If the deluge of videos on YouTube is any indication, you'd be hard-pressed to find anything more entertaining than sneezing kittens. Sneezing is normal, even cute, but sometimes it's accompanied by symptoms that signify an allergy, cold or serious condition. If you're concerned, visit a veterinarian.
Sometimes a Sneeze is just a Sneeze
Kittens sneeze to the same effect as cats and their masters. "Just as in humans, sneezing in cats is an explosive release of air through the nose and mouth -- often the body's response to irritants in the nasal passage," according to an article on WebMD, a popular medical reference website. "Sometimes excitement or movement can bring on sneezing in cats." On its own, sneezing signifies little more than a blocked or irritated respiratory system. Paired with other symptoms, it portends a range of health issues.
Sometimes it's an Allergy
Note when and where your kitten sneezes. If there's a common environment or activity that induces or greatly exacerbates sneezing, odds are your kitten is allergic to it. Common allergens that trigger sneezing include smoke, perfume, pesticides, cat litter dust, cleansers, dust, pollen and mold. Limit your kitten's exposure to these, keep her indoors and, if the sneezing stops, you're probably in the clear. If the sneezing continues, it's time to schedule a veterinarian appointment.
Sometimes it's a Cold
Yes, your kitten can catch a cold. If she is sneezing, coughing, has nasal discharge, fevers or conjunctivitis (i.e. discharge or cloudiness around the eyes), it's probably an upper respiratory infection. Common cold symptoms also include drooling, decreased appetite, flaky skin and diarrhea. It's important to check with a veterinarian because secondary infections can develop quickly into pneumonia. You may want to isolate your sick kitten from other cats as most conditions that cause sneezing spread easily.
Sometimes a Cold isn't Just a Cold
If your vet suspects a respiratory infection, he will probably swab your kitten's eyes, throat, or nose for testing. Whether it's viral, bacterial or fungal, infections typically are treated with antibiotics. Nasal decongestants or fluids may be necessary, too. There's also the possibility your kitten has something serious. Sneezing, along with a host of overlapping symptoms, can indicate feline herpesvirus, calcivirus, infectious peritonitis, immunodeficiency virus (the cat equivalent of HIV), leukemia, chlamydia, bordetella and mycoplasma. Treatments and outcomes run the gamut. You can get your kitten vaccinated against some of these diseases. Some cats respond poorly to vaccinations and show similar or sustained symptoms. These usually subside within a week.
- kitten image by mashe from Fotolia.com