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Why Is My Cat Sneezing? – Causes & Treatment

Have you noticed your feline friend sneezing lately? Just like humans, cats also sneeze from time to time. Sneezing is a reflex action that helps clear the nose and mouth of irritants. However, if your cat is sneezing frequently, it could be a sign of an underlying health issue such as seasonal allergies, upper respiratory infection, or allergic reactions affecting their nasal passages.

foreign object in their nose or mouth can cause a feline friend’s sneeze, as well as cat litter dust. Feline herpes is another common cause of sneezing in cats, which can lead to inflammation and blockage of the nasal passage. If you’re wondering how much sneezing is too much for a cat or why cats can’t go outside when they’re sneezing due to seasonal allergies, we’ll answer those questions for you.

So let’s cut to the chase and find out what might be causing your feline friend’s sneezes! It could be due to feline herpes, fleas, or irritation from their cat litter.

Common Causes of Cat Sneezing

Cats are known for their cleanliness and grooming habits, but sometimes they can develop sneezing fits that can be concerning for their owners. Sneeze is a natural reflex in cats that helps clear their nasal passages of irritants or foreign particles. However, excessive sneezing can be a sign of an underlying health issue that requires attention. One of the common causes of excessive sneezing in cats is feline herpes, which can cause inflammation in the airways and lead to side effects such as watery eyes and nasal discharge.


One of the most common causes of cat sneezing is allergies. Cats, like humans, can develop allergies to various environmental factors such as pollen, dust mites, and mold spores. Seasonal allergies are also prevalent in cats and can cause excessive sneezing during certain times of the year. However, feline herpes can also cause frequent sneezing in cats and may lead to inflammation in the nasal passages. It is important to note that some medications used to treat cat sneezing may have side effects.

Allergic reactions to food ingredients or additives may also trigger sneezing in some cats, including those infected with herpes. Identifying the allergen responsible for your cat’s sneeze and herpes symptoms can be challenging but is essential to managing their condition effectively.

Upper Respiratory Infections

Upper respiratory infections (URI) are another common cause of cats sneezing. The infection is caused by a virus or bacteria that inflames the upper respiratory tract and leads to symptoms such as coughing, runny nose, and fever.

Feline herpesvirus (FHV-1) is one type of virus known to cause URI in cats. The virus spreads through bodily fluids such as saliva or discharge from infected cats’ eyes or nose, and can also be transmitted through sneezing.

Bacterial infections such as Chlamydia felis and Bordetella bronchiseptica may also cause URI in cats. These infections are often treated with antibiotics prescribed by a veterinarian.

Dental Issues

Dental issues such as gum disease or tooth abscesses may cause your cat to sneeze excessively due to inflammation in the mouth area affecting the nasal passages’ nerves.

If you notice your cats sneeze frequently and suspect dental issues, it’s essential to take them to a veterinarian for a check-up. Your vet may recommend a dental cleaning or other treatments to address the underlying issue.

Foreign Objects

Cats are curious creatures that love exploring their surroundings, which can sometimes lead to foreign objects getting stuck in their nasal passages. This can cause irritation and trigger sneezing fits.

Common foreign objects that cats may inhale include grass blades, dust particles, and plant materials. If you suspect your cat has an object lodged in their nose, seek veterinary attention immediately.

Symptoms of Cat Sneezing

If you have a cat, you might notice that they occasionally sneeze. While it may seem like a harmless occurrence, there are several symptoms of cat sneezing that you should be aware of.

General Symptoms of Cat Allergies

One possible cause of cat sneezing is allergies. If your cat is allergic to something in their environment, they may exhibit some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Sneezing
  • Watery eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Itchy skin
  • Vomiting or diarrhea (less common)

If you suspect that your cat has allergies, take them to the vet for an allergy test. Once the allergen is identified, you can work on eliminating it from your home.

