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4 Reasons Why Cats Sneeze

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When we sneeze, we often explain, “It’s just a tickle in my throat.” Whether caused by a reaction to dust or a common cold, it’s no big deal. But, when our cat starts to sneeze a lot, we may become worried. Does this mean she’s sick? What if she’s allergic to something? 

Here are 4 reasons why cats sneeze.

1) A slight environmental irritation

Just like people do, your cat may have “just a tickle.” She may have inhaled some perfume or room freshener and has to sneeze to clear her nose. Or maybe she accidentally inhaled some dust from her litter box or her outside cat house. For most cats, sneezing is a perfectly normal reaction to slight irritants.

2) Allergies

However, if your cat’s sneezing is accompanied by redness, bumps, crusty skin, or hair loss, she may have an allergy. If your cat has an allergy, she will also be licking and scratching herself more frequently than usual. If you notice these symptoms, take your cat to the vet. A vet can perform skin and blood tests on your cat.

Your cat may be allergic to fleas, to a substance such as wool or cotton, or a specific food. According to Cornell University’s Feline Health Centre, food allergies are the third most common cat allergy. Dr. Carolyn McDaniel, VMD, explains, “We don’t know why this allergy develops. A cat of any age can be affected, and it can occur in a cat that has been on the same diet for years.”

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If your cat has a food allergy, you will need to place him on a “novel diet” of completely new foods for 8-10 weeks. Then, assuming symptoms disappear, you can slowly re-introduce foods from the cat’s original diet to pinpoint the allergen.

3) Foreign objects

Occasionally, cats swallow foreign objects such as blades of grass, tiny sticks, or string. If your cat accidentally swallows something like this, she will probably try sneezing to get it out. If you notice your cat sneezing excessively, you should gently take a look inside her mouth and respiratory tract. If you see a foreign object, you should probably take her to the vet for removal.

4) Infection

Just like humans, cats can catch a minor infection. This may explain why cats sneeze. An infection can produce symptoms of watery eyes, sneezing, congestion, and coughing. They may have Upper Respiratory Infection (similar to a common cold) or even feline viral rhinotracheitis (FVR). If your cat has been sneezing a lot for more than a week, take her to the vet to be examined. Your vet can provide antibiotics and also ensure that your cat’s vaccinations are up-to-date.

How can you prevent your cat from contracting an infection? Catherine Roberts of Consumer Reports recommends, “Consider limiting your cat’s outdoor time. Cats contract many infections through contact with other pets and wildlife.” She added, “Take care of your cat’s oral health. If brushing your cat’s teeth sounds like too much, add dry food to her diet, which can help scrub teeth.” 

Now that you know four reasons why cats sneeze, you’ll be prepared when kitty says “Ah-choo!” Although sneezing in cats is often perfectly normal, you should take your cat to the vet if he or she has been sneezing a lot for more than a week.

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