Jump to section

What is Sneezing?

Sneezing is a common occurrence in cats and she may just have a tickle in her nose, but many times your cat is suffering from an upper respiratory infection or feline virus. If your cat is just sneezing one or two times once in awhile, it is probably nothing. However, if she is sneezing often and has a runny nose and eyes, your cat may be allergic to something in the home such as dust mites or cleaners. There are many other causes of sneezing, but some of the most common include:

  • Upper respiratory infection
  • Fungal infection such as cryptococcosis or aspergillosis
  • Herpes virus
  • Feline calicivirus
  • Feline leukemia
  • Allergies
  • Nasal polyps

If your cat just sneezes a few times once in awhile, you should not worry about it. Just wait and see if any other symptoms develop. However, if she is sneezing constantly, has red, runny eyes, discharge from the nose, increased body temperature, appetite and weight loss, swelling of the face, nosebleed, drooling, or lethargy, you should take her to the veterinarian.

Why Sneezing Occurs in Cats

Cats with flat faces such as Persians, Himalayans, Munchkins, and Scottish Folds are more susceptible to all kinds of respiratory issues.

Upper Respiratory Infection

An upper respiratory infection may be caused by any number of viruses such as chlamydia or bordetella, but often turns into a secondary bacterial infection so it is usually treated as such.

Fungal Infection

Fungal infections are not seen often in cats due to their immune system, but sometimes, a cat can breathe in the spores from a fungus such as cryptococcosis or aspergillosis. These are both quite rare, but the cause is usually from inhaling spores around pigeon droppings.

Herpes Virus

Cats are able to catch herpes from other cats with the virus and it is common in cats who spend a lot of time outside. The virus is known to go into remission and recur during times of stress. There is no cure and it is not contagious to humans.

Feline Calicivirus

Feline calicivirus is a common and extremely contagious virus that spreads between cats through direct contact. It usually only affects the mouth where it causes ulcers, but it is also known to affect the respiratory tract. It can affect both indoor and outdoor cats but is more common in cats that live in multi-cat households.

Feline Leukemia

This is the second leading cause of death in cats, affects about 3% of all cats, and is fatal in 85% of infected felines within the first three years of transmission. Feline leukemia attacks the immune system and can also cause anemia. This virus is passed from other cats through bodily fluids such as saliva, blood, urine, and feces. Cats in multicat households and outdoor cats have a higher risk of contracting feline leukemia.

Allergies

Although allergies are not uncommon in cats, it usually affects the skin rather than the respiratory system. However, cats that show sensitivities in other ways (dermatitis, vomiting, itching) are more susceptible to respiratory allergic reactions. With the sneezing, your cat will probably also have red eyes, sometimes runny, and agitation.

Nasopharyngeal Polyps

Nasal polyps are not common in cats but have been seen in cats that previously had upper respiratory infections. It is just a mass of tissue in the upper respiratory tract that usually affects kittens and young cats. If your cat is having trouble breathing, shakes her head, and has difficulty in swallowing, they may have nasal polyps.

arrow-up-icon

Top

What to do if your Cat is Sneezing

If your cat has other signs besides sneezing such as runny nose, red irritated eyes, fever, breathing trouble, loss of appetite, weight loss, and malaise, you need to see your veterinary health provider right away. Upper respiratory infections usually need to be treated with antibiotics due to the probability of a bacterial infection. A fungal infection will be treated with fungal medication, allergies can be treated with antihistamines such as Benadryl (given by your veterinarian), and nasal polyps may be removed if they continue to grow or do not go away on their own. Herpes and leukemia do not have cures, but they can be treated with supportive care until it is gone.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Prevention of Sneezing

To prevent upper respiratory infections, you should keep your cat away from sick cats. In other words, try not to make any trips to the groomer or kennel during the high point of the season (winter). Keep your cat up to date with her immunizations. The vaccinations for cats include feline leukemia virus, herpes (rhinotracheitis), and calicivirus, among others. In addition, some veterinarians recommend adding L-lysine or other supplements to prevent other illnesses and increase immunity. Also, be sure to bring your cat for regular veterinary visits.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Cost of Sneezing

The cost of cat sneezing can range from no cost for just a tickle in the nose to several thousand dollars for an upper respiratory infection. It depends on the cause of the sneezing. If your cat has a feline calicivirus infection, treatment may cost around $350 while medical therapy for a fungal infection could average $1200.

arrow-up-icon

Top

*Wag! may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Items are sold by the retailer, not Wag!.