Symptoms of a Cat Cold

Another possible cause of cat sneezing is a cold. Just like humans, cats can catch colds from other cats or from being exposed to cold temperatures. Some common symptoms of a cat cold include:

  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Watery eyes
  • Coughing
  • Loss of appetite

If your cat has a cold, make sure they stay warm and hydrated. You can also use a humidifier to help ease their congestion.

Symptoms of Allergies in Cats

In addition to sneezing and coughing, there are other symptoms that may indicate that your cat has allergies:

  • Skin irritation or rash
  • Ear infections
  • Licking or biting at paws or fur excessively

If you notice any of these symptoms in addition to sneezing and coughing, take your cat to the vet for an evaluation.

Side Effects of Cat Sneezing

While occasional sneezes may not be cause for concern, excessive sneezing due to cat litter can lead to some side effects. These may include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Dehydration

If your cat is exhibiting any of these symptoms, take them to the vet immediately.

Cat Sneezing as a Symptom of Dental Disease

Believe it or not, cat sneezing can also be a symptom of dental disease. If your cat has an infected tooth or gum disease, they may experience inflammation in their nasal passages which could cause sneezing. Other symptoms of dental disease in cats include:

  • Bad breath
  • Drooling
  • Difficulty eating

If you suspect that your cat has dental disease, take them to the vet for a dental exam.

Upper Respiratory Infections (URIs) in Cats

Upper respiratory infections (URIs) are common in cats and can be caused by viruses that are highly contagious. URIs can lead to a range of symptoms, including sneezing, coughing, and nasal discharge. Herpes virus is a common cause of URIs in cats, but irritation from environmental factors can also contribute to respiratory infections.

What are Upper Respiratory Infections?

Upper respiratory infections (URIs) refer to a group of diseases that affect the nose, throat, sinuses, and other parts of the upper respiratory tract. These infections are typically caused by viruses or bacteria and can spread easily from one cat to another through direct contact or exposure to contaminated surfaces.

Cats with URIs may show symptoms such as sneezing, coughing, runny nose or eyes, fever, loss of appetite or lethargy. If left untreated for too long it could potentially lead to pneumonia.

Causes of URIs in Cats

The most common cause of URIs in cats is viral infection. The herpes virus is particularly prevalent among felines and is known to cause respiratory issues like conjunctivitis and rhinitis.

Other viral causes include calicivirus and feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), which can also lead to severe illness if not treated promptly.

Bacterial infections such as Chlamydia psittaci and Bordetella bronchiseptica can also cause upper respiratory tract disease in cats.

Environmental factors like dust or smoke inhalation can irritate the airways of your cat leading to inflammation which then leads to secondary bacterial infection causing an URI.

Diagnosis & Treatment

If you suspect your cat has an URI it’s important you take them straight away for veterinary care so they can diagnose what’s causing the issue. Your vet will conduct a physical examination followed by testing samples taken from your cat’s nose, throat or eyes to determine the cause of the infection.

Treatment for URIs in cats may include antibiotics, antiviral medication, and supportive care like hydration therapy. Your vet may also prescribe medications to help relieve symptoms such as coughing and sneezing.

In some cases, hospitalization may be necessary if your cat is severely ill or dehydrated. It is important to follow your vet’s treatment plan carefully and monitor your cat closely at home after they have been discharged from the clinic.


Preventing URIs in cats can be challenging because these infections are highly contagious. However, there are some steps you can take to reduce the risk of infection:

  • Keep your cat indoors: This will limit their exposure to other cats that may be carrying viruses or bacteria.
  • Regular vaccinations: Keep up with regular vaccination schedules for feline herpesvirus (FHV) and calicivirus.
  • Good hygiene practices: Wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling your cat. Clean any surfaces that come into contact with them regularly.
  • Reduce stress: Stress can weaken a cat’s immune system making them more susceptible to infections so try to keep their environment calm and comfortable.

