Why Is My Cat Sneezing? 5 Main Causes and Pro Tips

If you've found yourself pondering, "Why is my cat sneezing?" with a mix of worry and wonder, then you're in just the right place.
why is my cat sneezing

Have you ever been startled awake by the sudden sound of your cat sneezing close to your face?

If you’ve found yourself pondering, “Why is my cat sneezing?” with a mix of worry and wonder, then you’re in just the right place.

Cat sneezing is much like human sneezing – it’s a reflex action to clear the nasal passages. An occasional sneeze is nothing to fret over, but what if it becomes a frequent occurrence?

Read on as we unravel the causes, symptoms, and treatments of cat sneezing, and don’t miss our tips on when it’s time to worry and how to keep those sneezes to a minimum.

Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment of Cat Sneezing

First things first, let’s distinguish between normal and abnormal cat sneezing. An occasional sneeze, especially after a dust bath or a playful romp, is nothing to worry about. But if you find yourself asking “Why is my cat sneezing constantly,” then it’s time to put on your detective hat.

Allergies: Not Just a Human Problem


You may be surprised to learn that cats can have allergies too. Luckily, it’s less common with cats. And yes, their symptoms can look quite similar to ours. Normally, allergies in cats fall into the following three categories:

  • Environmental factors like pollen, dust, grass, mold, perfume, smoke, or chemicals.
  • Food intolerances include chicken, beef, dairy products, eggs, and fish.
  • Flea bites make our fur babies scratch themselves and cause allergic reactions all over their bodies.

All kinds of these allergies can trigger sneezing in cats. In some cases, they might also experience itching skin, watery eyes, or even hair loss.

There’s no one-fits-all cure for allergies in cats, but your vet can help develop a treatment plan to manage the symptoms, it could be a special diet, flea-preventative medications, or vaccines.

Foreign Objects: The Unexpected Intruder

Another common cause that makes you wonder “Why is my cat sneezing all of a sudden” is the presence of foreign objects in their nasal passages. Grass seeds, hair, food particles – you’d be amazed at what can get stuck in there!

If this is the case, the foreign object needs to be removed, either by flushing with saline or using forceps. But remember, if your cat is choking, it’s time to rush to the vet.

The More Serious Causes: Upper Respiratory Infections

If you’re still wondering, “Why does my cat sneeze so much,” it’s time to consider the more serious causes, and the chances are good that your cat has upper respiratory infections (URIs).

Symptoms of URIs:
Nasal discharge
Watery eyes
Mouth ulcers
Loss of appetite

Caused by viral, bacterial, or even fungal infections, URIs are quite common among cats that are adopted or once lived in cat shelters.

Viral Infections: Feline herpesvirus, Feline calicivirus

viral infection sneeze

Feline herpesvirus and calicivirus are responsible for almost 80% of upper respiratory infections. Both viruses are highly contagious among cats through direct contact and sharing. But worry less, you will not be affected.

While there’s no specific treatment for these viral infections, supportive care can help boost your cat’s immune system. Regularly clean the discharge with a warm, damp towel to comfort them, put on a humidifier or air purifier to keep their nasal passages moist, and feed them properly to keep them healthy.

To greatly lower the chances of getting a feline herpesvirus, have your cats vaccinated at a young age.

Bacterial Infections: Bordetella, Mycoplasma, Chlamydophila

bacterial infections sneeze

Bacterial infections, often caused by Bordetella, Mycoplasma, or Chlamydophila, can also result in upper respiratory infections.

However, a bacterial infection is hardly the single culprit, as it normally happens after a virus damages the nasal passage. A cat with herpesvirus is likely to develop a secondary bacterial infection. Antibiotics are usually the go-to treatment for bacterial infections.

Fungal Infections: Cryptococcus neoformans

fungal infections sneeze

Fungal infections are far less common than the two counterparts. A cat who suffers from fungal infections will be in much pain, so you need to take your feline friend to the vet as soon as possible. Your vet will perform a comprehensive examination and prescribe antifungal medications for several months.

Dental Problems: An Unexpected Cause

Now here’s a curveball. Did you know that dental issues can cause your cat to sneeze? Infected or inflamed teeth can cause referred pain to the nasal area and trigger sneezing.

cat dental problems

And why? The roots of a cat’s teeth are right next to its nasal passage, and the wall between them will be breached when its teeth are infected. As a result, the food digested would enter the nose.

What’s more, dental problems can also lead to secondary bacterial infections in the nose or sinuses. The treatment usually involves extracting the infected teeth or cleaning the gums and roots.

