Are you finding yourself reaching for the tissue box every time your feline friend lets out a cute, but concerning, sneeze? If you’re noticing your cat sneezing more often than usual, it’s time to take action.
This could be a simple reaction to a speck of dust, or it could indicate something more serious. While it’s crucial to understand when professional care is necessary, it’s natural to want to ease your pet’s discomfort at home.
As a veterinarian, I commonly get asked if there are any effective home remedies for cat sneezing.
As long as your cat is otherwise well in itself, or already have a diagnosis from the vet, here are some solutions to try:
1. Buy a Humidifier
Nasal congestion is never fun, but it can be a real nightmare for our feline friends; cats really aren’t designed to breath through their mouths! Inhaling moist air is super helpful when it comes to thinning and loosening mucus that may be clogging your cat’s nasal passages and sinuses, and will help him or her breath easier and relieve sneezing due to nasal irritation.
For safe use around pets, it’s best to select an ultrasonic humidifier like this one, which provides a cool mist rather than a hot steam.
2. Keep Your Cat Warm and Comfortable
Every poorly pet will appreciate a warm, comfortable place to rest and recover, and cats are no exception; in fact, this species has sleeping down to a fine art! Providing a heated pet bed is a great way to help your cat feel cosy if they have a cold. The speedier your cat’s recovery, the sooner you can except the sneezing to stop.
Because heated pet beds have the potential to cause burns, be sure to select a bed which has been safety tested like this one, and check it over regularly for any faults.
3. Clean Your Cat’s Face Frequently
Cat colds frequently result in a snotty nose and gungey eyes. Not only is this not a good look, it will also lead to sick cats feeling genuinely worse. In severe cases, I’ve seen cat’s eyes practically glued shut and noses completely blocked due to owners struggling to keep on top of their pet’s snot levels.
Again, cats are not designed to breath through their mouths, so it’s really important to keep their nasal passages clear. In addition to use of a humidifier, you can also use wipes and a saline spray or saline nose drops, to clear discharge from your cat’s nose.
Pick wipes that are safe for use on your pet’s face, like these ones….and be sure to avoid the actual eye itself (wipe around, not in, the eyes).
For flushing discharge from the eyes themselves, you can use a sterile saline flush solution of an appropriate dilution (that is, nice and weak, and non-sting-y!). Selecting a product that has been formulated specifically for use in pet’s eyes like this pet-safe eye flush is the best way forwards.
4. Provide High Quality Immune System Support
If your pal is suffering from allergies, a cat cold or rhinitis, taking great care of his or her defence systems will likely help speed recovery. Nutramax Imuquin is vet-formulated, and provides a potent vitamin, mineral and fatty acid complex.
Omega-3 fatty acids promote a healthy immune system, whilst vitamin E enhances lymphocyte function (lymphocytes are a type of white blood cell which are especially important when it comes to fighting off viral infections, such as those that may cause cat flu).
5. Encourage Appetite
Food is probably the last thing on your cat’s mind if they afflicted by frequent sneezing, but maintaining proper nutrition is immensely important when it comes to your cat’s recovery. A cat’s appetite is heavily influenced by scent, and unfortunately a stuffy nose will interfere with your pet’s sense of smell and may leave them uninterested in food.
Simple measures can help here, such as warming the food to make it “stinkier”, and providing a highly palatable diet, energy dense diet such as Purina Pro Plan Critical Nutrition food.
You can also dab a little Vetoquinol Nutri-Cal Gel High-Calorie Supplement on your feline friend’s nose or mouth (he or she will lick it off, and should love it!) This gel is calorie and vitamin dense to speed recovery and support the immune system.
6. Provide a Hygienic Environment
If your sneezing cat is known or suspected to have a URI, it’s ideal to clean his or her bedding regularly on a hot wash, especially if you notice any nasal discharge or eye goo sticking around.
It’s also a great idea to keep your pet’s home environment clean and hygienic using pet safe cleaning products such as lysol pet solutions, which kills 99.9% of viruses and bacteria. Be sure to remove all pets from the area prior to cleaning, and allow surfaces to dry completely before letting pets return. Always use cleaning products exactly as-per the manufacturer’s directions, and don’t use on food bowls or food preparation surfaces.
7. Support Hydration
Not to put too fine a point on it: a dehydrated cat will have thicker, more gluey mucus and nasal discharge compared to a cat who is well hydrated (yuck, but it’s true). Of course, the thicker the snot, the harder it is to shift, so if you have a sick, sneezy cat on your hands, hydration is key.
If (like many cats) your feline family member isn’t much of a drinker, consider acquiring a water fountain bowl. Just one caveat, though: if you suspect (or know) that there is an infectious cause for the sneezing, it may be best to stick to a water bowl that is easier to clean.
You can also offer your cat small amounts of Oralade oral rehydration solution throughout the day. This electrolyte-rich kitty drink will hydrate your cat better than plain water, and it has a palatable, meaty taste to encourage fluid intake.
8. Keep Food and Water Bowls Spotless
Food and water bowls should be kept scrupulously clean if you suspect your cat has a URI, especially if he or she shares with other cats. Clean your kitty’s dining equipment after every use whilst they are sneezing. You don’t need anything particularly fancy for this; hot water, dish soap and a little bit of elbow grease will do just fine; rinse and dry well.
