having a sneezing episode.
The good news is that, by itself, consistent sneezing in your pet is often easily treatable. You just have to stay vigilant about your pet’s health and seek help as early as you can. Your kitty’s sneezing fits should stop in no time!