Excessive Cat Sneezing and Nasal Discharge

4 min read




A thorough physical exam is usually sufficient to diagnose an upper respiratory infection. If your cat is not responding to treatment as expected, blood tests, X-rays, and other diagnostic tests may be necessary to determine the underlying cause(s) of a cat’s symptoms and plan more aggressive treatment.


How to Treat a Cat with a Cold


Using a vaporizer that produces warm moist air (or placing the cat in a steamy bathroom) will help the nasal passages and sinuses to drain. If your cat has been diagnosed with a bacterial infection, your veterinarian will probably prescribe antibiotics. The viral infection, meanwhile, will usually be dealt with by the cat’s own immune system.


If your cat is not eating or is dehydrated, he may need to be hospitalized to receive fluid therapy, nutritional support, and other treatments until it is safe for him to come home to continue his recovery.


Other Causes of Cold-Like Symptoms in Cats


Nasal polyps and foreign objects like grass awns—sharp grass seeds that can burrow into a pet's tissues—can cause symptoms similar to a cold, although they often start on one side of the nose and then spread to the other. Allergies, respiratory irritants, chronic infections, and benign or cancerous tumors are other causes of cold-like symptoms in cats.


Living and Management


Once your cat returns home, continue any allergy medication for cats or other therapies as directed by your veterinarian. Also keep your cat’s eyes and nose clean of discharge. Make certain that your cat is eating. Cats who go without food for even a short period of time are at risk for developing hepatic lipidosis, a condition involving the liver that is potentially fatal. Cats who are infected with feline herpes virus or calicivirus may have occasional recurrences of their symptoms.


If your cat’s condition fails to improve as expected, make an appointment with your veterinarian. Additional diagnostic work may be needed.




There are many viruses that can cause upper respiratory infections in cats. Fortunately, there are vaccines available for two of the most common: feline herpes virus and feline calicivirus. Be sure your cat receives the initial series of injections followed by any boosters that are recommended by your veterinarian.


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