Why Do My Kittens Sneeze And Have Watery Eyes?

It's common for kittens to have upper respiratory infections. See how to detect and help this condition in young cats.

Lots of kittens come to new homes with sniffles and watery eyes.  Via Public Domain Pictures
Lots of kittens come to new homes with sniffles and watery eyes. Via Public Domain Pictures

Q:

Someone dropped off kittens at our place (we have a farm). The kittens’ eyes run and the kittens sneeze constantly. Can you give me an idea what they have and how to treat it?

A:

The most likely cause for sneezing and eye discharge is a viral upper respiratory infection (URI). These commonly affect kittens and are usually caused by a virus: the herpes virus, the calici virus or both. They often result in sneezing, discharge from the eyes and nose, drooling, congestion, fever and poor appetite.

The feline herpes virus (also called the rhinotracheitis virus) is the most common culprit and causes profuse sneezing and a watery or mucoid nasal discharge. Calici virus 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.

Treatment of URIs requires supportive care with oral antibiotics, antiviral drugs, medicated eye ointments and nutritional supplements such as the amino acid lysine. Fortunately, most kittens recover from respiratory infections.


See more reasons why cats sneeze

See more articles by Arnold Plotnick, DVM

Article Categories:
Cats · Health and Care · Kittens

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *