BluePearl Animal Hospital: Why Is My Cat Sneezing?

Cat sneezing Cat sneezes are adorable, but are they ever a serious problem? Like their human owners, felines are susceptible to viral respiratory infections. There are, however, other causes of those endearing sneezes to bear witness to.

My Cat Keeps Sneezing—What Gives?

There are many potential triggers for a sneeze in a cat, including:

  • Just a light tickle to the nose That's something each of us has experienced.
  • Unpleasant odor, typically caused by chemicals
  • Particles in the air, including dust
  • Anything that doesn't belong, such as lint, grass, or a hair
  • An upper- or lower-air-way infection
  • Sinusitis and/or nasal inflammation.
  • Sinus drainage due to tooth infection or inflammation.

To what cause does feline sneezing owe its existence? Is There a Regularity

Cat sneezing An occasional sneeze is probably nothing to worry about; it could be that something in the air is irritating her nasal passage. If it's not an isolated incident, try to establish a pattern: does it occur at the same time each day? Is there a specific place or time when it occurs, such as during family gatherings?   Your cat may be sneezing because of an allergen, like dust or perfume, or it may be a symptom of an infection or other underlying condition, so it's helpful to keep track of when it happens.

Your cat may be allergic to a chemical in the bathroom cleaning supplies or to dust in the litter if you notice he sneezes more when you clean the bathroom or after he uses his own bathroom.  

On the other hand, you should be concerned if your cat is sneezing frequently, has eye or nasal discharge, is lethargic, and has lost its appetite. If your cat is sneezing and showing other symptoms, it may be time to take it to the vet. It could be suffering from an upper respiratory infection or something more serious.  

The Importance of Visiting a Veterinarian

Veterinarian listening to cat's heart. There may be no need to rush to the vet if your cat's sneezing is intermittent and her other symptoms are mild. Contrarily, whenever a kitten exhibits such symptoms, it is imperative that they be examined by a vet.

A trip to the vet is warranted for diagnosis and treatment if the sneezing continues or is accompanied by other symptoms. It's crucial that you do this if your cat has suddenly stopped eating. Cats with upper respiratory conditions often lose their appetite because they can't smell or taste anything and can't breathe through their nose. Difficulty swallowing can be a symptom of a number of different medical conditions.

When compared to humans, whose bodies can go without food for weeks or even months, a cat's body enters starvation mode after only two to three days. An extremely dangerous and even fatal condition called A buildup of fat in the liver (also known as hepatic lipidosis1hepatic lipidosis). liver fatty disease Antibiotics, anti-nausea medications, and appetite stimulants may be prescribed after intravenous fluids and nutritional support have been administered.

What Makes Cats Cough and Sneeze

Infections of the Upper Airway

Owner petting sick cat When a cat has an upper respiratory infection (URI), one of the symptoms is sneezing. Upper respiratory infections (URIs), also known as the "common cold" or the "cat flu," can have a variety of causes, including viruses, bacteria, and even fungi (though the latter two are much less common).

The typical course of treatment for a simple case of this infection takes between 10 and 17 days.  


In cats, upper respiratory infection symptoms often include:

  • Frequent sneezing that lasts for hours or even days
  • Discharge that is not clear, yellow, green, or bloody from the nose or eyes.
  • Coughing and/or swallowing repeatedly
  • Fatigue or illness
  • Loss of appetite and/or hydration

Kittens and senior cats, cats that have never been vaccinated, cats with compromised immune systems, and cats that live in unsanitary conditions all have a greater risk of developing upper respiratory infections. The high contagiousness of many of the viruses responsible for these diseases means that they can quickly spread from one infected animal to another, making shelters and multi-cat households particularly at risk.


The severity of an upper respiratory infection determines how it is treated. Mild cases of URIs typically clear up after two weeks without treatment. However, there are situations in which further treatment, such as:

  • Antibiotics and antiviral drugs
  • Lotions for the eyes and/or nose
  • Steroids
  • In the event of dehydration, fluids administered subcutaneously.

I.V. fluids and nutritional support may be part of the intensive care that is only possible in a hospital setting for the most severe cases. Upper respiratory infections can cause further complications if not treated, including pneumonia, chronic breathing problems, and even blindness.

If you think your cat has a cold or the flu, here are some quick fixes to try:

  • Remove discharge from your cat's nose and face on a regular basis by wiping them with warm, moist cotton.
  • If your cat won't eat, try heating up some canned food.
  • Ensure that your cat always has access to clean water.
  • Keep your cat's nasal passages moist by using a humidifier.  

