What Causes a Cat to Sneeze?


If your cat just sneezes once and a while, it probably is not a reason for your concern. A cat can sneeze just as a person sometimes sneezes due to dust or a piece of lint tickling its nose. However, if your cat sneezes all the time you should consider taking it for a check-up to a licensed veterinarian, especially if the sneezing is accompanied by other symptoms. What else causes a cat to sneeze?


  • Symptoms in your cat that look like a cold to you such as sneezing, coughing, wheezing, drooling, or a runny nose, can be indicators of an upper respiratory infection. If your cat has an upper respiratory infection, it will need antibiotic treatment therapy to get well again. Sneezing accompanied by chronic coughing may indicate cat influenza, internal parasites, or heart disease. You cannot know for sure unless you have your cat examined.


  • Keep your cat food and water dishes clean by washing them daily with soap and water. Prevent fleas from living on your cat. Cats can develop allergy symptoms to fleas and flea collars that can cause sneezing. Keep vaccinations up to date for Feline Herpes Virus-1 (FHV-1), and Feline Calicivirus (FCV). These diseases cause cat flu symptoms more often than anything else does. While your cat is ill, keep the water dish full of fresh water, and provide high quality food. Run a humidifier if your cat seems congested to help clear its nasal passages. Get antibiotics if your cat does not show improvement in a few days. Allow your cat to rest most of the time just as you do when you are ill.


  • If your cat is elderly or still a young kitten and shows signs of illness do not wait to seek treatment, contact your veterinarian. You should also seek urgent care if your cat stops drinking water and eating. You cat can become dehydrated quickly and perish. Be aware that using a cat boarding facility while vacationing may expose your cat to illnesses and viruses. Make sure your cat has vaccinations up to date before boarding.


  • If your cat has fleas, they can cause discomfort while they feed on its blood, but fleas can also cause anemia in cats and a heavy infestations can kill a kitten. Cats can be allergic to flea saliva and display allergic reactions that may include sneezing, watery eyes, or a runny nose. The allergy can cause excessive scratching that may result in self-mutilation. Fleas also transmit tapeworms between pets.

Expert Insight

  • The normal rectal temperature for a cat is 101.5°F or 38.5°C. Gently insert a thermometer into the rectum for the time recommended on the thermometer. When a cat runs a higher temperature, it is a sign of illness or infection just as it is in a human. A fluctuating temperature should cause concern and a veterinary visit.

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  • Photo Credit Julia Fuller
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