Why Do Cats Sneeze? Uncovering Common Causes & Solutions

Dec 17


Rachael Huntress

Rachael Huntress

  • Share this article on Facebook
  • Share this article on Twitter
  • Share this article on Linkedin

Ever noticed your feline friend letting out an adorable achoo? While it might seem cute or even hilarious, cat sneezing can sometimes be a sign of underlying health issues. But don’t worry - we’re here to explore the mysteries of “why do cats sneeze” and help you keep your cat happy and healthy.

Key Takeaways

  • Exploring the roots of feline sneezing reveals common causes such as viral infections,Why Do Cats Sneeze? Uncovering Common Causes & Solutions Articles allergies, and environmental irritants.
  • Signs to look out for include persistent sneezing accompanied by other symptoms like nasal discharge or changes in behavior.
  • Veterinary care and home remedies can provide relief from cat sneezing, preventive measures are also key to keeping your kitty healthy!

Exploring the Roots of Feline Sneezing

Illustration of a cat sneezing When your cat sneezes, it’s their way of clearing out their nasal passages of any irritating particles. Sounds simple enough, right? But what triggers this rather comical reflex? Cats can start sneezing due to a variety of reasons including viral infections, bacterial infections, and exposure to allergens or environmental irritants.

You might notice your cat sneezing after a romp in the garden or a play session with their favorite feather toy. This could be due to an allergen or a tiny foreign object tickling their delicate nasal passages. But what happens if your cat’s sneezes become more frequent or are accompanied by other symptoms? That’s when we need to dig a little deeper.

Sometimes, the root of cat sneezing lies in health issues like viral or bacterial infections, which are often fought off by your cat’s immune system. Other times, everyday elements like dust or certain cleaning products could be to blame. We will delve into these causes more thoroughly.

The Viral Culprits Behind Cat Sneezes

The most common viral infection that results in sneezing cats is the feline herpesvirus. Other viruses like calicivirus and influenza can also make cats sneeze.

These viral infections can lead to inflammation and subsequent bacterial infections that can cause damage to the nasal passages, keeping the sneezing going. Stress can also exacerbate the symptoms of feline herpesvirus and weaken a cat’s immune system, making them more susceptible to infections and other health issues.

Bacterial Invasions and Their Impact on Nasal Health

While viral infections are often the initial trigger, bacterial infections can further complicate the issue. The common symptoms of a viral upper respiratory infection in cats are:

  • sneezing
  • coughing
  • nasal discharge
  • fever

When a bacterial infection is confirmed, vets usually prescribe antibiotics to treat the sneezing in cats. Antibiotics like doxycycline or azithromycin are typically used as they can greatly help in reducing sneezing and other respiratory symptoms.

Allergens and Environmental Irritants

Just like humans, cats can also react to allergens and irritants in their environment due to their cat’s immune system. These could include pollen, dust, mold, cigarette smoke, and even certain household cleaning products.

Cats may react to these irritants by sneezing in an attempt to clear their nasal passages. In some cases, they might also display symptoms like itchy and watery eyes, coughing, and wheezing, especially if they have asthma.

Navigating Respiratory Issues in Cats

Photo of a cat with nasal discharge While an occasional sneeze might not raise any alarms, frequent sneezing could point towards respiratory issues. If your cat continues to sneeze or show signs like loss of appetite, weight loss, or the symptoms persist for a few days, it’s time to bring them to the vet for a checkup.

Apart from sneezing, you should also be on the lookout for signs like:

  • wheezing
  • coughing
  • nasal discharge
  • changes in behavior

These could signal a health issue. After all, cats can totally catch colds, which are usually caused by a virus. While mild cases might resolve on their own, severe ones might require hospitalization and treatments like IV fluids and extra nutrition.

We’ll further investigate the characteristic signs of upper respiratory infections and when sneezing might signal more grave conditions.

The Telltale Signs of Upper Respiratory Infections

Upper respiratory infections in cats can be caused by various factors, including viruses, bacteria, and sometimes even fungal infections. The symptoms often include sneezing, coughing, nasal discharge, and fever.

The most common viral causes of sneezing in cats are Feline Herpesvirus and Calicivirus, and to a lesser extent, influenza. If a cat has a cold, you might notice symptoms like sneezing, a runny nose, congestion, fever, coughing, discharge from the eyes, and ulcers in the mouth or around the nose and eyes.

