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Why is My Cat Sneezing so Much: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

Our feline friends sneeze for the same reasons humans do: usually, an itch in the nose, prompted by suspended particles in the air such as dust, smoke, or even their cat fur. Sneezing is a normal, biological function when it occurs infrequently. It’s even normal for a cat to throw an occasional sneezing fit.

Knowing a cat’s sneezes can be both amusing and charming, but understanding when it becomes a reason to worry is essential. Cats, like humans, can suffer from common colds, upper respiratory infections (URIs), and sinus issues. These adorable sneezes might be a result of such infections.

Yet, various other underlying conditions could be triggering these cute bouts of sneezing.

Stay vigilant and consult a veterinarian if your feline companion’s sneezing persists or worsens. Prioritize your cat’s health and well-being.

Should I worry about my cat sneezing?

Sneezing is a natural bodily reflex that occurs involuntarily when irritants are present in the upper nasal passage. It plays a crucial role in eliminating irritants from the respiratory tract by expelling air from the lungs through the nose and mouth. Interestingly, this function is not limited to humans; it is widespread across the animal kingdom. From your beloved family dog and pet chickens to majestic elephants, sneezing serves as a universal mechanism for various creatures to maintain their respiratory health.

Cabbagetown Pet Clinic PSA: if you’re within 6 feet (2m) of an elephant about to sneeze, vacate the area immediately.

What Causes a Cat to Sneeze?

Cats sneeze for reasons similar to humans, often due to irritants like dust, smoke, or their fur causing an itch in their nose. Occasional sneezing is normal, but frequent bouts might signal an underlying issue. If your cat sneezes excessively or exhibits additional symptoms, consulting a veterinarian is crucial. Persistent sneezing could indicate a more serious condition. Don’t hesitate to seek professional advice for your feline friend’s health and well-being. Stay vigilant and ensure your cat receives the necessary care if needed.

Why is My Cat Sneezing? 7 Common Causes

1. External Irritation

When considering external irritants, we often associate them with harmful odors like chemicals or exposure to toxins such as rat poison. Surprisingly, even seemingly harmless household products can lead to sneezing episodes. Stay aware of potential triggers within your home environment that might cause discomfort for you and your family. Understanding these factors can help create a healthier living space for everyone.

For example:

  • Cooking spices can irritate a cat’s delicate nose; pepper and cinnamon are two popular sources. This is especially true if the cat is interested in what’s going on in the kitchen.
  • Household cleaning supplies, such as vinegar, bleach, and other chemical-containing goods.
  • Essential oils: although they could improve your quality of life and mood, they might upset your cat because of their keen sense of smell, which could make them sneeze.

2. Foreign Material

Various alien objects become stuck in the nostrils of curious cats. Various alien objects become stuck in the nostrils of curious cats.

  • Items such as grass, lint, or hair.
  • Airborne particles, such as allergies or pollen.
  • Dust as well as other airborne contaminants like smoke.

Cats react to ingested particles by sneezing to get rid of the foreign matter, much like people do. Make plans for an appointment at our veterinary clinic right away if sneezing isn’t enough to get rid of the trapped stuff.

3. Upper Respiratory Infections (URIs)

Your cat probably has an upper respiratory infection, or URI, if they are sneezing more than usual. The Feline Herpesvirus, or FHV, is the most common respiratory illness. It is thought that between 80 and 90 percent of cats are FHV-positive.

The majority of cats are long-term carriers of upper respiratory viruses because they were exposed to them as kittens. The virus can resurface when cats experience stress or immunosuppression. Generally speaking, viral URIs are the underlying cause of sneezing cats.

There is presently no treatment for herpesvirus infections in cats, and infections are permanent, although new research suggests that current drugs may help.

Other viral illnesses that might cause cats to sneeze include influenza and calicivirus, against which the FVRCP combo vaccine offers protection.

When cats get an upper respiratory infection (URI), common symptoms include:

  • Repeated sneezing over several hours or days
  • Lethargy and/or fever
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Dehydration and/or decreased appetite; weight loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Recurrent coughing or swallowing
  • An appearance of irregular discharge (yellow, green or bloody) from the nose or eyes

4. Dental Disease

“Dental disease can cause sneezing, particularly involving root infections,” according to the Pet Health Network. Cat tooth infections can give rise to nasal sinus infections, which can cause inflammation and sneezing.

The fact that cat sneezing might be attributed to dental disease surprises a lot of pet parents. Like most things, sneezing is a sign of a more serious problem. The nasal passageways are directly adjacent to the root canals of the teeth in the upper jaw. The wall separating the nasal tube from the tooth hole can be ruptured when an infection occurs in one or more teeth, or when there is acute inflammation. Bacteria can spread to other areas of the body if they are not treated.

In general, this illness is severe and painful. A trip to the vet is highly advised if you think your cat may have dental problems.

