Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:
My wonderful 5-year-old kitty started having pretty severe sneezing episodes a few a days ago, and she’s still doing this off and on three or four days later. She doesn’t have any other signs of illness — her appetite is great, she’s playful, she’s not hiding, and she doesn’t have any nasal or eye drainage (I’m an RN, so I know what to look for). But sometimes she’ll sneeze about 10 times in a row! I can’t think of any new causes for irritations in house like using room scents, perfumes or anything like that. Please help.
~ Sue and kitty/sweetie
Siouxsie: Well, Sue, that’s pretty unusual, but there are reasons why cats sneeze other than respiratory infections.
Thomas: Sometimes cats sneeze because they get something stuck in their nose. I know of a cat that had sneezing fits like crazy. His person brought him to the vet, the vet looked in his nose, and pulled out a blade of grass!
Bella: Ew. A blade of grass up your nose? That doesn’t sound like fun!
Siouxsie: Cats also can get seasonal allergies, but usually when cats get those “hay fever” type allergies, they’ll also have clear discharge from the nose and occasionally the eyes as well.
Thomas: If a kitty gets dust in their nose, that can cause sneezing fits, too. Maybe your cat is trying to tell you it’s time to vacuum under the bed?
Bella: Mama hardly ever vacuums under the bed …
Mama: Bella, please! That’s just embarrassing.
Bella: … and I’ve gone under there to explore or to get one of my toys I batted under there, and I grab my toy and along with it comes some cast-off kitty fur, and it makes me sneeze.
Siouxsie: You’d better watch it, kid, or I’ll tell them how you backwash into the kitty fountain.
Bella: Do not!
Siouxsie: Do too.
Bella: Do not!
Mama: Ladies, please!
Thomas: Anyhow, Sue, another thing to watch out for is that a kitty cold can start out with sneezing and then progress on to more of a viral respiratory infection. And if she has something stuck in her nose, it may cause irritation, which can result in truly frightening things like bloody sneezes!
Siouxsie: So the bottom line is, even though what’s going on with your cat is not likely to be a cold given the lack of nasal and eye discharge, we’d still recommend that you call your vet and bring her in to get checked out.
Thomas: And just as a precaution, please know that although there are some medications that can be used on cats as well as humans, some human medications can be fatal. Just because we’re all mammals doesn’t mean our bodies work in exactly the same way.
Bella: For example, acetaminophen is highly, highly toxic to cats! It causes severe damage to the liver and red blood cells. NSAID pain relievers and fever reducers are also not safe for cats. If your cat needs medication, please consult with your vet before reaching into the medicine cabinet.
Siouxsie: We’re sure you know that, Sue, but Mama recently met a veterinarian who shared a story about an anesthesiologist (for humans). His cat had a fever, so he gave the kitty acetaminophen, and you can probably guess the tragic end of that story. That’s why we always advise professionals in the human medical field to check with a veterinarian to ensure a medication is cat-safe before administering it.
Thomas: So, Sue, we’d definitely recommend a chat with your vet and maybe a brief visit to make sure nothing’s wrong … and if there’s something stuck in her nose, the vet can get it out.
Bella: Have you other readers ever had a cat that had sneezing fits without discharge or other symptoms of illness? Did you ever find out what caused it? What did your vet suggest to make sure your kitty’s sneezing was kept to a minimum? Share your ideas in the comments!