Why Is My Cat Sneezing? 8 Common Reasons

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Last Updated: October 31st, 2023

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As a cat owner, you might be wondering “Why is my cat sneezing?” Here are 8 common reasons for cat’s sneezing.

why is my cat sneezing? a portrait of a long haired cat sneezing.

Cats can sneeze for a variety of reasons, ranging from benign to more serious. If your cat is sneezing every now and then, it’s a completely natural and healthy behavior. Much like us humans, cats also occasionally sneeze and that is not a health concern. However, if your cat’s sneezing seems out of the ordinary and you noticed a pattern of more frequent sneezing, your cat might be suffering from one of these health problems.

8 Common Causes For Cat’s Sneezing

Here are eight possible reasons why your cat might be sneezing more than usual.


Similar to humans, cats can have allergies to a variety of substances, including pollen, mold, dust, perfumes, cleaning agents, or even certain foods. Allergies can cause sneezing as well as other symptoms like itchy skin or eyes.

If your cat is exhibiting frequent sneezing, persistent itching leading to excessive scratching or hair loss, watery or itchy eyes, repeated ear infections, nasal discharge, or even symptoms of respiratory distress such as coughing or wheezing, it may be suffering from allergies. Some cats may also display signs of discomfort in their paws, such as chewing or swelling, and in rarer cases, gastrointestinal issues like vomiting or diarrhea can indicate food allergies. Recognizing these signs is crucial, as they warrant a visit to the veterinarian who can diagnose the specific type of allergy and recommend appropriate treatments, which might range from antihistamines and corticosteroids to dietary adjustments. Identifying and managing your cat’s allergies is key to ensuring their comfort and well-being.

British blue cat sneezing in the garden of tulips

Upper Respiratory Infections (URIs)

These are among the most common causes of sneezing in cats and can be caused by viruses like feline herpesvirus and feline calicivirus, or bacteria.

If your cat is exhibiting persistent sneezing, nasal discharge that can range from clear to colored or bloody, signs of nasal congestion such as open-mouth breathing or snorting noises, and discharge from the eyes that may be watery or pus-like, it could be suffering from an upper respiratory infection (URI). These symptoms, especially when combined with additional signs like a decreased appetite, lethargy, coughing, or fever, strongly suggest that your cat might have a URI. This condition is relatively common in felines and can be caused by a variety of viruses or bacteria. If you notice these symptoms in your cat, it’s important to consult a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. Early intervention can help alleviate your cat’s discomfort and prevent more serious complications.

cat at the vet

Foreign Bodies

A small object or particle such as a blade of grass, a hair, or dust could become lodged in your cat’s nasal passages, leading to irritation and sneezing as your cat tries to expel it. A foreign body can be a small, non harmful object, like a hair and your cat will probably get rid of it on it’s own. However, if you suspect there is a larger and more dangerous object in your cat’s nasal passages, you may need vet’s assistance.

If you suspect that your cat has a harmful foreign body in its nose, it’s crucial to avoid attempting to remove it yourself, as this could cause further harm or push the object deeper. Instead, focus on keeping your cat calm and observe for signs of distress, such as pawing at the nose, sneezing, or nasal discharge. Avoid using any home remedies or tools to dislodge the object. The safest course of action is to contact your veterinarian immediately for professional assistance. They have the proper tools and expertise to safely remove the object. If your cat is trying to paw at its nose and causing self-injury, you may need to gently restrain it or use an Elizabethan collar for protection.

Dental Disease

Dental issues, such as periodontal disease or tooth abscesses, can cause sneezing. Infections in the teeth or gums can spread to the nasal sinus passages.

Detecting dental disease in cats requires vigilance, as they are adept at masking pain. Key indicators include bad breath, difficulty eating or a sudden preference for softer food, visible tartar or discoloration on the teeth, red or swollen gums, and drooling or pawing at the mouth. A study published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery (2016) found that dental disease is extremely common in cats, with a prevalence of over 70% in those over three years of age, highlighting the importance of regular dental check-ups. If you observe any of these signs, a veterinary examination is crucial to assess your cat’s oral health, as dental issues can lead to more severe systemic problems if left untreated.


Many common household items and substances can act as irritants to cats, some of which include essential oils and diffusers that emit strong fragrances, cleaning agents like bleach and ammonia, which not only have potent odors but can also be toxic, and cigarette smoke, which can cause respiratory distress. Perfumes and air fresheners can be overpowering and irritating to a cat’s sensitive olfactory system. It’s crucial for cat owners to be aware of these potential irritants and toxins and to use such products with caution, ensuring their furry companions are not harmfully exposed to them.

funny cat sneezing

Dry Air

In some cases, excessively dry air can irritate the nasal passages and cause sneezing. This is more common in winter months when indoor heating systems are drying the air.

Dry air can affect cats similarly to how it impacts humans. Signs that the air in your home might be too dry for your feline friend include increased static electricity, leading to small shocks when they touch you or objects. Your cat might also have dry, flaky skin. If you notice that your own skin, eyes, or throat are dry, it’s likely that the air is also affecting your cat in a similar way. Maintaining a humidity level between 30% and 50% is generally comfortable for both humans and pets, and using a humidifier can help achieve this balance during dry months.

Fungal Infections

Less common than bacterial or viral infections, fungal infections can also cause sneezing and other respiratory symptoms.

Recognizing a fungal infection in cats involves looking for symptoms such as scaly, circular skin lesions with hair loss, respiratory issues like sneezing or nasal discharge, ear infections indicated by redness and discharge, and changes in behavior such as lethargy or loss of appetite. Another sign can be eye inflammation with discharge. If you observe any of these symptoms in your cat, a visit to the vet is crucial for accurate diagnosis and effective treatment, which may range from topical ointments to oral antifungal medications.

Nasal Tumors

Though less common, nasal tumors can cause chronic sneezing, nasal discharge, and sometimes nosebleeds.

Recognizing a nasal tumor in cats can be challenging, as the symptoms often resemble those of less serious conditions. Persistent signs such as chronic nasal discharge that may be bloody or purulent, frequent sneezing, snoring or noisy breathing and facial deformity or swelling can be indicative of a nasal tumor. Cats may also exhibit behavioral changes like reduced appetite or lethargy. Due to the gradual progression and internal location of these tumors, they can be difficult to detect early. If you notice any persistent or worsening respiratory symptoms in your cat, it’s essential to seek veterinary’s help.


If your cat is sneezing occasionally and seems to be in good health otherwise, it’s probably not a cause for concern. Remember, if the sneezing is persistent, accompanied by other symptoms (like discharge from the eyes or nose, loss of appetite, or lethargy), or if you suspect there’s something stuck in your cat’s nose, it’s important to consult a veterinarian to determine the cause and appropriate treatment.

If you liked this article, make sure to check our article on “why do cats like boxes.”



Maja Sebenik is a proud owner of a Dachshund named Bimba. With three years of experience working as a researcher for a pet magazine, Maja's love for animals runs deep. Through her heartfelt writing, Maja shares practical tips, advice, and heartwarming anecdotes to inspire fellow pet lovers. Join her on a journey to explore the wonders of the animal kingdom, one paw at a time.

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