Sneezing Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

question-icon-cta

Ask a Vet

dog-name-icon

Lion

dog-breed-icon

European Shorthair

dog-age-icon

3 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Sneezing
Runny Nose
Sneeze

My cat come to our house 3 weeks ago and even when we got him, he was sneezing and his ear seemed infected. A week later he was feeling much better he gained weight. But lately he has been sneezing a lot, has a runny nose and eyes. Today he was playing with my sister and bit her during the game and then his gums were bleeding but only for a short period of time (few seconds) but he has the habit of biting anything he can. He has been playing, eating and sleeping as much as usual. I'm concerned because I have heard that white cats with blue eyes are very weak when it comes to sickness

Sept. 22, 2018

Lion's Owner

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Jack

dog-breed-icon

Domestic long hair

dog-age-icon

10 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Sneezing

My 10 year old cat has frequent sneezing attacks that has been going on for maybe over a year. At first I thought he just had a little cold, but then I started realizing it doesn't seem to be improving at all. He sneezes a lot which causes nose discharge at the time, but seems to appear normal in color. He does not have any other symptoms except vomiting one time about twice a week to every other day. In the home is me, my 5 year old son, and another cat who is 12.

July 25, 2018

Jack's Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

1 Recommendations

Possible reasons for this problem might be allergies, bacterial or fungal infections, or growths or tumors in the nasal cavities. Since I can't see Jack, it would be a good idea to have him seen by a veterinarian who can examine him and assess his breathing and nasal passages.

July 25, 2018

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Buddy

dog-breed-icon

DOMESTIC

dog-age-icon

10 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Excessive Sneezing

My cat sneezes excessively for about 2 weeks (with no other symptoms) and then I take him to the vet. They prescribe him antibiotics and after taking them for 1 week, the sneezing subsides for about 1-2 months. Then it all starts over again. This has been going on for about 1.5 years. He is about 10 yrs old (black/white long hair domestic) and is in otherwise overall good health. What could this be and what should I do? He is starting to sneeze again. BTW, he goes outside during the daytime but is indoors at night. I have ruled out anything entering the nose, such as foxtails, etc.

July 13, 2018

Buddy's Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

There are many reasons that Buddy may be doing this. He may have allergies, or a bacterial or fungal infection, and the only way to rule out a foreign body in the nose would be to have a CT scan of his head. It is possible that he has a poylp or chronic problem, and the antibiotics make any infection that is happening go away until it happens again. Buddy may need further testing, or you and your veterinarian may decide that the current situation is acceptable. He might benefit from antihistamines when he first starts sneezing. All those things are worth discussing with your veterinarian to see if you can get to the bottom of this problem.

July 13, 2018

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Beebs

dog-breed-icon

undetermined breed from a feral gruop

dog-age-icon

8 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Watery Eyes After Sneezing
Unexplained Sneezing

