Why Do Cats Sneeze?

With a few online searches, you can discover dozens of cute videos of kittens sneezing. A quick exhaled expulsion of air is a common reaction of many species to irritants in the nasal passage, even humans!  And as you probably know, if a sneeze is accompanied by other symptoms, it may require more than just a “Bless you”. Continue reading to learn why your cat may be sneezing.

Why cats sneeze

Tickles or Allergies

Many different airborne irritants can cause sneezing in cats. It begins with a slight tickle, builds up to a full-on itch, and is finally released as a reflexive blast of air that curtails the irritation. Dust, strong smells such as deodorant, and pepper can all lead to bouts of sneezing from your cat or kitten. If it happens in a frequently used area, try wiping that particular spot down with warm water and mild detergent (one used for washing baby clothes is ideal).

Respiratory Infections

Another trait cats share with humans is the ability to catch viruses that can lead to colds. A cold is most likely the cause if the sneezing is accompanied by a cough or moist discharge coming from the nose and/or eyes. It could also be a fungal infection. If it has settled in the sinus cavities, it can cause acute nasal inflammation, coughing, and tearing or mucous in the eyes.

If you think your cat has caught a viral cold or fungal infection, it will display signs of illness such as:

  • Blood or mucous leaking from the nose
  • Discharge from the eyes
  • Decreased activity
  • Loss of appetite

You should make an appointment with the vet as soon as possible. Old school thinking sometimes advocates that the cat should be left alone to get over the illness without treatment, but this is no longer an accepted form of treatment.

Foreign Bodies

Sneezing is the only way your cat can dislodge an obstruction in their nasal passage. It might also display other signs of nasal obstruction such as rubbing its face on objects and furniture or wiping its paws on the face excessively. If the particle is not sneezed out, it could lead to a subsequent sinus infection. If you see this behavior for more than three days, get your feline friend to the vet.

Intranasal Vaccines

Intranasal vaccines are actually a very efficient way to administer a metered dosage into your pet. However, it can cause the animal to sneeze on a fairly frequent basis for the next few days. This doesn’t last, and your cat will be back to normal in no time at all.

If your cat’s sneezing has evolved from cute to worrying, you should always make an appointment and visit the vet. Careful observation can often shed light on the cause of the sneezing. For example, see if the sneezing happens when you wear a certain perfume or spray an air freshener,  and make a point to use these irritants when your pets are safely out of range.



4+ cats and 2 dogs over the past decade, loves to write, not a huge fan of coffee... but LOVES her pets! Read More
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