Cat Sneezing Explained – What Makes Cats Sneeze?

Russell Cargill

Curious about the reason your cat might be sneezing? A cat sneezing is usually nothing to worry about but, there are a few things consider. 

Obviously, we all sneeze from time to time for no apparent reason and our cats are no different. If your cat is sneezing on a regular occasion then this could be a sign that something is up.  

In this article you’ll learn all about why cats sneeze and what signs to look for should anything be wrong. 

Is Cat Sneezing Serious? 

The occasional sneeze from your kitty, dog or baby is no real concern. Just like us, sneezing in cats is natural and nothing but a rush of air being released through the nose or mouth. 

It can be a natural response to irritants in the air or nasal passage. Believe it or not, excitement in a cat can even cause them to sneeze. 

If your cat has a persistent sneeze that won’t go away, or you notice any discharge from their nose after sneezing, then this is a cause for concern. It may require you to get them checked out by your local Vet. 

Causes Of Cat Sneezing

If your cat has a persistent sneeze your veterinarian will be able to diagnose the cause based on a review of your kitty. 

There are many causes but one of the main factors is infection. If deemed necessary your vet will take swabs from their mouth, nose, throat, or eyes. They’ll send this off to a lab to have it tested to confirm the infection if any. 

Irritants or allergens in the air are enough to make our cat sneeze.


A reoccurring sneeze is likely to be a symptom of a viral, bacterial or fungal infection. The most common would be an upper respiratory infection, similar to the common cold in a human. 

Typically it will be young kittens that are more susceptible to these infections as their immune system is still developing. It’s especially common for cats who come from a cat adoption shelter where they are surrounded by many other cats. 

Most infections in cats are easily prevented by having them vaccinated early by your local vet. 

Below is a list of the most common viral infections that cause cat sneezing. 

  • Feline herpes
  • Bordetella
  • Feline calicivirus
  • Mycoplasma
  • Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV)
  • Chlamydia
  • Feline infectious peritonitis
  • Feline Leukemia

Some of these infections are highly contagious to other cats, and can often lead to a secondary infection. Some infections can be life threatening and even fatal, that is why it’s important to seek medical advice as soon as possible. 

Allergens and Irritants

This is likely the cause of a one time out of the blue sneeze. It’s likely caused by the nasal passage being irritated by something in the air. 

Something to look out for is if your cat develops a pattern of sneezing. If you notice they sneeze right after they use the litter box, this could be a sign that the litter irritates them. 

Potential irritants that can cause a cat to sneeze are: 

  • Dust
  • Pollen
  • Perfume
  • Mold
  • Cat litter
  • Cleaning products
  • Pest spray

Here’s a cute video of a kitty experiencing a little bit of a sneezing fit. Poor little guy!!

When Should I Worry About My Cat Sneezing?

If you notice any of the following symptoms, you should seek advice from your local vet right away. 

  • Drooling
  • Diarrhea
  • Eye discharge, swelling, or ulcers
  • Fatigue or depression
  • Decreased appetite or weight loss
  • Excessive nasal discharge, this can be yellow or green in color 
  • Wheezing

Pay close attention to your cat’s nasal discharge if they are often sneezing. Should you see any colored discharge this is a sure sign of infection. 

Cat sneezing can also be related to nasal cavity issues or disorder. 

What Should I Do If My Cat Keeps Sneezing?

By now you know the occasional sneeze shouldn’t be too much of a concern however if it’s repeated and they are showing symptoms mentioned above there are a couple of things to do right away. 

Keep your cat indoors and monitor them closely, if their health is of concern then you should definitely get them to your local vet for treatment. 

Don’t worry, cat flu can’t be passed onto humans or dogs!

Treatment for any symptoms caused by your cat sneezing are usually quick and easy to fix. Having your cats vaccinated early should prevent your cat from cat flu. 

Treatment is not always required and your vet might suggest just keeping your cat comfortable and the symptoms will pass on their own. 

The most common treatment is a course of antibiotics, steroids or fluids as needed. A nasal decongestant might be used in treatment to provide quick relief for your cat.

Upper Respiratory Infections

Cats and kittens that go unvaccinated can develop an upper respiratory infection. A cat that sneezes repeatedly is a symptom of infection and could be what’s known as “cat flu”.

A vet will diagnose an infection with a physical exam or x-ray. Depending on the severity of the infection your vet may suggest to let your cat recover by themselves with some good care. 

They may provide your cat with antibiotics to avoid any secondary infections such as pneumonia. Always consult your local vet if you have any concerns. 

Keep your cat’s fluids intake up and try to make sure they are getting enough food. If your cat has gone a day or two and rejected any fluids or food, take them to your vet right away. They may just need a helping hand with eating and fluids via therapy. 

I can’t stress enough how important it is to make sure your cat is vaccinated correctly to help avoid any of these issues in the first place. 


It’s common to assume your cat sneezing can be attributed to simple cat allergies, but this is usually uncommon. Cat allergies are typically towards pollutants, pollen, dust mites, etc. 

Conclusion On Cat Sneezing

If you notice your cat sneezing don’t panic and check around them for any possible causes in the moment. Remove anything that could be causing them to sneeze such as a dusty kitty litter. 

If you need a list of the best cat litter, I’ve put together a list of the best cat litter for your kitty. 

If they continue to sneeze and you notice any discharge you know what to do. Get them to your local vet asap and have them looked at. 

Only your vet can give a proper diagnosis as to why your kitty may be sneezing more than usual. 

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