Occasional sneezing is completely normal for our feline friends. It's their way of removing irritants or foreign particles from their noses. However, it's important to be aware of any changes in their sneezing patterns. If your cat won’t stop sneezing or is sneezing more than usual, it could be a sign that something else is going on. 

Read on to delve into the causes of cat sneezing and when it may indicate a potential issue.  

6 Common Causes of Cat Sneezing

Sneezing in cats can have various causes, including allergies, viral respiratory infections, bacterial upper respiratory infections, inhaled irritants, nasal polyps or tumors, and dental problems. Here is a breakdown of each cause:

1. Allergies

Cats can develop allergies to environmental factors such as pollen, dust mites, mold, or certain chemicals, triggering sneezing.

2. Viral respiratory infections

Feline herpesvirus and calicivirus are common viral infections that affect cats' respiratory systems, leading to sneezing, nasal discharge, and other symptoms.

3. Bacterial infections

Bacterial upper respiratory infections (URIs), caused by bacteria like Bordetella, Mycoplasma, and Chlamydophila, can result in sneezing, nasal discharge, coughing, and respiratory distress.

4. Foreign objects or irritants

Inhaled irritants like dust, smoke, or strong odors can irritate a cat's nasal passages and cause sneezing.

5. Nasal polyps or tumors

Abnormal growths in the nasal passages, such as polyps or tumors, can provoke sneezing in cats.

6. Dental problems

Dental issues, like infected teeth or gum disease, may cause referred pain to the nasal area and trigger sneezing.

It's important to consult a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis if your cat is experiencing persistent sneezing or other concerning symptoms.

When to Seek Veterinary Care

If you observe any of the following symptoms along with sneezing, it is advisable to seek veterinary attention:

  • Persistent or frequent sneezing: If your cat's sneezing becomes frequent and doesn't seem to resolve over time, it may be a cause for concern.
  • Nasal discharge: Keep an eye out for any abnormal nasal discharge, such as mucus or blood. Excessive or persistent discharge can indicate an underlying issue.
  • Difficulty breathing: If your cat is having difficulty breathing, such as wheezing, coughing, or rapid breathing, it could signify a more serious respiratory problem.
  • Loss of appetite or lethargy: If your cat's sneezing is accompanied by a loss of appetite, reduced energy levels, or increased lethargy, it may suggest an underlying illness that requires attention.

Diagnosing Serious Cat Sneezing

When the sneezing is serious, your veterinarian will employ a comprehensive approach to diagnose the cause. 

They will conduct a thorough physical examination, assessing overall health and examining the nasal passages for abnormalities. Your cat's medical history will be considered, and additional tests like blood work or nasal swabs may be recommended to identify infectious agents. 

Imaging studies, such as X-rays, will detect tumors or abnormalities, while rhinoscopy with a small camera can provide detailed visualization of the nasal passages. These diagnostic measures will help your vet determine the underlying cause and develop an appropriate treatment plan.

Treatment Options for Your Sneezing Cat

The treatment options for cat sneezing vary depending on the diagnosed cause. 

If allergies are the underlying issue, management strategies may involve identifying and avoiding allergens whenever possible. In some cases, your veterinarian or allergist may recommend antihistamines or immunotherapy to help alleviate allergy symptoms and provide relief. 

When it comes to bacterial or viral respiratory infections, medications such as antibiotics or antiviral drugs may be prescribed to specifically address the infectious agents involved.

When a foreign object is identified as the culprit, the object may need to be safely removed under veterinary supervision. 

Additionally, supportive care measures can play a significant role in providing relief and promoting healing. This can include gentle nasal rinses or saline solutions to flush the nasal passages, as well as ensuring a humidified environment to soothe irritated respiratory tissues.

Your veterinarian will tailor the treatment approach based on the diagnosed cause and your cat's unique needs. They will consider factors specific to your cat's situation to develop a personalized treatment plan. 

How to Help Your Sneezing Cat

Here are some tips to help your sneezing cat and promote their respiratory health:

  • Maintain cleanliness: Regularly clean your cat's bedding, litter box, and living areas to reduce dust, dander, and irritants.
  • Minimize allergen exposure: Take steps to minimize your cat's exposure to known allergens like pollen or dust mites. Make necessary adjustments to their surroundings.
  • Vaccinations: Ensure your cat is up to date with vaccinations to protect against common viral infections that can cause respiratory issues.
  • Dental care: Take care of your cat's oral health through regular brushing and dental checkups. Dental problems can contribute to sneezing.

By following these preventative measures and providing a safe and clean environment, you can reduce the likelihood of cat sneezing and support their overall respiratory well-being.


If your cat's sneezing persists or becomes concerning, seek expert advice from a veterinarian. Working with a caring professional, you can uncover the reason behind the sneezing and find customized solutions for your cat's comfort and relief. Remember, a veterinarian is your trusted partner in helping your cat enjoy a healthier and happier life, free from troublesome sneezes.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is normal sneezing in cats?

Occasional sneezing in cats is a normal part of their respiratory system. It serves as a mechanism to clear irritants, such as dust or pollen, from their nasal passages. Just like humans, cats may experience the occasional sneeze as they go about their daily activities. If you notice your feline friend letting out an occasional "achoo," there's no cause for concern. 

What can I give my cat for sneezing?

For sneezing in cats, it's important to consult a veterinarian to determine the underlying cause and appropriate treatment. Based on the diagnosis, your vet may recommend medications, such as antihistamines or antibiotics. Avoid giving any over-the-counter medicines without professional guidance, as they may harm your cat's health.

Can I give my cat Benadryl for sneezing?

Benadryl is sometimes used for chronic allergies in cats, but it's essential to consult a veterinarian for proper guidance. The dosage and suitability of Benadryl vary depending on your cat's specific condition and overall health. Your vet will provide expert advice to ensure the safe and appropriate use of Benadryl or suggest alternative treatments to address your cat's sneezing.

What can I give my cat for allergies?

Consult your veterinarian for appropriate allergy treatments for your cat, including medications like antihistamines, steroids, or immunotherapy. Avoid giving over-the-counter medications without professional guidance. Your vet will provide personalized advice to alleviate your cat's allergy symptoms safely and effectively.

Can I get sick from my cat sneezing on me?

The chances of getting sick from your cat sneezing on you are low. While there is a small risk of transmission through direct contact, it is uncommon. If you have any concerns or experience unusual symptoms, consult a healthcare professional for advice.