My Cat Is Always Sneezing. Help!

Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

My cat Mary is sneezing and sneezing. Sometimes she has a clear runny nose. The vet has treated her with three different types of antibiotics, and has even given her steroids and an allergy shot — and she’s still sneezing! She was tested for feline leukemia and FIV, and both tests were negative. I had a scope put up her nose to see if there was anything in there that was causing irritation. The vet found nothing, and Mary is still sneezing. Any ideas?

~ Sharon

Siouxsie: You’ve certainly done all the right things, Sharon, and we commend you for that. This must be tremendously frustrating for you and for your kitty!

Thomas: If she’s been on several rounds of antibiotics, that would most likely rule out any bacterial infection.

LOLcat-sneezingSiouxsie: Antibiotics don’t treat viruses, though, so if your kitty has some kind of chronic viral infection like feline herpesvirus (also known as feline viral rhinotracheitis), which can come and go, that could still be causing problems.

Thomas: But as you’ll see if you click on the link in Siouxsie’s answer, herpesvirus infections often involve purulent eye discharge as well as sneezing.

Siouxsie: We assume your vet has ruled out herpesvirus and other chronic infections, since it seems he or she has been very thorough in trying to figure this out.

Thomas: In that case, she may be sneezing so much because there’s something in her environment that’s causing an allergic reaction.

Siouxsie: Has Mary always been sneezy? If not, about when did it start? Did you change something back then? For example, did you move to a new house? Start using a new laundry detergent, cat litter or air freshener? Bring in a new carpet? Change your heating or air conditioning system?

Thomas: Is your cat’s sneezing worse at different times of the year? If so, she may be suffering from hay fever (hey, don’t laugh — cats can get hay fever).

Siouxsie: Does she sneeze more after she’s used the litterbox? If so, the dust may be bothering her.

Thomas: There are some things you can do to keep the allergens in check, which may make Mary’s life easier and more sneeze-free.

Siouxsie: First of all, stop using any kind of scented detergents, fabric softeners, dryer sheets, plug-in or spray air fresheners. They might smell nice to you humans, but our noses are much more sensitive than yours — and to us they reek!

Thomas: If you smoke in your house and you’re not ready to quit, we’d strongly recommend that you only smoke outdoors. Cigarette smoke is very irritating even for kitties that don’t have allergies. You probably should cut out burning incense, too.

Siouxsie: Use a scent-free cat litter that’s as dust-free as possible. Usually the pellet types are the least dusty and clay litters are the most dusty. However, a lot of the organic-based litters like wheat-, pine- and corn-based can be very dusty, too.

Thomas: If you’re into using non-clay litters and want to keep the dust to a minimum, try Blue Naturally Fresh. It’s made of walnut shells, and Mama’s been using the multi-cat clumping formula with us. It’s almost totally dust-free, it clumps like concrete, and it works really well to keep the odors down.

Siouxsie: We’d recommend that you invest in a high-quality air purifier and put it in the room where your cat spends the most time. This will filter out most environmental contaminants such as mold, pollen and dust mites.

Thomas: A humidifier might also be a good idea. If she’ll tolerate it, you could even bring her in the bathroom with you while you take a shower so she can breathe some nice warm steamy air.

Siouxsie: One more thing to consider: If your vet hasn’t already looked in your cat’s mouth to see if her teeth are OK, you might have him or her do that. Sometimes cats sneeze a lot because they get dental abscesses which can irritate the sinuses.

Thomas: Good luck, Sharon. We hope you and your vet can help your sneezy girl be less sneezy.

Siouxsie: And just to close this off on an amusing and cute note, here’s a video compilation of sneezing cats:

(In a reader? Watch the video here.)

  • C

    My sickly little boy Gargoyle had been sneezing quite a bit. My vet recommended giving him 125 mg L-Lycsine to help bolster his immune system. Maybe that would help your baby? I crush a pill up & mix it in his canned food.

  • Dee

    I would strongly recommend a holistic vet. Homeopathy can be of tremendous help in cases like this.

  • Meowmy

    L-Lysine also comes in a beef tasting paste/gel form that is easy to give. You can get it a most high-end pet stores adn online. It helps boost the immune system. In rescue we often give it to kittens and to our recovering cats.

  • Susan

    You can buy Viralys – which is powdered Lysine – online. It’s not too expensive and most cats do not mind the flavor. At home I mix it in with canned food. At the shelter where I volunteer, I mix a bit in water and use a syringe for one of our kitties to drink from. She actually likes it!

  • Barb

    I had a cat who used to sneeze and also lick the pads on his paws. I figured he had allergies like me so I got him some Natural Balance allergy cat food with mostly just green pea & chicken in it and he stopped sneezing and licking. The limited ingredient diets can really help reduce the chances of cats reacting to cat food ingredients, as some brands put all sorts of bad things in their food. Getting your cat on the right natural cat food can do amazing things for his health.

  • Suzy

    That’s crazy stop smoking in your own home because your cat is sneezing or using the products you’ve used for years? Come on ! This is why cats wind up in shelters it’s a cat ! Not a baby!