what does it mean if my cat is sneezing

A cat with allergies or a cold may start to sneeze, and cats can be infected with viruses, pathogens, and bacteria that can all cause these problems. If your cat is sneezing a lot for several days or if she shows other signs of being sick, you should take her to the veterinarian to be examined.


Toxin exposure (such as rat poison) and offensive odors (like chemicals) are the first things that spring to mind when we think of external irritants. However, supposedly non-threatening household products can also trigger sneezing.

For example:

  • Cooking spices can irritate a cat’s sensitive nose; pepper and cinnamon are two common sources. This is especially true if the cat is interested in what’s going on in the kitchen.
  • Products for cleaning the home, such as those containing vinegar, bleach, or other chemicals
  • 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.

Various foreign objects get stuck in the noses of curious cats.

  • Objects like lint, grass or a hair.
  • Airborne bodies such as pollen, or other allergens.
  • Dust and other airborne particles such as smoke.

Cats react to inhaling these particles by sneezing to get rid of the foreign debris, just like humans do. Sneezing won’t get rid of the lodged material, so schedule an appointment at our veterinary clinic right away.

If your cat is sneezing more than normal, it’s more than likely that your feline friend has an upper respiratory infection or URI. The most widespread respiratory infection is Feline Herpesvirus or FHV. It’s estimated that as many as 80-90% of all cats are infected with FHV.

The majority of cats are long-term carriers of upper respiratory viruses because they were exposed to them as kittens. Cats that experience stress or immunosuppression may potentially reactivate the dormant virus. 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, despite new research suggesting that current medications may help.

Other viral infections that can contribute to sneezing cats include Calicivirus (which the FVRCP combo vaccine provides protection against) and influenza.

Common symptoms of upper respiratory infection (URI) in cats include:

  • Repeated sneezing over several hours or days
  • an irregular discharge from the nose or eyes that can appear yellow, green, or bloody
  • Recurrent coughing or swallowing
  • Lethargy and/or fever
  • Dehydration and/or decreased appetite; weight loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Enlarged lymph nodes

As the Pet Health Network notes, “dental disease can cause sneezing particularly involving root infections. Infections of the feline tooth can allow bacteria to establish in the nasal sinus with resulting inflammation and sneezing.”

It surprises a lot of pet parents to learn that dental disease can cause cats to sneeze. Like most things, sneezing is a sign of a more serious problem. The nasal passages are directly adjacent to the root canals of the teeth in the upper jaw. The barrier that separates the nasal passage from the tooth hole can be breached in the event of an infection or severe inflammation affecting one or more teeth. Bacteria can spread to other areas of the body if they are not treated.

This condition is generally painful and serious. It is highly advised that you take your cat to the vet if you think that it may have dental problems.

If your cat is sneezing a lot and you notice a yellow or green discharge coming from their eyes or nose, it’s definitely a bacterial infection.

Bacterial infections in cats almost always take on a secondary role following nasal passage damage caused by a respiratory virus or other medical condition. Bacteria are always opportunists, seizing the chance to exploit the gaps in the defenses that shield cats from these kinds of assaults.

As with most sneezing symptoms, neoplasia (tumors) is always on the list of possible reasons, in older cats especially. Aberrant (cancer) cells can grow inside the nasal passage, creating irritation and inflammation that causes the cat to sneeze. These tumors are typically detected visually via rhinoscopy or a nasal biopsy. When present, the diagnosis, regrettably, usually results in very poor outcomes.

Although relatively rare compared to viral or bacterial infections, fungal infections are a known cause of sneezing in cats. A fungus – known as Cryptococcus – is the most common offender.

A physical examination is usually insufficient to differentiate a fungal infection from other possible causes of feline sneezing; a rhinoscopy or biopsy is usually required to make a firm diagnosis.

Why is my cat sneezing?

A persistent upper respiratory tract infection, typically caused by viruses like feline herpesvirus and feline calicivirus, is the most common cause of sneezing in cats. Although humans cannot contract either of these viruses, cats can spread them to one another. Stress frequently makes infection symptoms worse or increases the spread of infection among cats.

Treatment for cat flu and colds focuses on managing symptoms while your cat fights the infection. Antibiotics can be used to treat secondary bacterial infections that are occasionally caused by viral infections. Although they are less common, cats can also get fungal infections in their noses. However, keep in mind that your reliable veterinarian must diagnose and oversee the treatment of any problem affecting your cat.

Cats do not typically sneeze due to allergies, unlike people, but they may if they breathe in something irritating. Tobacco smoke, dusty cat litter, perfume, cleaning solutions, mold, dust, pollen, and even candles are examples of potential irritants.

When your cat sneezes, pay attention to when it happens and try to figure out what might be causing it. For example, does it happen right after you change the cat litter or while you are cleaning the house?

Cats who sneeze frequently may also have tooth root infections that are draining into their sinuses, as well as inhaled foreign objects like grass blades or even polyps and tumors in their nasal passages.


The same particles in the air that cause humans to sneeze, such as dust, smoke, or even their own cat fur, also cause our feline friends to sneeze.

Sneezing is a normal, biological function when it occurs infrequently. Cats are known to occasionally have fits of sneezing. On the other hand, a cat rarely sneezes multiple times per day for several days in a row. You may need to consult with our veterinarians to determine whether treatment is necessary if the sneezing continues or if additional symptoms appear in addition to the sneezing.

Still, there may be more significant causes for your cat’s sneezing.