This Kitten Sneezes a Lot

Is a kitten is sneezing because of litter or a viral infection? See what CAT FANCY's vet expert thinks.

By Arnold Plotnick, DVM

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Q: My niece has a healthy little male kitten that suddenly began sneezing – a lot.  What would cause this? Could the clumping litter cause this? It creates a lot of dust when the kitten scratches, and is an enclosed litterbox. Could he be allergic to his food or something else?

A: Food allergy wouldn’t cause sneezing in cats. Allergies to food cause skin irritation  and itching, and would be very unlikely in a kitten. The dust from clumping litter might cause a sneeze here and there, but is more likely to cause coughing in cats that are allergic.

Your little kitten most likely has an upper respiratory infection. These are very common in kittens and are usually caused by a virus – the herpes virus, the calicivirus or both. They often result in sneezing, discharge from the eyes and nose, drooling, congestion, fever and poor appetite. The herpes virus is the most common culprit and causes profuse sneezing and sometimes a watery or mucoid nasal discharge. Calicivirus causes milder respiratory signs, however, it can cause ulcers in the mouth and on the tongue, resulting in drooling and difficulty eating.

Conjunctivitis (“pinkeye”) in both eyes often accompanies these symptoms. Conjunctivitis can be viral, but it can also be caused by chlamydophila (formerly called chlamydia), a common bacteria isolated from cats with viral upper respiratory infections. Because your kitten sneezes “a lot,” my best guess is a herpes virus infection. Treatment of URIs requires supportive care, which may include oral antibiotics, antiviral drugs, medicated eye ointments and nutritional supplements such as the amino acid lysine. Fortunately, most kittens recover from respiratory infections.
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This Kitten Sneezes a Lot

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Anon    City, CA

1/8/2012 6:27:24 PM

Good article.

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