9. Adjust Your Home to Reduce Stress and Anxiety
In most cases, this home remedy costs nothing, and can make a massive difference.
It’s well documented that a cat’s stress levels play a massive part in the strength (or weakness) of their immune system. Generally speaking, stressed cats are immunosuppressed cats! So, to help your sick cat recover as quickly as possible (and to help prevent future illness), make sure your home is as calm and cat-friendly as possible.
Simple measures that will help reduce stress include the following:
- Ensure your house contains at least one litter box per cat, plus one.
- Provide resources (food bowls, water bowls and litter boxes) in areas where there is minimal traffic from humans.
- If your house is home to more than one cat, conduct an honest assessment of who does (and doesn’t) enjoy each other’s company. Enlist the advice of your vet or an accredited behaviorist if you’re not fully confident that every “housemate” is getting on.
- Hold off on gatherings and building works until your sick cat is feeling better; most cats find unfamiliar individuals entering their home quite stressful, especially if this also involves a lot of noise.
10. Consider Anti-Anxiety Support
In addition to environmental measures, consider adding a calming supplement to your sneezing cat’s daily routine. I regularly recommend Zylkene calming supplement for cats (and small dogs). What sets Zylkene apart from other calming supplements is a nifty little molecule called alpha-casozepine. This naturally occurring milk protein has been shown to significantly improve indicators of anxiety in cats.
Whilst prescription veterinary anxiety medications are sometimes necessary (following a careful risk-benefit assessment), these drugs come with the unescapable risk of side effects. Zylkene on the other hand, has a phenomenal safety profile. So, in practically every case, it’s worth trying Zylkene first.
Finally, these handy capsules can be opened and the contents sprinkled onto your cat’s food…to my mind, this is an absolutely necessity, since little will stress a cat out more than a wrestling match involving a towel and a pill-popper.
What Causes Cat Sneezing?
Just like us, cats sneeze for a wide variety of different reasons. A sneezing cat may indicate anything from an unwelcome grass seed stuck up your kitty’s nose, right through to a nasal tumor at the more severe end of the spectrum.
Let’s take a brief look at some of the possible causes of cat sneezing, before we proceed to discuss the home remedies for cat sneezing which may be able to provide your feline friend with some relief.
Upper Respiratory Infections
Also commonly referred to as “cat colds” or “cat flu”.
If your cat’s sneezing is due to a viral or bacterial upper respiratory tract infection (URI), chances are that the humble sneeze isn’t the only sign you’ve noticed. Affected felines will often arrive in the vet’s office with some combination of runny nose, gooey and/or squinty eyes, mouth ulcers, loss of appetite, lethargy and fever…and understandably, these little guys are often feeling rather sorry for themselves!
A feline upper respiratory infection can range from mild (amenable to treatment with rest and TLC at home), through to severe. In moderate to severe cases, veterinary intervention is absolutely justified.
Rhinitis is a condition where the lining of the nose (the nasal mucosa) becomes inflamed. The inflamed tissues swell, and produce a larger than normal amount of mucusy discharge. As you can imagine, both of these factors make it much more difficult for your cat to breath normally through their nose. Loss of appetite and sneezing can result too, and you may also notice your pal pawing at their nose.
In cats, rhinitis has many possible causes, but the most common cause is actually having (or having previously had) a viral URI. Feline herpesvirus and feline calicivirus are most frequently to blame.
Just like cat colds, allergies can cause rhinitis and – by extension – the urge to sneeze. It’s also entirely possible for feline allergies to cause sneezing in their own right, without the middle step of rhinitis. Kitties that are overly sensitive to dust mites, pollen or mold spores may sneeze as a result of inhaling these (and other) airborne allergens. Such allergies are often seasonal, starting in spring and sticking around like a bad smell until summer starts to fade.
Something Stuck Up Your Cat’s Nose
Nothing gets a person – or a cat – sneezing quite like a grass seed stuck up the nose! If your feline family member suddenly starts sneezing excessively, especially if they’ve just returned from patrolling the neighbourhood, you may need to consider “nasal foreign objects” (not quite as catchy as “UFOs”)!
Aside from the sudden onset of vigorous sneezing, the telltale sign of an uninvited seed or twig up the nose is nasal discharge from just one nostril, especially a day or two after the object has been inhaled. If you think your cat could have something stuck up their snoot, seek prompt veterinary care; what goes in, must come out!
Of course, indoor cats are less likely to acquire an NFO, but frankly, where cats are concerned, I (like many vets) have learned to expect the unexpected.
Nasal Cavity Tumors
Unfortunately, tumors growing inside of the nose can cause sneezing in older cats. Nasal tumors may also cause nose bleeds, a decrease in appetite, facial pain and difficulty breathing through the nose.
When Should I Seek Veterinary Care?
It’s always appropriate to see a vet if your cat has started frequently or excessively sneezing for the first time. Your vet will need to take a history and examine your cat to get an idea of the most likely cause for the sneezing, and may recommend tests.
If you know why your cat is sneezing (for example, if he or she has previously been diagnosed with allergies, or is currently receiving veterinary care for cat flu), then the following home remedies are appropriate to help ease your pet’s sneezing, in addition to continuing any treatments prescribed by your vet.
Of course, you should always seek immediate veterinary advice if your cat’s symptoms suddenly get worse, or if he or she appears to be having difficulty breathing.