5. Bacterial Infections

A bacterial infection is most likely the cause of any yellow or green discharge coming from your cat’s eyes or nose, along with persistent sneezing.

Bacterial infections in cats usually always take on a secondary function following nasal passage damage caused by another medical illness or respiratory virus. Bacteria are opportunistic creatures that seize the chance to exploit the gaps in the defenses that shield cats against these kinds of assaults.

6. Neoplasia

Neoplasia, or tumors, is always a possibility when it comes to sneeze symptoms, especially in elderly cats. Inside the nasal canal, aberrant (cancer) cells can proliferate, causing irritation and inflammation that results in the cat sneezing. The most common methods for visually detecting these malignancies are rhinoscopy and nasal biopsies. Unfortunately, the diagnosis typically has highly negative effects when it is present.

7. Fungal Infections

Fungal infections are known to cause sneezing in cats, although they are very uncommon in comparison to viral or bacterial diseases. Most frequently, a fungus called Cryptococcus is the culprit.

To differentiate a fungal infection from other reasons for feline sneezing, a physical examination is usually insufficient. A rhinoscopy or biopsy is usually required to provide a conclusive diagnosis.

Why is My Cat Sneezing So Much? What Should I do?

STEP 1: Examine your cat’s surroundings and speculate as to why. Identifying patterns can assist in determining whether your cat’s sneezing is coming from an infection or another underlying condition, or if it’s a reaction to an irritant like dust or scent.

  • Does one sneeze at roughly the same time every day?
  • Does it only occur during domestic activities or in a certain room?
  • Have you added any fresh cat litter? Your cats may sneeze due to litter that is smelly, dusty, or both.
  • Do you use brand-new items in your house? The scents of candles, cleansers, scented oils, and perfumes can all bother sensitive cats.
  • Is a thorough cleaning of your home necessary? Usually, dust or pollen are suspects.

STEP 2: Here are some quick actions you may do to give your cat some relief if you think they may have an upper respiratory infection before you confirm a veterinarian appointment.

  • Use a clean cloth or cotton that has been warmed and moistened to remove any discharge from your cat’s face and nose.
  • Try to get your cat to eat by reheating moist or canned food to facilitate digestion.
  • Give out a lot of fresh water.
  • To assist in keeping your cat’s nasal passages moist, keep a humidifier humming.

STEP 3: It’s time to make an appointment with your veterinarian if you’ve tried everything to rule out environmental reasons for your cat’s sneeze and it’s still happening.

When is it Time to See my Veterinarian?

You might want to keep an eye on your cat for a few days if they just occasionally sneeze and show no other symptoms or very minor ones. Right now, there’s probably nothing to worry about. Keep your cat inside as a precaution and keep an eye out for any changes.

But these symptoms—which come with a lot of sneezing—are more dangerous and call for an urgent veterinarian visit:

  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Worsening of symptoms
  • Nasal discharge
  • Persistence of symptoms beyond a few days

Treatment of Upper Respiratory Infection in Cats

When a cat sneezes excessively, the treatment usually focuses on finding the underlying reason, which is frequently an upper respiratory illness.

Although there are many different therapies available, owners should be aware that most of the time, especially with chronic conditions, the objective is to lessen rather than to cure symptoms.

The response to treatment will depend on how severe the upper respiratory infection is. When symptoms are modest, URIs might go away on their own in a few weeks or get better with less complicated treatments.

Therapies for less severe cases:

  • NSAIDs
  • Antihistamines and decongestants
  • Humidifiers or vaporizers
  • Eye and/or nose drops
  • Antinausea medications

For more progressive cases, treatment options may include:

  • Regardless of the underlying cause, nasal lavage, which involves flushing the nasal passages while under general anesthesia, can momentarily relieve symptoms. It can also remove foreign objects that are hidden.
  • Antibiotics or antiviral drugs: Even though bacterial infections are rarely the main problem, antibiotics are frequently prescribed to hasten your cat’s recovery.
  • Androgens
  • Surgery (in extreme cases)
  • Subcutaneous fluids (to alleviate dehydration)


Hospitalization may be necessary in advanced cases to provide more intense therapies, like IV fluids and nutritional support. If left untreated, upper respiratory infections can result in pneumonia and other life-threatening consequences such as persistent breathing problems.

Bottom Lines

A floating particle (such as dust or pollen) that enters the nose and is inhaled is typically the source of your cat’s sneezes. All mammals have an involuntary physiological activity known as sneezing when this irritates the nasal tube.

However, it’s time to see one of our brave and caring vets if your cherished feline friend is consistently sneezing and has nasal secretions. We can assist you.

In most veterinary practices, cats with upper respiratory infections are not unusual. Thankfully, most illnesses are easily treated, so your cat will carry on with its happy life of sleeping, demanding food, and ignoring you.


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