Sneezing in cats is almost always associated with nasal discharge, and outside of coughing, is perhaps the most dangerous sound you will ever hear from your cat.
All cats will sneeze occasionally as well as have a nasal discharge, but if it becomes severe, chronic or reoccurring, it should signal you that there is an underlying problem.
Unfortunately for some cats, especially older cats, the underlying problem is usually something very sinister.
For this reason, sneezing in cats should be treated with a sense of urgency and immediately check your cat for any type of a nasal discharge.
Cats by nature are extremely meticulous, and if you do not check very quickly, the early warns signs of a discharge may go unnoticed.
Sneezing in cats is a reflex of their upper airways, and is meant to activate irritating material from their nasal cavities.
In most all cases, this activation is explosive in nature and you will be able to see the discharge.
If there is no discharge at all, it is usually a one and done type of occurrence and you have nothing to worry about.
However, if a discharge is present, it is usually the sign of an irritation, the beginning stages of a nasal disease, or something much more sinister.
Finding the nasal discharge at first may be very difficult as your cat will quickly lick away any secretions, but if it does intensify, it will build in volume.
Once this occurs, the type of discharge will also begin to change and you will also be able to see secretions start to accumulate on your cat’s nostrils or their surrounding hair.
If it does become severe, you will also see what is referred to as nasopharynx, which is a retching or reversed form of sneezing.
The nasal discharge that will accompany the sneezing will come from several sources that will include mucous cells as well as glands in your cats nose.
These secretions will in most every case move away from the nostril by small hair projections.
When these secretions reach the point where your cats nose cavity meets their throat, they are swallowed by your cat.
Once they accumulate, they start to become an obstruction to normal drainage, prompting the sneezing.
Nasal discharge comes from several sources, including mucous cells and glands in the nose.
Secretions usually move caudally (away from the nostril) by the mucociliary apparatus (small hair-like projections) and when they reach the nasopharynx (where the nasal cavity meets the throat) they are swallowed.
When secretions accumulate to the exterior, it suggests that there is an increased production of secretions or an obstruction to drainage.
Sneezing in cats and nasal discharge can and does affect cats at any age, but young cats are more susceptible.
The reason for this is that they more often subject to or exposed to viruses or birth defects that will prompt the sneezing or discharge.
Birth defects include cleft palate, ciliary dyskinesis, which is a deformity in the respiratory system, as well several potential drainage problems.
However, older cats are also affected and it is usually caused by some type of a chronic dental disease or something much more sinister; tumors.
Outdoor cats are also much more prone simply because they are a lot more likely to accidentally inhale some type of a foreign object.
Sneezing in cats has several potential symptoms other than the two most obvious.
If you see any of them in combination with the sneezing and discharge, they are real danger signs.
The first symptom will be your cat suddenly starting to rub or paw at their nose, which is usually quickly followed by gagging.
This is usually the result of the next symptom, which is excessive swallowing caused by the post nasal dripping that is occurring.
However, if it becomes severe enough, you may also start to see bleeding form one or both or your cats nostrils, as well as a very foul odor coming from their nose or mouth.
Once this occurs, you will be able to hear your cat breath as it will become a noisy form of breathing.
But there is one other symptom that is something you absolutely hope you do not see; swelling over the bridge of their nose.
It may be something very simple that is cause by a foreign object, or it may be cancer as tumors have now developed.
Sneezing in cats has several potential causes and they will range from quite harmless to potentially becoming deadly.
The first potential cause may be from some type of a foreign object or a traumatic event.
However from there it becomes much more serious, as the next list of potential causes are usually from a viral or bacterial infection, or from and infectious disease.
Infectious diseases are almost always a fungal disease and include Aspergillus, Penicillium, or Sporothrix.
The next set of potential causes are nasal mites which can be very destructive if not treated, and dental diseases that usually involve infections in the roots of your cats teeth.
However it may also be from inflammatory diseases of the nasal cavity.
The most common inflammatory nasal disease is lymphocytic rhinitis, which is an immune response of your cats lining in their nasal cells.
However, it can also be caused by some type of allergic reactions that your cat is having.
Congenial diseases that may be the actual cause include ciliary dyskinesis which is a lack of normal microscopic hairs in your cat’s nasal area.
It may also be from a cleft palate which allows food to leak from your cats mouth to their nose.
Imperforate posterior defects are nasal discharges that cannot properly drain in your cat.
However, there are also some potentially deadly causes that may be starting the sneezing process.
They include polyps, which are inflammatory but benign growths, or it could also be tumors that are cancerous and include mast cell tumors.
It may also be the result of some type of bleeding disorder your cat has developed.
Sneezing in cats will happen to every cat at some point in their life but it is usually a very rare occurrence.
Coughing in cats is perhaps the scariest sound you will ever hear from your cat, but sneezing is a very close second.
If it does occur, quickly check your cat’s nasal cavity and listen for it to occur again.
If it happens again and becomes repetitive, you may have a very serious situation developing in your cat.