A closer look: Reverse Sneezing in Cats
Though the noises and body movements a cat makes during a reverse sneeze seem alarming, reverse sneezing is nothing to be worried about. Reviewing videos that show examples of reverse sneezing is helpful for identifying it when it occurs. Like regular sneezing, reverse sneezing may occur in any type of cat at any given time.
The potential underlying causes of excessive reverse sneezing are not usually serious. Diagnosis and successful treatment for underlying causes reduces the frequency and severity of bouts of reverse sneezing, and may eliminate it.
There is no reason to try to stop a reverse sneezing episode because it does no harm to the cat. Inducing the cat to swallow may clear the irritation. Methods to induce swallowing include massaging the cat’s throat and momentarily blocking the cats nostrils.
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The cause of reverse sneezing in cats is irritation of the nasal cavity or soft palate.
Infrequent spells of reverse sneezing in cats are part of the body’s normal defense mechanism. Excessive reverse sneezing results from nasal mites, allergies, or frequent exposure to airborne irritants. In rare cases, severe reverse sneezing results from serious underlying issues like dental disease or nasal tumors. These conditions present with other, more serious symptoms, not only reverse sneezing.
Testing and diagnosis
It is difficult for pet parents who have never seen a reverse sneeze to distinguish it from other, more concerning symptoms such as coughing or choking.
Occasional reverse sneezing is normal. If it persists or increases in severity, diagnostics may be indicated to test for feline asthma or other respiratory/nasal conditions. Common diagnostic tools include physical examination, chest x-rays, and rhinoscopy.
When reverse sneezing, it is common for a cat to stretch out, extending its neck and hunching its upper body. Convulsions in the cat’s chest and abdomen are frequent. It may seem like the cat cannot breathe.
Reverse sneezing is a normal reflex and usually occurs with no other symptoms, however, underlying causes are possible.