what does it mean when my cat sneezes a lot

More often than not, the cause can be odd smells, like cleaning products or the cooking of spicy or pungent food. Dust, pollen, perfume, or cigarette smoke can also be triggers for sneezing. In some cases, it can also be the result of an infection, especially if your kitten has other symptoms.

When to See the Vet

You might want to just keep an eye on your cat for a few days if they only sneeze occasionally, show no other symptoms, or show very minor symptoms. Keep your cat indoors and watch for changes. However, if your cat sneezes frequently or constantly, sneezes blood, or exhibits other symptoms like those mentioned above, make sure to contact the veterinarian. They might indicate a disease or other issue that requires veterinary attention.

Treatment depends on the cause of the sneezing. In minor situations, the veterinarian might advise taking basic comfort measures for your cat, such as using a humidifier. In other situations, you might need to take steroids, antihistamines, fluids, or antibiotics. Surgery is rarely necessary for cats who don’t respond to medical therapy.


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.


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.


When should I worry about my cat sneezing?

Cats, like people and other animals, sneeze to clear irritating substances from their nasal passages. An occasional sneeze here or there is nothing to worry about, but sneezing that persists or is accompanied by other illness signs may indicate a problem.

How much is too much for a cat to sneeze?

It’s even normal for a cat to throw an occasional sneezing fit. However, it’s uncommon for a cat to sneeze several times a day for many days in a row. If sneezing persists – or if other symptoms develop along with sneezing – you may need to check with our veterinarians to see if treatment is required.

Will cat sneezing resolve on its own?

If your cat is only sneezing on occasion with either no other symptoms or very mild symptoms, you may be able to wait a day or two and simply monitor her for any changes. Kittens, on the other hand, should always be seen by a veterinarian when suffering from these types of symptoms.

Is it normal for cats to sneeze 5 times in a row?

However, if your cat is sneezing multiple times a day for several days or if other symptoms are present, contact your vet. If your cat is healthy and lets out the occasional sneeze, then you probably have nothing to worry about. Take your feline friend to the vet for a yearly physical or as recommended by your vet.