Your Sneezing Cat is usually telling you that there is an irritation with his nasal passage. Sneezing is a reflex that results from stimulation of the lining of the nose. If your cat sneezes off and on for several hours but shows no other signs of an illness, his symptoms may be due to minor nasal irritation or allergy. Sneezing which continues throughout the day may be the initial signs of a viral upper respiratory infection.
If there is a foreign material in the nasal cavity, your cat will experience bouts of violent sneezing along with head shaking and pawing at the nose. The foreign material might have sneezed out, but the irritation caused by it will most probably result in continued sneezing.
Some bacterial infections in the nasal passages and frontal sinuses also produce bouts of sniffling with the sneezing, accompanied by nasal discharges. These particular diseases tend to become chronic.
Reverse sneezing in cats is a condition that will rarely indicate a foreign body trapped at the back of the nasal cavity. However, it will alarm us because to the human ear it sounds worse than it actually is (in most cases). It sounds as though there is something caught in his air passages, but it is usually due to a temporary spasm of the throat muscles. An accumulation of mucus or an irritation at the back of the throat is probably the initiating factor.
Some of the main causes of sneezing in your cat are:
Foreign Bodies in the Nose
These can include grass seeds, straw, string, wood splinters, and sometimes an insect. The most pronounced sign of a foreign body in the nose is violent sneezing at first and intermittent later on, with pawing at the nose. Reverse sneezing along with attempts to clear the throat usually suggest a foreign object trapped at the back of the nasal cavity.
A cat with a foreign object in his nose might squint his eye or tilt his head to the side that is affected. He also might drop his head to the floor with his neck extended, while making deep inhaling efforts. If the foreign objects are allowed to remain longer than a day or two, they could be associated with a secondary bacterial infection.
Periodic occurrences of sneezing that last a short time could be the result of a nasal allergy in your cat. At times they are joined by a clear watery discharge from the nose. They commonly occur on a day-to-day basis and are caused by an environmental irritant or allergen. This type of allergy (called rhinitis), will respond well to medications containing a steroid and antihistamine.
The most common cause of a nasal infection in the cat is a feline viral respiratory illness. You can determine if both nostrils are involved or if other cats in the house exhibit the same symptoms of sneezing, nasal discharge, noisy breathing, and mouth breathing. The nasal discharge is watery at first but soon becomes yellow and thick. Viral respiratory infections are also accompanied by fever, tearing, redness and discharge from the eyes, ulcers on the tongue, cough, and lethargy.
Bacterial infections originate when the nasal lining has been injured by a foreign body or a blow to the nose, or by a prior viral upper respiratory disease. The most common sign of bacterial involvement of the nose is a nasal discharge which is thick and. creamy yellow. A bloody discharge indicates ulceration of the lining membrane.
The major sinuses in the cat are the frontal. Because respiratory infections are fairly common in the cat, secondary infections of the frontal sinuses occur with some frequency. The signs of chronic bacterial infection are an ongoing nasal discharge accompanied by frequent sneezing and sniffling. Upon further inspection, an X-ray might show an increased density in one sinus. The cat may appear to have a headache and sit with his head hanging and his eyes partially closed. This will usually be followed by diminished appetite and weight loss.
Nasal Polyps and Tumors
Benign and malignant tumors are found in the nasal cavity and sinuses, most frequently on just one side. Sneezing and sniffling are early signs. This will be followed by obstructed breathing or possibly bleeding in the affected nostril.
A polyp is a growth that starts out as an enlargement of one of the mucous glands. It is not cancerous. It usually appears like a cherry on a stalk. Polyps and small tumors should be removed by your veterinarian.
Large tumors are more serious and make one side of the face protrude more than the other. If they extend beyond the eye, they will bulge. These tumors are advanced and treatment is most often not possible.
Pay close attention to your Sneezing Cat He might require closer observation by your vet.
References: The Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook by Delbert G. Carlson, D.V.M and James M. Giffin, M.D. - First Edition
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