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Cat sneezing after vet visit – What should I do?

You’ve done everything you are supposed to. You took your sweet feline friend to the vet for their yearly check-up, but now they’re home, they won’t stop sneezing.

Usually, a cat sneezes to expel irritants out of their nostrils. However, if your cat is sneezing continuously or there are other symptoms present, this could be a sign of a medical issue. When your cat sneezes after a vet visit, note when, where, and the sound of the sneeze. 

If you suspect your cat may be ill or there are concerning symptoms accompanying the sneeze, take them back to the vet. 

Otherwise, read on to find out why your cat may be sneezing after a vet visit. 

What does a cat sneeze sound like?

Cats can make a lot of sounds that can be mistaken for a sneeze such as the following:

  • Coughing
  • Gagging
  • Wheezing
  • Retching
  • Hiccuping
  • Reverse sneezing

Since your cat’s diagnosis will differ based on whether they are sneezing or not, you need to verify it is indeed a sneeze. A cat’s sneeze often sounds similar to a human’s sneeze. There is usually some nasal discharge along with a sneeze. But, sometimes the sound may not be as straightforward as you’d think.

If your cat seems to be making a loud, violent honking sound, your cat is likely experiencing reverse sneezing, which is a different issue altogether.

If you are not 100 percent sure your cat is sneezing, record your cat when they make the sound to show to your vet. 

When should you be concerned about a cat sneezing after a vet visit?

If your cat sneezes once or even twice after a vet visit and there are no other symptoms, they are probably just clearing out their nose. Maybe a speck of dust or a strand of fur got in their nostrils. This is of little concern and your cat will act normal and have no other symptoms.

Also, you will want to consider how long after the vet visit the sneezing occurred. If your cat sneezes once or twice right after the visit and then seems fine otherwise, this is probably nothing to worry about.

However, if it’s been 2-3 days and the sneezing is continuing or getting worse, your cat could have caught an illness.

Another consideration you need to make is whether this is the first time this has happened or if this happens most times your cat visits the vet. If your cat tends to sneeze for a couple of days after every vet visit, there may be an irritant at the office bothering your cat. 

If your cat continues to sneeze repeatedly or if other symptoms such as the following occur, be sure to get him checked out by a vet:

  • Watery eyes
  • Nose or eye discharge
  • Coughing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Lethargy
  • Poor appetite

Don’t let these symptoms go too long. If your cat is having an adverse reaction or has contracted a bacterial infection, it needs to be treated as soon as possible. 

Causes of sneezing in cats after a vet visit

There are a few causes of sneezing in cats after a vet visit. These can range from irritations to illnesses. The best way to determine whether or not your cat is ill is to observe their behavior and check for any other symptoms. Cats can be good at hiding illness, so it’s important to get your cat checked if you suspect something more serious is going on. 

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Foreign Objects in the Nasal Passage

One reason your cat may be sneezing after a vet visit is due to a foreign object in their nasal passage. Your cat’s body responds to foreign materials in the nose by trying to dispel them. Dust, pollen, and other tiny objects are generally expelled without problems.

However, if your cat has a larger object in their nasal passage such as a blade of grass or large debris from the vet’s office, they may be having a harder time removing the object. 

If you suspect a foreign object is in your cat’s nose, contact your vet. They can help to remove it. 

Infections

Rhinitis, or inflammation of the cat’s nose, can cause your cat to sneeze. Unlike humans, cats rarely get allergic rhinitis, so the inflammation that makes your cat sneeze is usually due to a viral, bacterial, or fungal infection.

Viral Infections

Your cat may be sneezing after a vet visit because he caught a respiratory illness from the vet’s office. Most of these illnesses are viral infections. Feline herpesvirus is the usual cause of sneezing and discharge from the eyes and nose. This virus is a lifelong illness with no cure, and stress can bring out symptoms. 

Other viral infections such as calicivirus are covered by the FVRCP combo vaccine, so if you keep your cat up-to-date on those, they should be covered. 

Cats can also catch influenza, which presents with similar symptoms. Generally, these viruses need to run their course. Your vet may provide you with antiviral medications or suggest you give your cat pain medicine or antihistamines to alleviate symptoms.

