Why is My Cat Sneezing with a Runny, Snotty Nose and Eyes? (cat flu)

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If your cat is experiencing sneezing along with a runny, snotty nose, and watery or crusty eyes, it could be indicative of an upper respiratory infection (URI). URIs in cats are commonly caused by viruses or bacteria, with the most common viral culprit being feline herpesvirus (FHV-1) or feline calicivirus (FCV). These infections are highly contagious among cats and can spread through direct contact, shared bedding, or even through the air.

Here are some possible reasons why your cat might be exhibiting these symptoms:

  1. Viral Infections: Feline herpesvirus (FHV-1) and feline calicivirus (FCV) are common causes of respiratory infections in cats. These viruses can cause symptoms such as sneezing, nasal discharge, watery eyes, and sometimes fever.
  2. Bacterial Infections: Bacterial infections, often secondary to viral infections, can also lead to similar symptoms. Bordetella bronchiseptica and Chlamydophila felis are examples of bacteria that can cause respiratory issues in cats.
  3. Allergies: Cats can also develop allergies to various environmental allergens, such as pollen, dust, or certain types of litter. Allergic reactions can manifest as sneezing, nasal discharge, and eye discharge.
  4. Foreign Body Irritation: If your cat has inhaled or ingested a foreign object, it could irritate the nasal passages and lead to sneezing and discharge.
  5. Other Health Conditions: In some cases, sneezing and nasal discharge can be symptoms of more serious underlying health conditions, such as nasal polyps, tumors, or dental disease.

If your cat is exhibiting these symptoms, it’s essential to consult a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment. Depending on the underlying cause, treatment may include supportive care to alleviate symptoms (such as humidification to help with congestion), antiviral or antibacterial medications, eye drops, and in severe cases, hospitalization for intravenous fluids or additional supportive care.

Additionally, since URIs are highly contagious among cats, it’s important to isolate any sick cats from healthy ones to prevent further spread of the infection. Make sure to keep your cat’s living environment clean and provide plenty of fresh water and nutritious food to support their recovery.

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