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Sneezing Kitty Cats!

A DKC Girl Cuddling A White Cat

If your precious Penelope seems to be besieged by a fit of sneezes lately, don’t be too alarmed. Cats do let out an occasional sneeze… it is quite normal. And just as in humans, her sneeze is an explosive release of air through the nose and mouth (fun fact: human sneezes have been clocked at a speed of about 50 km/h!!) and is often her body’s response to irritants in her nasal passages. So, take a moment to consider a few of the following possible irritants or allergens that may be the source of her sniffles:

  • Does she sneeze after you’ve lit the candles throughout the house?
  • Is she letting out a grand “ATCHOOO!!!” after she’s left her litter box?
  • Is she sneezing when the house is being cleaned or vacuumed?
  • If you’re smoking inside (tsk, tsk), does she sneeze?
  • Does she seem to sneeze according to the change in seasons when there may be increased dust or pollen?

This said, if her sneezing doesn’t subside and/or she has other symptoms along with the sneezing, you may need to set up a visit with her veterinarian. If you’ve noticed any symptoms, such as any swelling of or discharge from her eyes, changes in her energy level, loss of appetite, drooling or coughing… to name just a few… she just might be developing a Feline upper respiratory infection (i.e. cat flu or cold). The causes of the flu are mainly viral but can be bacterial, and sometimes the illness is made worse by secondary bacterial infection. So, a lot like you when you are coughing and spluttering, there is medication to help your kitty feel better until she gets rid of the infection herself. And just as when you get the flu, sometimes antibiotics are needed to combat any bacteria that may be involved.

Know that because cat flu can be highly contagious due to the airborne nature of the virus, you should try to keep her away from other cats (especially kittens) so as to prevent the transmission of the infection. Of course, this is much easier said than done because the average incubation period of the flu is 3-7 days, which means that you will not immediately know that she has the flu and, importantly, that she's also spreading it around. And do your best to keep her airways clear by wiping away dried discharges and other matter from around her nose (this will help her to breathe a little easier). Lastly, try keeping her in a well-ventilated room that’s not too hot and stuffy.

The good news is that if your cat has been vaccinated and does contract the flu, her symptoms will usually be less severe (though no guarantees!) - as there are SOOOO many causes of flu in cats, it is practically impossible to protect her completely with vaccination. These viruses can be present anywhere and travel significant distances, so in fact ANY cat (even indoor, stay-at-home cats) can catch cat flu. Of course, it's absolutely true, too, that catching a cold is more likely where there are many cats around, such as at boarding facilities (catteries), shelters, grooming salons, veterinary clinics, and homes with many cats. So, in the end, no amount of supervision or cleaning can completely and absolutely prevent your cat from catching an airborne disease. There simply is no foolproof protection - it just doesn't exist. Our only real recourse is to be carefully observant of symptoms in our kitties so that we can turn to our vet when needed.


Vaccinations before the stay are a real must to keep cats as protected from cat flu as can be when staying at our facility or any other cattery. Dubai Kennels and Cattery shares a bit more about vaccinations here:

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