Bacterial Infections 

In addition to viral infections, cats can also get bacterial infections. These cause your cat to have yellow or green discharge from the nose or eyes. Oftentimes, bacterial infections are a secondary illness after a viral infection has compromised the cat’s immune system. The most common bacterial infections that affect the nose and cause sneezing are

  • Bordetella
  • Mycoplasma
  • Chlamydia

Bacterial infections need to be treated with antibiotics. 

Fungal Infections

Cryptococcus is a fungus that can infect your cat’s nose, causing them to sneeze. This infection can be really painful for your cat. The only way for your doctor to determine the difference between viral, bacterial, and fungal infections is to perform an examination. 

By looking into the nasal cavity with a rhinoscopy or taking a biopsy, your vet will be able to determine whether your cat has a fungal infection.

Asthma

Cats, like humans, can develop asthma. Feline asthma is when a cat exhibits respiratory distress because their immune system has overreacted to an allergen. The immune reaction causes inflammation that can block your cat’s airways.

Generally, cats with asthma make a wheezing, gagging, choking, or coughing sound that can sometimes be confused with sneezing. It also sometimes sounds similar to a cat expelling a hairball. However, when your cat is having an asthma attack, he will hunker down low and extend out his head and neck. 

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In addition to making a distressing sound, your cat may also gag, vomit, or sneeze. Foamy mucus may also come out of your cat’s mouth.

Asthma attacks are a serious matter. If you believe your cat is having an asthma attack, take him to the vet as soon as possible. 

Tumors

A cat can also have a neoplasia, or tumor, causing their sneezing issues. Cancer cells can grow inside the nasal passage causing inflammation and irritation. Your cat may sneeze due to this irritation. A vet can determine whether your cat has neoplasia by conducting a nasal biopsy. 

Strategies for addressing sneezing in cats

When your cat is sneezing after a vet visit, there are some ways to help alleviate their symptoms. First and foremost, you should always consult your vet before giving your cat any medications or natural remedies. They will give you instructions on how to treat your cat’s specific illness.

Treatments

Your vet may prescribe your cat the following treatments for sneezing:

  • NSAIDs
  • Antihistamines and decongestants
  • Antinausea medications
  • Eye and nose drops
  • Antiviral medications
  • Antibiotics.
  • Steroids
  • Nasal lavage (flushing the nasal passages under anesthesia)
  • Surgery

Based on the severity and cause of your cat’s illness, you can work with your vet to find the best treatment plan. 

Care at Home

If your cat is sneezing after a vet visit, you can help relieve their symptoms at home. A humidifier can be used to clear congestion. 

Simply put your cat in a small room with a cool-mist humidifier. This should help break up the congestion and moisten the tender nostrils and eyes. This treatment should only be used on cats with mild symptoms.

Also, if your cat is experiencing discharge, wipe their eyes and nose to remove it. This will help them to see and breathe better while they battle their illness. As the discharge seeps from their eyes and nose, take a warm, wet cloth and gently remove the discharge. 

Consulting with a veterinarian

It is incredibly important to take your cat back to the veterinarian if they are experiencing symptoms of illness. If your cat is sneezing after a visit to the vet, you must communicate this to the vet so that they can figure out what is causing the issue and resolve it. It may be as simple as a perfume or air freshener that bothers your kitty.

However, there could be more serious underlying conditions causing your cat’s irritation, as well. So, discussing these symptoms with your vet is the best way to get answers and help your cat. 

Conclusion

Although an occasional sneeze after a vet visit isn’t anything to be worried about, if your cat is experiencing other symptoms of illness like coughing, nose or eye discharge, or lethargy, you should take your cat back to the vet for reevaluation. 

Your cat could be reacting to an allergen in the office. Alternatively, they could have contracted an illness. Sneezing may even be a sign of a more chronic condition like asthma. 

The best way to ensure that your cat stays healthy is to remain diligent and to keep an eye on your cat anytime he seems to be acting oddly. A vet will be happy to put your mind at ease, and your cat will appreciate your love and attention to their health needs.