my cat is sneezing a lot


Cats, known for their grace and independence, occasionally exhibit behaviors that can concern their owners. One such behavior is sneezing. While an occasional sneeze is normal and often harmless, frequent or persistent sneezing can indicate underlying health issues. Understanding why a cat sneezes excessively is crucial for ensuring their well-being and knowing when to seek veterinary care.

What Causes Cats to Sneeze?

Sneezing in cats can stem from various factors, ranging from benign to potentially serious conditions. Understanding these causes can help identify the appropriate course of action:

Viral Infections

Viruses such as feline herpesvirus (FHV-1) and feline calicivirus (FCV) are common culprits of sneezing in cats. These viruses can cause upper respiratory infections (URIs), leading to symptoms like sneezing, nasal discharge, and conjunctivitis.

Bacterial Infections

Bacterial infections, such as those caused by Bordetella bronchiseptica or Mycoplasma spp., can also lead to sneezing in cats. These infections often accompany viral URIs or may occur independently, causing inflammation and respiratory symptoms.


Cats, like humans, can develop allergies to various environmental triggers such as pollen, dust mites, mold, or certain foods. Allergic reactions can manifest as sneezing, itching, and skin problems.

Foreign Objects

In some cases, sneezing may occur due to the presence of foreign objects lodged in the nasal passages. This could include grass seeds, dust particles, or even small toys that a curious cat may have sniffed or ingested.

Dental Issues

Dental diseases, particularly tooth root abscesses or gingivitis, can cause sinusitis and secondary sneezing due to the proximity of the nasal passages to the oral cavity.

Environmental Factors

Exposure to irritants such as cigarette smoke, strong perfumes, or household cleaners can irritate a cat’s sensitive respiratory system, leading to sneezing episodes.

Symptoms Accompanying Sneezing

While sneezing itself is a primary symptom, it’s essential to be vigilant for additional signs that could indicate a more serious condition:

Nasal Discharge

The type and color of nasal discharge can provide clues about the underlying cause. Clear and watery discharge may indicate a viral infection, while thick, purulent discharge could suggest bacterial involvement.


Inflammation of the eyes (conjunctivitis) often accompanies viral URIs in cats. Redness, discharge, and squinting are common signs that warrant veterinary attention.

Coughing or Wheezing

Persistent coughing or wheezing alongside sneezing may indicate lower respiratory tract involvement, such as bronchitis or asthma.


A cat with a fever (body temperature above 102.5°F or 39.2°C) may have an infection that requires veterinary treatment.

Veterinary Evaluation and Diagnosis

When a cat exhibits frequent or prolonged sneezing, a thorough veterinary evaluation is necessary to determine the underlying cause:

Physical Examination

The veterinarian will perform a comprehensive physical examination to assess the cat’s overall health and focus on the respiratory and oral areas.

Diagnostic Tests

Diagnostic tests may include nasal swabs, blood tests, radiographs (X-rays), or even rhinoscopy (direct visualization of the nasal cavity) to identify the cause of sneezing accurately.

Medical History

Providing a detailed medical history, including the onset and duration of symptoms, recent changes in environment, and vaccination status, can assist in diagnosing the condition.

Treatment Options

Treatment for sneezing in cats depends on the underlying cause identified through veterinary assessment:

Viral Infections

Antiviral medications may be prescribed to manage viral infections like FHV-1 or FCV. Supportive care, such as humidification and nutritional support, can also aid recovery.

Bacterial Infections

Antibiotics are typically administered to treat bacterial infections. The choice of antibiotic depends on the specific bacteria identified through diagnostic tests.


Identifying and avoiding allergens whenever possible is key. Symptomatic treatment, such as antihistamines or corticosteroids prescribed by a veterinarian, can alleviate allergic reactions.

Removal of Foreign Objects

In cases of nasal foreign bodies, surgical removal may be necessary under anesthesia to relieve symptoms and prevent complications.

Dental Treatment

Treating underlying dental issues, such as tooth extraction or dental cleaning, can resolve sneezing caused by dental disease.

Preventive Measures

Taking proactive steps to prevent sneezing episodes in cats can promote long-term health and well-being:


Ensuring cats are up-to-date on core vaccinations, including those for FHV-1 and FCV, can reduce the risk and severity of viral infections leading to sneezing.

Environmental Management

Maintaining a clean and hygienic living environment minimizes exposure to respiratory irritants and allergens. Regularly clean litter boxes, vacuum carpets, and avoid smoking indoors.

Nutritional Support

Providing a balanced diet rich in essential nutrients supports overall immune function and respiratory health in cats.


What should I do if my cat sneezes occasionally?

Occasional sneezing is usually harmless. Monitor your cat for any changes in behavior or additional symptoms.

When should I be concerned about my cat’s sneezing?

If sneezing is frequent, accompanied by nasal discharge, coughing, or other concerning symptoms, consult a veterinarian promptly.

Can cats transmit sneezing to humans?

While some cat illnesses can affect humans, most respiratory infections in cats are species-specific and do not pose a risk to humans.


In conclusion, while occasional sneezing in cats is normal, persistent or severe sneezing may indicate an underlying health issue that requires veterinary attention. By understanding the potential causes, recognizing accompanying symptoms, seeking timely veterinary care, and implementing preventive measures, cat owners can help ensure their feline companions enjoy optimal respiratory health and overall well-being.

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