Sinusitis and Nasal Congestion

Owner wiping cat's nose Inflammatory conditions such as rhinitis and sinusitis are also common in cats. Inflammation of the nasal mucous membranes, or rhinitis, causes the classic "stuffy nose," while inflammation of the sinus lining, or sinusitis, causes facial pain and pressure.

"Rhinosinusitis" is a term used to describe the combination of sinusitis and a virus or bacteria that causes an upper respiratory infection, both of which are common in cats.


Cats with rhinitis or sinusitis often exhibit symptoms such as frequent sneezing and nasal discharge.

  • Nasal discharge that is clear in mild cases OR is yellow, green, or bloody in severe cases
  • Excessive effort in breathing, snoring, or mouth breathing
  • Gently licking the face
  • Eyes watering and tearing
  • Nasal clearing by inhaling quickly and deeply backwards (the "reverse sneeze").
  • Nasal bridge bump (if fungal infection is to blame).


The symptoms of rhinitis and sinusitis in cats can be difficult to spot without a thorough medical history review and physical examination. While a nasal wash can be used to collect samples, a rhinoscopy (the insertion of a tiny endoscope into the nose or mouth to get a better look at the nasal structure) may also be necessary.

In addition to a nasal flush and broad-spectrum antibiotics for treating or preventing bacterial infections, a course of steroids may be prescribed to help open up the airways in the nose and sinuses. In severe cases, intravenous nutrition and fluids may be required.

Conditions that Persist in the Upper Airway

cat sneezing Chronic respiratory diseases are another possible cause of chronic and persistent sneezing in cats. Most people suffer from chronic rhinitis, which is caused by long-term problems with their immune systems and nasal passages.  


Chronic upper respiratory conditions in cats manifest with signs that are similar to those of upper respiratory infections and inflammation but last for longer than a few weeks. Recurrent bacterial infections are a common trigger for conditions like chronic rhinitis, exacerbating already distressing symptoms.

Indicators of:

  • Weakness in the knees and frequent sneezing
  • Itchy, watery eyes and a stuffy nose
  • The discharge from your nose is thick and yellow.
  • Disturbance of eating habits
  • Experiencing drooling and dysphagia
  • Severe or mild discharge from one or both eyes

Cats are more likely to develop chronic upper respiratory conditions after recovering from severe acute viral infections like feline calicivirus and feline herpesvirus. Due to stress, illness, or immunosuppression, they are also at a higher risk of experiencing virus reactivation.

Possible Courses of Treatment

In order to get to the bottom of chronic conditions, more research is required.

  • Diagnosing infectious diseases with a blood or urine test
  • Imaging scans (CT or MRI) or conventional X-rays of the nasal, pharyngeal, and thoracic cavities
  • Use of a nasoscope, or rhinoscope, to examine the nasal passages and structures more
  • Nasal swabs to check for the presence of bacteria or viruses.

Since chronic upper respiratory conditions in cats currently have no cures, treatment typically consists of symptom management through regular veterinary visits and medication.


cat sneezing outside Sneezing in cats is rarely brought on by allergies like they are in people. Hair loss, itching, and other skin irritations are more typical manifestations of the condition. However, some felines experience additional symptoms, such as itchy and watery eyes, coughing, sneezing, and wheezing, especially during the spring and summer. cats with asthmaAsthmatic kitties  

Allergic rhinitis, or "hay fever" in its human form, can be seasonal if caused by pollen or other outdoor allergens or chronic if caused by indoor allergens like dust and mold.

Choices in Medical Care

Allergies in cats have no known treatment at this time. But with the help of a treatment plan designed by your regular vet or a veterinary dermatology specialistanimal dermatologist Vaccines and other medications, as well as dietary adjustments, may be necessary.  


Sneezing in cats has been linked to the administration of certain vaccines, including those meant to ward off upper respiratory infections. However, in most cases, symptoms disappear after a few days on their own.

Anticipate the onset of a cold and prepare for it.

Veterinarian giving injection to an orange cat

Avoidance is, without a doubt, preferable to cure. You can save your cat from a lifetime of sniffles by taking some extra precautions.

Vaccinating your cat at the intervals recommended by your family veterinarian is a great way to protect him or her from potentially dangerous viruses. Talk to your family vet if you have any concerns about your cat's health. Seeing a doctor for that is why they are there.

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