Why Does My Cat Sneeze?

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You may hear the sound of a cat sneezing from time to time, and wonder why that is. Cats do sneeze like humans, but often, if they’re sneezing a lot, that means something is wrong. However, it’s not always the case, and here, you’ll learn the answer to the question of why my cat sneezes.

Just a Tickle

Just like with humans, sometimes if there is a tickle or a bit of dust, this can be cause for a sneeze. If you’ve ever seen the cartoon of the cat that sneezes when they smell a little pepper or have seen cats sneeze after sniffing something, this is mostly just them having a small irritant, and then they sneeze. So, you shouldn’t worry.

However, there might be times when your cat will sneeze, as in the case of the following:

  • They get into something they shouldn’t have
  • They sniff chemicals
  • They sniff dust
  • They smell smoke

So, try to not worry so much if it’s an occasional thing, but if they are sneezing in a space, make sure there aren’t irritants.


This is cause for alarm because obviously if they’re sneezing a lot, they could have a little cold in a sense. This is typical of cats that have the following:

  • Are young
  • Were recently coming from a shelter
  • Cats that don’t have their shots

This is why shots are important because they prevent these viral infections. The two most common viral infections are the following:

  • Feline herpes: This is from cats that are infected, and stress can cause a flare-up. Treatment is mostly just controlling the symptoms, and it isn’t contagious when it comes to humans
  • Feline calicivirus: this is very contagious among cats, and ulcers in the mouth are a common symptom, but it can lead to pneumonia if not treated

Other respiratory problems do happen if you notice them sneezing a lot, for example, one with feline herpes might also contract a bacterial infection as well. If you bring it to the vet, get some antibiotics, and take care of the cat, then they’ll be fine.

However, you should also watch out for the feline immunodeficiency virus, which does develop gradually, but leaves the system very compromised, and it can also lead to feline leukemia, which is a fatal infection in many cases. Cats can even develop chlamydia, so if you hear the sound of sneezing constantly, take the little guy in.

Irritants and Allergens

This is a little different from a tickle and can happen a lot, especially if the irritant lingers around. You should consider this one if you’ve already brought it to the vet and ruled out the others.

Just like humans, cats can have irritants that bother them too. You should look for various patterns that go with this because usually, this is more of a pattern-type thing.

Some of the most common causes of irritants and allergens are the following:

  • Cigarettes and cigarette smoke
  • Pest sprays and bug repellant
  • Candles
  • Any cleaning agents
  • Perfumes or other fragrances
  • Pollen
  • Mold
  • Dust

The best way to treat this one is to look at the area, and you should definitely look for what is causing it, and then go from there. During the spring, if your cat is outdoors, pollen might be an issue, allergies are less common in cats than humans, but it does happen from time to time.

Foreign Bodies

This is more of a nasal infection, and if you do notice this, you should check to make sure that nothing is stuck in the cat’s nose. If your cat likes to go outside, this may be a common cause, because the following happens:

  • They find a blade of grass or awns
  • They get into the nose
  • The cat tries to sneeze it out
  • It can or cannot be expelled

If it is expelled, then great, so don’t worry so much about it. But, if you start to notice that the cat isn’t getting it out, you should make sure to bring them to the vet to get the right treatment.

Dental Issues

Cat dental health is important, and dental disease can set in, especially if you notice that your cat is sneezing a lot. It usually is a root infection if they’re sneezing quite a bit. Infections are important to stop because if you don’t, it creates the following:

  • Bacteria will come in
  • It will cause sinus issues
  • The cat will have inflammation
  • They will sneeze
  • It can cause other infections as well

While you typically don’t brush a cat’s teeth, it is still important to take care of the teeth that your cat has. Some of the different ways to make sure that they’re taken care of include the following:

  • Get the food that helps with their oral health
  • Bring them to the vet if you notice issues
  • Try not to give them anything with too many sugars

Remember, cats can have dental issues too, and it’s important that you make sure that you take care of them whenever you notice something is wrong with your cat.

Intranasal vaccines

 Intranasal vaccines can cause a cat to sneeze for several days, and if you are treating that condition, you should make sure that you don’t worry too much about it. Generally, it only lasts a few days, and vaccines usually are in the system shortly after.

You may give your cat one of these if they do already have a respiratory infection. Just like with humans whenever we get vaccines, sometimes cats can react to these as well, so you should make sure that you don’t worry too much if you notice it happening right after that. Remember, they’re trying to get used to the vaccine as well, and it may cause reactions in them.

