Sneezes are the body’s reaction to something irritating the nasal passage, and they work the same way for cats as they do for us humans. Sneezing is natural and might just be a one-off behaviour in your cat, or it might be something trickier like a cold or an allergy that requires veterinary attention. There are a few steps you can take to better understand how to manage a sniffly cat.
Distinguishing between a cold and an allergy
The key to determining if your cat’s runny nose is a cold or an allergy is how often the behaviour occurs and any other symptoms they may show.
Colds. The majority of cat colds result from a viral infection, and they may be accompanied by ocular and nasal discharge, coughing, and, of course, sneezing. As with people, these symptoms usually last about a week or so and are likely to go away without further intervention.
Allergies. Cats can be allergic to a range of things, but allergies that cause sneezing are usually related to your cat inhaling an allergen such as pollen, dust, or synthetic chemicals like perfumes or cleaning products. Unlike with a cold, where the symptoms last for a brief window of time, you are likely to notice a pattern of sneezing if your cat is allergic to something. Logically, if the allergen is taken away, your kitty’s sneezing will stop, too.
How to manage a kitty cold or allergy
If your cat is suffering from congestion due to a cold, treat them as you would want to be treated when you’re sick: keep them warm and comfortable, and consider using a humidifier to ease the congestion.
Likewise, if your cat has an allergy, try to limit their exposure to the allergen. Simple interventions such as using dust-free cat litter (Sanicat’s Clumping litter is just the ticket!) or opening the windows when cleaning to improve air circulation can minimise your cat’s negative reactions.
If your cat’s symptoms persist or become increasingly severe, a visit to the vet may be necessary. The vet will be able to perform tests identifying the type of cold or allergy your cat has and can recommend therapies and medications to help them recover.