Fungal Infections in Cats: Symptoms and Treatment

If you’ve noticed your cat sneezing more than usual, it could be a sign of a fungal infection. Fungal infections are common in cats and can cause various symptoms, including coughing, nasal discharge, and even respiratory distress.

Causes of Fungal Infections in Cats

Fungal infections in cats are caused by different types of fungi that can enter your cat’s body through various means. Some common ways that fungi can infect your cat include:

  • Inhalation: Your cat may inhale spores from contaminated soil or litter.
  • Skin contact: Your cat may come into contact with fungi on surfaces such as floors or walls.
  • Digestion: Your cat may ingest fungi from contaminated food or water.

Symptoms of Fungal Infections in Cats

The symptoms of fungal infections vary depending on the type of fungus involved and the severity of the infection. However, some common signs to look out for include:

  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Nasal discharge
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Lethargy
  • Fever

If you notice any of these symptoms in your cat, it’s important to seek veterinary care immediately.

Treatment Options for Fungal Infections in Cats

Treatment for fungal infections usually involves antifungal medications prescribed by a veterinarian. The specific medication used will depend on the type of fungus causing the infection. Supportive care such as oxygen therapy or IV fluids may be necessary if your cat is experiencing respiratory distress.

In addition to antifungal medications, there are several other treatments that may be recommended by your vet depending on the severity and underlying cause of the infection. These include:

  1. Treating underlying conditions: If your cat has an underlying condition that has weakened their immune system, such as feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), your vet may recommend treating that condition to help your cat fight off the fungal infection.
  2. Managing inflammation: In some cases, fungal infections can cause inflammation in your cat’s respiratory tract. Your vet may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications to reduce this inflammation and make it easier for your cat to breathe.
  3. Removing tumors: If a fungal infection has caused the growth of tumors in your cat’s respiratory tract, surgery may be necessary to remove them and improve breathing.

Other Causes of Sneezing in Cats

While fungal infections are a common cause of sneezing in cats, there are several other conditions that may also be responsible. These include:

  • Feline herpesvirus and calicivirus: These are viral infections that can cause upper respiratory symptoms such as sneezing and nasal discharge.
  • Bacterial infections: Flea bites or other types of bacterial infections can also lead to sneezing and may require antibiotics.
  • Allergies: Just like humans, cats can have allergies that cause sneezing and other respiratory symptoms.

Chronic Upper Respiratory Conditions in Cats

Cats are prone to upper respiratory conditions, which can cause sneezing, runny nose, and trouble breathing. These symptoms can be acute or chronic, with chronic conditions affecting feline airways and nasal passages.

Symptoms of Chronic Upper Respiratory Conditions

Chronic upper respiratory conditions can cause a range of symptoms that affect a cat’s quality of life. The most common symptoms include:

  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Trouble breathing
  • Coughing
  • Nasal discharge
  • Watery eyes

If your cat is experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s essential to take them to the vet for diagnosis and treatment.

Causes of Chronic Upper Respiratory Conditions

There are several causes of chronic upper respiratory conditions in cats. Some of the most common include:

Dental Disease

Dental disease can contribute to chronic upper respiratory conditions in cats. When a cat has dental problems, bacteria can enter their bloodstream and travel to their lungs, causing infections that lead to breathing difficulties.

Environmental Irritants

Dust and other environmental irritants can exacerbate breathing issues in cats. If your cat is exposed to cigarette smoke, household cleaners, or other irritants regularly, they may develop chronic upper respiratory conditions.

Feline Herpesvirus

Feline herpesvirus is a common cause of chronic upper respiratory conditions in cats. This virus attacks a cat’s immune system and can cause lifelong health problems.

Treatment Options for Chronic Upper Respiratory Conditions

The treatment for chronic upper respiratory conditions depends on the underlying cause. Here are some options that your vet may recommend:


If your cat has an infection caused by bacteria or viruses, antibiotics may be prescribed to help fight off the infection.