Other Signs

Sometimes, when a cat sneezes other signs are there, and other conditions. If there is an infection or inflammation, usually you’ll notice your cat sneeze, but there are also other conditions and factors that can be present too. Sneezing in some rare cases can be a sign of cancer.

But, while sneezing is usually one of the main signs your cat gives to the owner that something is wrong if you pay attention to other factors, this can lead you to figure out if it’s just a tickle, or something else.

Some of the other signs that something may be wrong are the following:

  • Eye discharge, ulcers, or swelling
  • A lot of nasal discharge with it, not just an explosive sneeze
  • Discharge that is either yellow or green
  • Feeling depressed
  • Acting fatigued
  • Excessive drooling
  • Fever
  • Less of an appetite
  • The feeling of larger lymph nodes when touched
  • A wheezing or coughing sound that tags onto the back of the sneeze
  • Their coat looked bad
  • Issues with breathing
  • Diarrhea or other excretory issues

If you do notice any of these other symptoms, it’s certainly not just the cat getting something in its nose, but something major, and you should always seek out a vet if you do notice these things.

Do Cats Get Colds? 

Sneezing often is seen as a “cold” for a cat, but you have to remember, that viruses that cause colds are specific to species, so usually if your cat is sick, you won’t get sick, and vice versa. No, the cat won’t get sick if you are, although some of the bacteria associated with these “colds” tend to look very similar to those that humans get.

Cat colds often are similar to human colds because of the following:

  • Sneezing is your main sign
  • The cat may be tired or acting out of it
  • They may wheeze as well

But, unlike a human cold, which usually unless it’s the flu will get better with time, a cat won’t get better in many cases without an antibiotic, because these bacterial infections are potent, and if there is a virus, they need to be vaccinated. It’s a lot more complex and much riskier for the feline than it is for a mere human, who can probably get fully better in a couple of weeks so long as their immune system isn’t compromised.

How to Handle a Sneezing Cat 

So how do you handle a cat that’s sneezing? Well, there are a few things that you should do.

  • First, keep their nose and eyes clear of any discharge that they have by using a paper towel or a cloth and have some warm water on it
  • If they’re not eating, get some warmed cat food or even meat baby food for the cat to eat
  • Always get them plenty of water to drink
  • Consult the vet on medication, and don’t give the cat any sort of medication without asking the vet since most human medications are toxic for kitties
  • If you notice that the cat isn’t eating, has a fever, or has other symptoms, take them to the vet immediately
  • Get a vaporizer that pushes out moist and warm air to help the nasal passages and drain them.
  • If the cat isn’t drinking water, you’ll need to take it to the vet to give them fluid therapy, nutrition, and other treatments so they can continue their recovery.
  • If your cat is seen by a vet and gotten treated, but it’s still not getting better, you might need to go see a vet that will give a better and more aggressive form of treatment
  • Once you’ve got your cat back, continue your medications as directed by the vet, and continue to monitor the cold and make sure that they are eating, since they may not do so

You should, if you feel like it’s getting worse, always see a vet to get the proper prognosis and to make sure your furry friend is treated.

Prevention is key!

Bring your cat to the vet once a year while you can’t prevent your cat from sneezing if they have a tickle, all of these can be prevented if you do the right actions. There are some actions that you should take, and they are the following:

  • When you do, make sure that you get the vaccine for the feline herpes virus and the feline calicivirus
  • Make sure that once you have the injections, you also get any boosters as needed
  • Find out, if they’re sneezing due to allergens, and what’s irritating them, and rectify it accordingly
  • Go to the vet, and get any help that you need if you notice that your cat is still not progressing, or if you feel like something is wrong

As a pet owner, you are responsible for their overall health and well-being. You need to make sure that you prevent it in its tracks so that it doesn’t create more issues for your cat in the future.


A Sneeze Can Be Bigger than You Think! 

If you hear your pet sneeze, and it’s just a one-time thing, then it’s not a cause for alarm. But, if you begin to notice that your cat is sneezing a lot, and there are other symptoms there, then chances are, it might be in your best interest to go see someone regarding this. A sneeze is something you shouldn’t wait on, and by seeing a vet who can hook you up with shots and boosters that will assist you with your cat’s health, along with the appropriate antibiotics, you’ll be able to successfully prevent your cat from getting worse, and you can combat any problems that might be there that your feline is dealing with.

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