Feline Sniffles : Cat Sneezing & Runny Nose

A common question most cat owners eventually ask is “What causes a cat to have a runny nose?”. Unlike dogs, it is far less common to see a cat with a very wet or runny nose, so when it does happen, most people aren’t sure what to do about it. The discharge can be clear, gray, green, or even bloody. You will need to play detective to know if it is a health concern or just the basic sniffles. Below are common causes of a runny nose.

Causes of Nasal Discharge In Cats

  • Bacterial Infections
  • Upper Respiratory Infection
  • Fungal Infection
  • Nasal Polyps (benign growth)
  • Nasal Tumors (benign or cancerous)
  • Object Stuck In Nasal Cavity (dust, sand, hair, dirt, litter, food, seeds, ect.)
  • Head Trauma
  • Allergies
  • Pneumonia
  • Cleft Palate (deformity in the roof of the mouth)
  • Tooth Root Abscesses
  • Cheyletiellosis (skin mites)

Cat Colds

If you suspect the nasal discharge to be caused by a cold, make sure they stay hydrated, and your cat should feel better in a few days. To help, get some unflavored Pedialyte and mix a few spoons into their water. You can also add it to wet food. Only give them this for a maximum of 4 days.

Cat Allergies

For allergies, if they are not severe, you can just make sure your cat is comfy until they feels better. You will have to figure out the allergy to help ease the symptoms. Some cats are allergic to certain cleaners, plastics, perfumes, and foods. If your cat is an indoor/outdoor cat, keep them in for a good week and see if the symptoms get better or worse. If they get better, it is likely due to a grass, plant, chemical, or pollen allergy. If they become worse, you will have to keep track of everything you use inside the home to determine the cause.

When To See A Veterinarian

Depending on the severity of the discharge and whether or not other symptoms are present, in many cases the issue will resolve on its own in a few days in healthy adult cats. If your cat has had a runny nose for more than a few days, a vet check up may be in order, especially if other symptoms are present. 

If your cat has a runny nose accompanied by one, a few, or all of these symptoms, take them to the vet right away.

  • Lethargic (very sleepy/weak)
  • Dizziness
  • Minimal or Absent Appetite
  • Constipation/Diarrhoea
  • Dehydration
  • Watering Eyes
  • Blood (in nose, mouth, ears, eyes, urine, or feces)
  • Wheezing or Laboured Breathing
  • Fever/Chills
  • Excessive Sneezing

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