Using a humidifier can help alleviate symptoms of chronic upper respiratory conditions in cats. The added moisture in the air can help soothe your cat’s nasal passages, making it easier for them to breathe.


In some cases, steroids may be prescribed to reduce inflammation and swelling in your cat’s airways.


If dental disease is causing chronic upper respiratory conditions, surgery may be necessary to remove infected teeth or treat gum disease.

How to Help a Cat That is Sneezing

If you have noticed your cat sneezing frequently, it could be a sign of an underlying health issue. While occasional sneezing is normal for cats, persistent sneezing can be a cause for concern.

Keep your cat’s environment clean and free of irritants

One of the most common causes of sneezing in cats is exposure to irritants such as dust, pollen, or smoke. To reduce the chances of your cat getting exposed to these irritants, it’s essential to keep their environment clean.

  • Vacuum regularly: Regular vacuuming can help remove dust and other particles from carpets and upholstery that may trigger allergies in cats.
  • Use air purifiers: Air purifiers can help remove allergens from the air and provide relief for cats suffering from respiratory problems.
  • Avoid smoking around your cat: Second-hand smoke can cause respiratory problems in cats. If you’re a smoker, try quitting or at least avoid smoking near your pet.

Provide plenty of fresh water to keep your cat hydrated

Cats are prone to dehydration, which can lead to various health issues such as kidney problems and urinary tract infections. Providing fresh water is crucial for keeping your cat hydrated and maintaining their overall health.

  • Change water frequently: Make sure you change the water in your cat’s bowl daily.
  • Consider using a fountain: Some cats prefer drinking running water over still water. A fountain can encourage them to drink more.
  • Add wet food to their diet: Wet food contains more moisture than dry food and can help keep your cat hydrated.

Take your cat to the vet if sneezing persists or is accompanied by other symptoms

If you notice that your cat’s sneezing persists despite taking measures to reduce irritants, it’s time to take them to the vet. Sneezing can be a symptom of various health issues such as allergies, infections, or respiratory problems.

  • Look out for other symptoms: Besides sneezing, look out for other symptoms such as coughing, runny nose, or watery eyes.
  • Provide your vet with detailed information: Be prepared to provide your vet with detailed information about your cat’s symptoms and behavior.
  • Follow the prescribed treatment: If your cat is diagnosed with an underlying health issue, follow the prescribed treatment plan diligently.

Prevention and Conclusion

In conclusion, sneezing in cats can be caused by a variety of factors such as upper respiratory infections, fungal infections, and chronic conditions. As a cat owner, it is important to monitor your pet’s symptoms closely and seek veterinary care if necessary.

To prevent cat sneezing, make sure your cat is up-to-date on vaccinations and keep their living environment clean. Regularly cleaning litter boxes, bedding, and toys can help reduce the risk of infection.

Remember to provide your cat with a healthy diet and plenty of water to keep their immune system strong. If you notice any unusual symptoms or behavior in your cat, do not hesitate to contact your veterinarian for advice.


1. Is sneezing in cats always a sign of illness?

No, occasional sneezing can be normal for cats just like humans. However, persistent or frequent sneezing could indicate an underlying health issue that requires attention from a veterinarian.

2. Can I give my cat over-the-counter medications for sneezing?

No, it is never recommended to give human medications or over-the-counter drugs to cats without consulting with a veterinarian first. Certain medications can be toxic to cats and worsen their condition.

3. How often should I take my cat to the vet for check-ups?

It is recommended to take your cat for annual check-ups at the minimum. However, older cats or those with pre-existing conditions may require more frequent visits.

4. Can indoor cats still get respiratory infections?

Yes, indoor cats are still susceptible to respiratory infections as they can be carried through the air or on clothing/shoes brought into the home by people who have been around other animals.

5. Are certain breeds more prone to chronic respiratory issues?

Yes, flat-faced breeds such as Persians and Himalayans are more prone to chronic respiratory issues due to their shortened nasal passages. However, any breed of cat can develop respiratory issues.

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