What Makes A Cat Sneeze

icon July 2, 2024

Cats, like humans, can sneeze for a variety of reasons. While an occasional sneeze is typically harmless, frequent or severe sneezing can be a sign of underlying health issues. Understanding the causes of sneezing in cats, recognizing when it might be a cause for concern, and knowing how to manage your cat's health at home are crucial for any cat owner. This article will delve into what makes a cat sneeze, explore common reasons behind feline sneezing, discuss when it is normal or abnormal, and provide guidance on when to seek veterinary care and how to manage mild cases at home.

What Makes a Cat Sneeze?

Sneezing in cats, much like in humans, is a reflex action that occurs when the nasal passages are irritated. This irritation can result from a wide range of factors, including:

1. Allergens:
Cats can be sensitive to various allergens such as pollen, dust, mold, or certain chemicals. When these particles enter the nasal passages, they can trigger sneezing as the body attempts to expel them.

2. Infections:
Upper respiratory infections (URIs) are a common cause of sneezing in cats. These infections can be viral, bacterial, or fungal. Feline herpesvirus and calicivirus are the most common viral culprits, often accompanied by other symptoms like nasal discharge, coughing, and eye irritation.

3. Foreign Bodies:
Sometimes, a small object like a blade of grass, a piece of food, or other debris can get lodged in a cat's nasal passages, causing irritation and subsequent sneezing.

4. Irritants:
Exposure to smoke, strong perfumes, cleaning products, or other irritants can also cause a cat to sneeze. Cats have sensitive noses, and inhaling these substances can lead to sneezing fits.

5. Dental Issues:
Dental problems, such as infections or abscesses, can affect the nasal passages because of the close proximity between a cat's mouth and nose. This can lead to sneezing and nasal discharge.

6. Nasal Tumors:
In rare cases, persistent sneezing may be a sign of a nasal tumor. These tumors can cause nasal obstruction, leading to sneezing and other respiratory issues.

7. Chronic Conditions:
Some cats suffer from chronic respiratory conditions that make them more prone to sneezing. Chronic rhinitis, for example, is an inflammation of the nasal passages that can cause ongoing sneezing and nasal discharge.

Why My Cat Sneezes

Understanding why your cat is sneezing requires careful observation and, in some cases, veterinary diagnostics. Here are some common reasons your cat might be sneezing:

1. Seasonal Allergies:
Just like humans, cats can have seasonal allergies. If your cat sneezes more during certain times of the year, it could be reacting to pollen or other seasonal allergens.

2. Environmental Factors:
Changes in the environment, such as moving to a new home, using new cleaning products, or introducing new plants, can cause sneezing. Identifying and removing these irritants can help alleviate the problem.

3. Infection Exposure:
Cats that spend time outdoors or interact with other cats are at higher risk of contracting infections. Sneezing might be the first sign of an upper respiratory infection, especially if accompanied by other symptoms like coughing or nasal discharge.

4. Stress:
Stress can weaken a cat's immune system, making it more susceptible to infections and other health issues. A stressed cat might be more prone to sneezing due to a compromised immune system.

5. Dental Health:
Poor dental health can lead to infections that affect the nasal passages. Regular dental check-ups and cleanings can help prevent this cause of sneezing.

6. Household Changes:
Changes in the household, such as new furniture, renovations, or new pets, can introduce new allergens or irritants. Monitoring your cat's reaction to these changes can help identify the cause of sneezing.

Is It Normal for Cats to Sneeze?

An occasional sneeze in cats is generally not a cause for concern and can be quite normal. However, frequent or severe sneezing warrants closer attention. Here’s a guide to understanding when sneezing is normal and when it might indicate a problem:

1. Occasional Sneezing:
A cat that sneezes once in a while, without any other symptoms, is usually experiencing a minor irritation or allergen exposure. This type of sneezing is typically short-lived and resolves on its own.

2. Persistent Sneezing:
If your cat sneezes multiple times a day or has sneezing fits, it could indicate a more serious issue such as an infection, chronic condition, or environmental irritant.

3. Accompanied by Other Symptoms:
Sneezing accompanied by symptoms like nasal discharge, coughing, lethargy, loss of appetite, or eye discharge should be evaluated by a veterinarian. These symptoms can indicate an upper respiratory infection or other health problems.

4. Age and Health Status:
Kittens and senior cats are more susceptible to infections and other health issues. Frequent sneezing in these age groups should be monitored closely.

When Should I Worry About My Cat Sneezing?

Knowing when to seek veterinary care is essential for keeping your cat healthy. Here are some indicators that it might be time to worry about your cat's sneezing:

1. Persistent Sneezing:
If your cat's sneezing continues for more than a few days or worsens over time, it’s a sign that something might be wrong.

2. Nasal Discharge:
Clear nasal discharge can be normal, but thick, yellow, green, or bloody discharge indicates an infection or other serious issue.

3. Breathing Difficulties:
If your cat is struggling to breathe, wheezing, or has a noisy respiration, seek veterinary attention immediately. These symptoms can indicate severe respiratory distress.

4. Loss of Appetite:
Cats that stop eating or show a significant decrease in appetite might be experiencing discomfort or illness that needs veterinary intervention.

5. Behavioral Changes:
Lethargy, hiding, or other significant changes in behavior can signal that your cat is unwell and needs medical attention.

6. Swollen or Red Eyes:
Eye issues accompanied by sneezing often indicate an upper respiratory infection or other health problem that needs treatment.

How Can I Treat My Cat's Cold Without Going to the Vet?

If your cat is showing mild symptoms of a cold and you prefer to manage it at home, there are several steps you can take to help your cat feel better. However, it’s important to note that if symptoms persist or worsen, veterinary care is necessary. Here are some home care tips:

1. Keep Your Cat Warm and Comfortable:
Ensure your cat has a warm, quiet place to rest. Use blankets and keep the environment stress-free to support recovery.

2. Hydration:
Encourage your cat to drink water. You can also offer wet cat food or broth to keep them hydrated. Hydration is crucial for recovery from a cold.

3. Steam Therapy:
Running a hot shower to create a steam-filled bathroom can help clear your cat’s nasal passages. Allow your cat to breathe in the steam for about 10-15 minutes, a few times a day.

4. Clean the Nose and Eyes:
Gently wipe away any discharge from your cat’s nose and eyes with a damp, warm cloth. Keeping these areas clean can prevent further irritation.

5. Humidifier:
Using a humidifier in the room where your cat spends most of its time can help keep the air moist and ease breathing difficulties.

6. Boost Immunity:
Providing a well-balanced diet and possibly adding supplements like lysine, after consulting with your vet, can help boost your cat’s immune system.

7. Limit Stress:
Reducing stress by maintaining a calm environment can help your cat recover faster. Avoid loud noises and sudden changes during this time.

8. Monitor Symptoms:
Keep a close eye on your cat’s symptoms. If you notice any worsening of symptoms or if new symptoms develop, it’s time to consult with a veterinarian.


Sneezing in cats can range from being a harmless, occasional reflex to a sign of a more serious health issue. By understanding the various causes of sneezing, monitoring your cat’s symptoms, and knowing when to seek veterinary care, you can ensure your feline friend stays healthy and comfortable. While some mild cases can be managed at home with proper care and attention, always prioritize your cat’s well-being and seek professional help when necessary. Maintaining a healthy environment, providing good nutrition, and minimizing stress are key to preventing and managing sneezing and other respiratory issues in cats.

Leave A Comment
All comments are moderated before being published.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Join The Puainta

Become one of pet parents and get professional tips, immediate product info, updated promotions and discounts, and more surprises from us!