When Sneezing Indicates More Serious Conditions

Persistent sneezing could indicate chronic upper respiratory conditions like chronic rhinitis. These conditions can cause symptoms that persist for weeks or even months, like sneezing, coughing, and nasal discharge.

In some cases, chronic sneezing could even be due to the presence of tumors in the nasal passages. These tumors can cause irritation and inflammation that lead to chronic sneezing. When such serious conditions are suspected, vets usually use a procedure called rhinoscopy, where they use a camera to look inside the cat’s nasal passages, and sometimes they even take a biopsy to confirm the diagnosis.

Dental Concerns and Nasal Discomfort

Illustration of dental issues in cats It may come as a surprise to many, but dental problems can cause sneezing in cats. Infected teeth or severe inflammation can create a pathway from the tooth socket to the nose, which can cause food to enter the nose and make the cat sneeze.

Common dental diseases in cats that can lead to sneezing include gingivitis and periodontal disease. In some cases, tooth root infections that drain into the cat’s sinuses can also cause persistent sneezing.

Spotting Symptoms of Oral Health Issues

Dental issues in cats can manifest in various ways, one of them being sneezing. Gingivitis, periodontal disease, tooth resorption, and oral cancer can all cause sneezing in cats.

Apart from sneezing, other signs of dental disease in cats include:

  • Bad breath
  • Inflamed gums
  • Excessive drooling
  • Blood-tinged saliva
  • Difficulty eating
  • Yellow or brown tartar on the teeth
  • Pawing at the mouth

If you notice these symptoms, it’s a good idea to take your cat to the vet for a check-up.

When Foreign Bodies Cause Achoo

Photo of a veterinarian examining a cat's nasal passages Cats are curious creatures and their sense of exploration can sometimes lead to unexpected consequences. For instance, they can end up with things like grass awns or blades of grass lodged in their nasal passages, causing them to sneeze.

If a lodged foreign object cannot be sneezed out, it’s crucial to get the cat to the vet right away. The vet may need to step in and safely remove the object using procedures such as rhinoscopy or a nasal flush.

Deciphering Cat Sneezing Patterns

Understanding your cat’s sneezing patterns can give clues about the underlying cause. Different sneezing patterns can point to various problems such as infections, allergies, or exposure to irritants.

Occasional sneezing is quite normal for cats. It’s their way of clearing out their nasal passages, just like we do. But if your cat’s sneezing becomes more frequent or is accompanied by other symptoms, it may be time to dig deeper.

The intensity of a cat’s sneeze can also be a clue to what’s causing it. If the sneezing is happening a lot and there are other symptoms, it could mean something’s up and needs to be checked out.

Occasional Sneeze vs. Chronic Sneezing

Just like us, cats can sneeze occasionally due to minor irritations or infections. This is quite normal and nothing to be alarmed about. However, chronic cat’s sneezing, which persists over a longer period, can be a sign of ongoing health issues like upper respiratory infections, allergies, or exposure to irritants.

Chronic sneezing can be due to:

  • ongoing respiratory infections
  • sinus and nasal issues
  • chronic respiratory conditions
  • allergies
  • feline herpes virus
  • neoplasia
  • turbinate damage causing chronic rhinitis

If your cat is sneezing persistently and more frequently than usual, it’s essential to seek veterinary consultation.

Sneezing Accompanied by Other Symptoms

Sneezing is not the only symptom you should watch out for. When a cat is sneezing a lot, they might also have discharge from the eyes or nose, display changes in behavior, or show symptoms of an upper respiratory infection.

Should your cat’s sneezing coincide with symptoms like greenish nasal discharge, watery eyes, or lethargy, you should seek veterinary attention. Such signs might suggest a more serious issue demanding immediate action.

Addressing Feline Sneezing: Treatment Options

The treatment strategy for a sneezing cat primarily hinges on the root cause. Commonly, broad-spectrum antibiotics and steroids are used. At times, repeated or extended courses of antibiotics might be necessary to manage the symptoms. For conditions like rhinitis and sinusitis, nasal flushes may be performed.

Vets usually take care of chronic upper respiratory conditions in cats by providing ongoing veterinary care and prescribing medications that are specific to the cat’s symptoms. The main goal of treatment, especially in chronic cases, is to reduce the frequency and severity of symptoms.

But treatment isn’t just about medication. There are also ways you can help soothe your sneezing cat at home.

Home Care Strategies to Soothe Your Sneezing Cat

There are several home care strategies that can help soothe your sneezing cat. The use of a humidifier can help keep your cat’s nasal passages moist, which can alleviate sneezing. When cleaning around your furry friend, it’s best to stick to pet-safe options to avoid triggering sneezing.

