“Achoo!” It’s a familiar sound coming from your cat (yet again). If they’re Russian it could be “Apchkhi” or Korean, “Achee”, by the way. The point is this: sneezing in cats is common all over the world.
Most of the time there’s not a lot to worry about, but if sneezing bouts are very frequent, over a day or so perhaps, it might be time to contact your vet.
Find out more about why your cat is always sneezing as we explore the most common reasons for these involuntary releases of air.
The Symptoms of Cat Flu
Cat flu is one of the most common reasons cats sneeze. One of several viruses causes the disease. These include Feline Herpes Virus 1 (FHV1) and Feline Calicivirus (FVC).
Cats can experience similar symptoms to those humans have when they catch flu. These include a fever along with a runny nose and eyes.
Although cat flu is a typically mild illness in healthy cats, it can be serious, especially in kittens or in adult cats with underlying conditions. When cat flu takes hold, as well as sneezing, your cat might experience mouth ulcers, dribbling and even a loss of voice.
Close physical contact between cats enables the spread of cat flu. This typically happens through the sharing of tears, saliva or nasal discharge. As well as this, it can happen through indirect contact related to food bowls, bedding, litter trays or even human hands.
Cat Flu Treatments
When symptoms are severe, your vet may decide to prescribe antibiotics. They may also try to diagnose the type of cat flu your cat has. They’ll do this by taking swabs and carrying out further tests.
Your vet might also prescribe anti-inflammatories as a way to relieve symptoms.
Depending on the virus and your cat’s health, there can be a risk of long-term damage to the eyes.
Eye ulcers, especially in kittens, can end up causing serious problems. They can even lead to the loss of an eye. Your vet might want to prescribe lubricants to treat sore eyes.
Kittens might get some immunity to cat flu from their mothers. That can fade as they age, however. It’s also possible for female cats that have cat flu to pass the infection on to their kittens. They may not even display any signs of illness themselves.
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The Importance of Vaccinations
It is very important that all kittens get their vaccinations against the cat flu viruses. Prevention is always the best course of action. Vaccination courses should begin when a kitten reaches 2 months of age with booster vaccinations given as often as your vet recommends.
It’s especially important to ensure your cat’s bang up to date with their vaccinations if they’ll be mixing with other cats. This could happen if you plan to put them in a boarding cattery while you are on vacation, for example.
Although no vaccines offer total protection, it’s always with getting your cat vaccinated.
Vaccines can help to reduce the symptoms of a cat flu infection.
Looking After a Pet With Cat Flu
More often than not, your vet will recommend that you care for your pet at home.
Stress can worsen your cat’s illness. Always wipe their nose and eyes frequently as this will keep them more comfortable and help them to breathe and eat more easily. You can do this by using a cotton wool pad soaked in warm water.
It’s easy for cats to get dehydrated when they have cat flu. They can also lose their sense of smell. Mix in foods to their usual snacks that are easy to eat and have strong smells. You could try pilchards, sardines and some roasted chicken.
Steam can help to loosen up mucus blocking their airways. Allowing your cat into the bathroom while you’re taking a bath or shower could help them to breathe more easily.
If a cat doesn’t get treated for cat flu, they can get other secondary infections such as pneumonia.
More About the Common Causes of Cat Flu
Feline Herpes Virus 1 (FHV1) tends to be more severe. It is more likely to produce eye ulcers. This virus only has one strain, so vaccination against it is very effective. Once infected with the herpes virus, the chances are a cat will be a carrier for life.
The calicivirus comes in different strains. That makes vaccination tricky because any vaccine will not cover all the strains. Calicivirus can cause mouth ulcers. It can also lead to lameness in young kittens.
Most cats will recover from this form of cat flu and will no longer be contagious after a couple of years.
There are also several types of bacteria that may cause flu. One of these causes kennel cough in dogs. Some experts believe it may be possible for cats to catch this kind of flu from dogs. These bacteria often appear to affect the lungs in particular.
Other Causes of Sneezing in Cats
A broad range of other infections can also cause sneezing. These include:
- Feline infectious peritonitis
- Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)
- Feline leukemia
- Chlamydia, Bordetella and Mycoplasma
If your cat is only sneezing every now and again, something might simply be irritating their nasal passages. Look for patterns in when your cat sneezes because there could be a household irritant that lies behind the problem. These include:
- Certain types or brands of cat litter especially perfumed or dusty varieties
- Mold, pollen and dust
- Perfume candles
- Scents such as aftershave
- Pest sprays
When there’s a connection between sneezing and an allergy, your cat might also experience itchy skin. It’s also not uncommon for cats to experience a sneezing episode a few days after receiving an intranasal vaccine.
An infection or inflammation in the root of a tooth might cause drainage into the sinuses and that can lead to sneezing. In extremely rare cases, sneezing could be a sign of cancer.
Talk to a Qualified Vet
If you have any concerns at all about your cat or find that you’re asking, “Why is my Cat Always Sneezing” more often than usual, it’s time to talk to a vet. One of our qualified veterinary team is always on hand to offer help and support.
A video consultation with one of Cooper Pet Care’s qualified veterinarians is only a few clicks away. Fast, simple, and secure – get the answers you need.
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