A surprising truth, 50%-90% of cats over four years old have different forms of dental problems, according to the Cornell Feline Health Center. So, cat parents take good care of your fur babies! You don’t want to see them suffer more.

Nasal Polyps or Tumors: The Unwanted Visitor

Lastly, abnormal growths in the nasal passages, such as polyps or tumors, can provoke sneezing, nasal discharge, or even facial swelling in your cat. If you’re wondering, “Why is my cat sneezing blood,” this could be the cause.

These growths can be detected through a nasal biopsy, and surgery is usually the only effective treatment.

Is My Cat’s Sneezing a Red Flag?

To discern whether your cat’s sneeze is a simple tickle or a symptom of something more serious, consider:

  1. Frequency and Duration: Is the sneezing occasional or constant?
  2. Intensity and Pattern: Is it a soft sneeze or a violent explosion? And what seems to trigger it?
  3. Associated Symptoms: Are there any other signs of discomfort or illness?

By analyzing these factors, you can distinguish between a harmless sneeze and one that signifies it’s time for a vet visit.

Knowing When to Visit the Vet

take cat to the vet

So, when should you worry about your cat’s sneezing? For example, if your cat’s sneezing is persistent, lasting more than a few days, or recurring regularly, it’s time to take action. If your cat is sneezing blood, it’s definitely a red flag.

Also, if your cat is sneezing and showing other signs of illness, like loss of appetite, discharge from the nose or eyes, or lethargy, it’s time to call the vet.

Remember, when in doubt, it’s always better to consult with a vet. After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your feline friend’s health.

Tips to Prevent or Reduce Cat Sneezing in the Future


While we can’t eliminate the possibility of our cats sneezing, there are steps we can take to reduce the frequency and intensity of their sneezes.

  • Vaccinating your cat, especially against feline herpesvirus and calicivirus, can help prevent respiratory infections.
  • Neutering or spaying your cat can also reduce their susceptibility to infections.
  • Keeping your cat indoors can minimize their exposure to allergens and infectious agents.
  • Avoid smoking or using aerosols around your cat, as these can irritate their respiratory system.
  • Maintaining a clean environment for your cat can also help. Regular vacuuming, frequent litter box changes, and avoiding strong odors or chemicals can all contribute to a sneeze-free environment.
  • Regular check-ups with your vet are crucial, especially if your cat has a history of sneezing.

Remember, these tips are not foolproof, but they can significantly reduce the chances of your cat developing serious sneezing-related issues.


Can I catch a cold from my sneezing cat?

No, you cannot catch a cold from your sneezing cat, as most cat respiratory infections are caused by species-specific viruses or bacteria that do not affect humans. However, some cat respiratory infections can be transmitted to other cats or other animals, so it is important to isolate your sneezing cat and practice good hygiene.

Can I give my sneezing cat human medication?

No, you should not give your sneezing cat human medication, as some products can be toxic or ineffective for cats. For example, acetaminophen (Tylenol) can cause liver failure, and pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) can cause heart problems in cats. Always consult your vet before giving your cat any medication, supplements, or home remedies

How can I tell if my cat is sneezing or coughing?

Sneezing and coughing are different respiratory sounds that cats make for different reasons. Sneezing is a short, sharp, explosive sound that comes from the nose, while coughing is a longer, deeper, harsher sound that comes from the throat. Sneezing is usually caused by irritation or infection in the nasal passages, while coughing is usually caused by irritation or infection in the lungs or airways.

If you are not sure whether your cat is sneezing or coughing, you can try to record the sound and show it to your vet for clarification.

Why is my cat sneezing blood?

If your cat is sneezing blood, it could be a sign of a serious problem, such as a nasal polyp, tumor, foreign object, trauma, or bleeding disorder. You should take your cat to the vet as soon as possible, as sneezing blood can indicate a life-threatening condition.

Wrap up!

Cats sneeze for all sorts of reasons, from the benign to the vet-worthy. As cat devotees, our job is to love and understand our furry companions, sneezes and all. Stay observant, stay knowledgeable, and above all, stay caring. After all, each sneeze is a reminder of the vibrant life we’re sharing our homes with!

And remember, a sneezing cat isn’t always a signal to sound the alarms. But when in doubt, it’s worth a chat with your vet. Keep this article as your go-to guide whenever your cat’s sneezes have you scratching your head and asking, “Why is my cat sneezing all the time?”



As an English major graduate, Rainie seamlessly merges her love for writing with her passion for cats. As the proud owner of two cats, Ham and Tata, she delights in everything feline. She skillfully combines her academic background and personal interests, crafting engaging content that resonates with all cat lovers. Follow her on Facebook.
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