Feline sneezing can happen for a lot of reasons. Sometimes cat sneezing can be a sign of cat health problems, but often it's nothing to worry about.
This page goes through the different reasons why cats may sneeze, and tells you what you should do if your cat has started to sneeze a lot and you're not sure why.
1) Is Kitty's sneezing more frequent than normal?
Some cats will naturally sneeze much more than others. Breeds with flat faces - e.g. the Persian cat - tend to sneeze more than average because their nasal passages are small and don't drain very easily.
When you're trying to decide if Kitty's sneezing is something to worry about, compare it to what he's usually like. If his sneezing suddenly becomes much more frequent than normal, he could have a problem.
2) When is Kitty sneezing?
Like humans, all cats will sneeze from time to time. The occasional sneeze with no other symptoms is nothing to worry about - chances are Kitty has got something up his nose while he's been sniffing round and is sneezing to get rid of it.
It's worth seeing if your cat tends to sneeze in certain situations or in certain areas, as it may be specific things in the environment that are irritating his nasal passages. For example:
If you think something in the environment could be the cause, if possible remove it and see if there's any improvement.
3) Does he have any other symptoms besides sneezing?
The symptoms that accompany the sneezing will give you (and the vet) the best clues as to the underlying cause. The main causes of cat sneezing (other than things in the environment irritating Kitty's nose are:
Just like humans, cats can develop allergies to things in the environment. Cat allergies can be caused by many different things, and the cause usually has to be figured out by a process of elimination.
If a foreign body (e.g. a piece of pollen or small fragment of cat litter) gets stuck in Kitty's nose, he'll sneeze like crazy to try to get it out. This is often accompanied by excessive shaking of the head and pawing at the nose.
One of the most common causes of feline sneezing is a respitatory tract infection such as flu. In these cases, the sneezing is often accompanied by fever, a thick discharge from the nose and sometimes the eyes, loss of appetite and sores in the mouth.
If you think this is the cause of your cat's excessive sneezing, you should consult a vet. Cats usually recover from respiratory infections on their own but they may need antibiotics to treat secondary infections or special fluids to combat dehydration.
A cat dental health problem - e.g. an abscess or other mouth infection - can cause excessive sneezing if it spreads to the cat's nose.
In this case, in addition to sneezing the cat's mouth may be red and ulcerated, and he may be reluctant to eat and drink as a result.
Cat leukemia and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) both weaken the cat's immune system and makes him more prone to catching infections. Cats with leukemia and FIV often get recurring respiratory tract and sinus infections. Click here for other symptoms of cat leukemia.
Deciding whether feline sneezing warrants a trip to the vet is, in a lot of cases, a judgement call. But if you suspect there could be something seriously wrong - for example...
...You should get him to the vet without delay to rule out any cat illnesses that may be causing it.