Providing a balanced diet is also crucial for your cat’s overall health and respiratory health. A diet rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and high-quality proteins can help decrease inflammation and keep the gut healthy. However, it’s always best to consult with a vet before making any significant changes to your cat’s diet.

Medical Interventions for Severe Cases

In severe cases of cat sneezing, medical interventions may be necessary. If a cat’s severe sneezing doesn’t improve with medication or if there’s a serious issue like a lung tumor, then surgery might be recommended.

Certain procedures like nasal lavage can also be performed to help with severe sneezing and other clinical signs. This involves flushing a saline solution through a sterile catheter inserted into the nose while the cat is under anesthesia.

Preventive Measures to Keep Your Cat Healthy

Illustration of a cat receiving a vaccination Despite the importance of addressing cat sneezing as it happens, preemptive measures are always preferable. Routine vet visits and vaccinations, for instance for FHV-1 and FCV, can contribute to your cat’s overall health and ward off problems like sneezing and upper respiratory infections.

Apart from this, maintaining a clean living environment for your cat and providing them with a balanced diet can also go a long way in preventing health issues. And if you ever notice any unusual sneezing or other symptoms, always consult with your family vet for professional advice.


In conclusion, while a sneezing cat can be an amusing sight, it’s important to understand that it could be a sign of underlying health issues. From viral infections and allergens to dental problems and foreign bodies, various factors can trigger sneezing in cats. Knowing how to decipher your cat’s sneezing patterns and understanding when to seek veterinary help is crucial. Remember, prevention is always better than cure, so regular vet checks, a clean environment, and a balanced diet can go a long way in keeping your cat healthy and happy.

Frequently Asked Questions

When should I worry about my cat sneezing?

If your cat has occasional sneezes with no other illness signs, it's likely nothing to worry about. However, if the sneezing becomes persistent or is accompanied by symptoms such as excessive nasal discharge, runny eyes, fatigue, coughing, trouble breathing, or a lack of appetite, then make an appointment with your vet as soon as possible.

What can you give a cat for sneezing?

If your cat is sneezing, treatment may include antibiotics, decongestants, antihistamines, appetite stimulants, or fluids. Consult your vet for the best course of action.

Why is my cat sneezing a lot?

It looks like your cat's sneezing might be due to an infection, an allergy, or an environmental irritant - it's best to take your cat to the vet to rule out any serious causes.

What should I do if my cat's sneezing is accompanied by other symptoms?

If your cat's sneezing is accompanied by other symptoms like greenish nasal discharge, watery eyes, lethargy, or persistent symptoms, it's best to get them checked out by a vet as soon as possible.

How can I soothe my sneezing cat at home?

Try keeping your cat's nasal passages moist with a humidifier, using pet-safe cleaning products, and providing a balanced diet to keep them healthy - this should help soothe your sneezing cat at home.

Also From This Author

Can Dogs be Autistic? Possible Causes and Signs of Autism

Can Dogs be Autistic? Possible Causes and Signs of Autism

The intriguing question, "Can dogs be autistic?" often surfaces among pet owners who observe peculiar behaviors in their furry companions. While the term 'autism' is widely recognized in human psychology, its application to canine behavior remains a topic of evolving research and discussion. When pet owners ponder, "Can a dog have autism?" they are often seeking to understand a range of behaviors that may seem atypical or aligned with signs of autism in humans.
How to Train Your Dog to be a Therapy Dog

How to Train Your Dog to be a Therapy Dog

Embarking on the journey of training your dog to be a therapy dog can open a world of difference in the lives of others. Whether you're looking to bring joy to hospital patients, provide comfort in schools, or support in retirement homes, understanding how to train a therapy dog is an enriching endeavor. In this guide, we'll explore the fundamental steps to transform your beloved pup into a certified source of solace and support for those in need. We'll navigate through the nuances of therapeutic dog training, ensuring you have the knowledge and resources to train your dog to be a therapy dog
How to Leash Train a Dog or Puppy to Walk on a Leash

How to Leash Train a Dog or Puppy to Walk on a Leash

Leash training a puppy is an essential step in establishing a harmonious bond between you and your furry companion. Contrary to what one might think, the ability to leash train a puppy doesn't come naturally. It’s a craft that both the pet and owner must develop together for an enjoyable walking experience. Dog training expert Kathy Santo underscores the importance of this skill, and the positive impacts it yields with each stroll you embark on together.