If his only symptom is sneezing and occasionally clear runny tears what would you do. He eats, drinks water, goes to the bathroom and does not act sick. He is under stress from 2 new cats and people living in the house. The female cat has attacked him several times and he is very fearful in his own house now. He has spent some long periods under my bed hiding because he is afraid. It is dusty under the bed. He is up to date on his Feline 4 in 1 (FVRCP+FeLv) vaccinations. He is 8 years old had all his vaccination when he was a kitten. He has never been sick. He baths himself,likes to do his usual morning routine. His coat is shiny and he purrs when I comb and brush him. I can use the soft brush around his mouth nose and eyes and he likes it. He will purr while I do this. I did change his dry food from Blue Buffalo Wilderness to Blue Buffalo Healthy Aging Life Source Bits. He has been on the new food since June 5th. He also eats canned wet food. He has never had a problem with the canned food. We do not have pigeons where we live on the east coast of southern FL. Could he have a cold or allergies from all the rain? We do not use the air condition inside the house. Could it be from the stress of the strange people and cats in the house? I not sneezing because of them, but I am having a hard time with my General anxiety disorder due to this. He is my Emotional support Animal so we are very close to each other . I not sneezing. I am trying not to cry and I am staying away from the other people in the house. Please help us.

June 17, 2018

Beebs' Owner

answer-icon

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Sneezing and watery eyes are general symptoms by may be related to allergies, chemical irritants, infections among other causes; without giving him a thorough check and a listen to his respiratory tract I couldn’t say for certain. Allergies are a possibility and you may try cetirizine at 5mg per day to see if there is any improvement, otherwise I would recommend visiting a Veterinarian to be on the safe side Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

June 17, 2018

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Trudy

dog-breed-icon

Domestic long hair

dog-age-icon

8 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Sneezing

My cat Trudy has started having tiny sneeze attacks without discharge from eyes or nose.I took her to the vet very soon after I got her and the vet checked her lungs and said it sounded good. She moved from a house to a tiny studio with only one big window. I try to open the window daily to let the air ventilate but I don't know if it's making the air quality worse or better because my apartment has a huge dust problem outside - all our porches get layers of dust within a day after cleaning.I tried cleaning the inside of my house at least so it's less dusty and I just purchased a vacuum for pets but I don't even know if it's the dust that's causing it.

dog-name-icon

Damien

dog-breed-icon

Bengal

dog-age-icon

4 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Sneezing With Fur In Mucus

My male cat is currently 4yrs. He has been sneezing for over a year plus now, it sometimes has mucus, but there is fur in the mucus. I did bring him to the vet at the start, he got treated for fungal infections didn't work, then they say it cold be a feline thing that's for life so only needs vitamin for life, which does not make his issue better. But I find when I change his food brand he does not sneeze for a week then suddenly starts. Some food make him sneeze more. It does not pass to my other cats. He still plays, eats and still weighs 6kg(+/-) Bengal mix

dog-name-icon

Bubby

dog-breed-icon

Siberian

dog-age-icon

1 Year

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Sneezing

Bad sneezing/ coughing First the vet thought fur balls Then treated for allergies Then X-ray of lungs. No problems Then treated for flu No runny nose Vet says Breathing sound seems good During all these meds. The symptoms seem to stop But started again after all meds stopped The cat still has bad symptoms

dog-name-icon

Lulu

dog-breed-icon

tabby

dog-age-icon

5 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Sneezing

My Lu has just started sneezing the last 2 days. It's not constant but when she does sneeze it's quite a few times. It stops then a few hours later it happens again. I've tried to figure out if it's something that's irritating her but I have not been able to pin point it to any thing specific except maybe the central air since it has been hot out the air has been running for the last week. She has no runny nose or eyes, no discharge and is eating drinking and using her litter box as normal.

dog-name-icon

Rex

dog-breed-icon

tabby

dog-age-icon

2 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Sneezing

I got a cat named Milo from the shelter. He had all of his shots and was already neutered when I got him. I noticed he was sneezing so I brought him to the vet, which they diagnosed it as an Upper Respiratory Infection and they gave me some nasal drops and pills to help him.I tried keeping him away from my other cat as well as I could, but they always want to play. My older cat Rex ended up getting the same thing so the vet told me to give him the medication left over. Rex is taking the nasal drops like a champ, but when it comes to the pill, he can take it, but then he just sneezes constantly for about 10-15 seconds and today I noticed he started drooling excessively, and it started to get foamy. What should I do? What is wrong with him?

How can we help your pet?