Why Is My Cat Sneezing? What It Means And How To Stop It

Cat sneezing is equal parts adorable and disgusting, especially if they decide to sneeze in your face. All joking aside, cat sneezing isn’t a good thing; just like for us humans, it can be a sign of something worse. Fortunately, there’s plenty you can do. Check out our guide below if you’d like to know more about what causes a cat sneezing fit.

4 Things That Encourage Cat Sneezing

So, if you didn’t know, cat sneezing is basically the same as human sneezing. Your cat’s trying to clear its pretty little nose, because something is making them feel stuffy. Yes, cat nasal congestion is a real thing. Let’s take a look at what could be causing it.

Dust and Dirt

Just like people, sometimes cats sneeze for ‘no reason’. It’s not necessarily a sign of infection, or anything else more serious. Next time your cat has a sneezing fit, check to see whether the room or floor is particularly dusty. Few people dust their homes anymore, and in older homes dust and dirt can build up in air conditioning vents or in the crawlspace.

Alternatively, it might be their own dander that’s irritating their nose. This is especially the case for breeds with long hair, like Persians, Birmans or ragdoll cats. You can keep dander at bay through regularly brushing your cat with a high-quality brush.

Can Cats Get Colds…? (Cat URI)

Can cats get colds? Of course they can! If your cat is sneezing a lot more often than it used to, that could be a sign of a cold. Medically, it’s referred to as an ‘upper respiratory infection’ or cat URI. Just like for humans, there are plenty of reasons why your cat might have one. It can be a sign of bacterial infection of the lungs, or as you probably know it, pneumonia. The bacterial infection inflames the lungs and respiratory system, which can make it difficult for your cat to breathe. If you’ve ever had a chest infection, you’ll know what that’s like.

It could also be the result of a viral infection such as the feline herpes virus. Outdoor cats can easily catch the feline herpes virus from exposure to other infected cats. The virus stays with them over time, flaring up occasionally due to reasons like stress. The condition isn’t contagious to humans, so you can’t catch it from your cat. Unsurprisingly, plenty of cats are exposed to the virus over the course of their lifetime. It’s characterized by repeated sneezing attacks, conjunctivitis, lesions and ulcers around the eyes, nervousness, fever, depression and lethargy. So if your cat is experiencing these symptoms too, it might be the feline herpes virus.

Cat Nasal Congestion

Cats can get both rhinitis and sinusitis, conditions that affect the nose and sinuses respectively. Cat nasal congestion is the same as human nasal congestion, where the nose and/or the sinuses are blocked and stuffy. Contrary to popular belief, this isn’t because of excess mucus or dirt. It’s because the nasal cavity/sinuses are actually inflamed and enlarged. That makes the space smaller, tighter and stuffy. Not nice.

Cat nasal congestion isn’t just characterized by sneezing, though. You’ll also notice that your cat’s breathing is more forced and heavier. Just like you, when you have nasal congestion, they might be struggling to breathe. Fortunately, you have a few options to tackle your cat’s congestion. You can buy decongestants for cats online, for example. You can either get one that’s pure saline, or even use Benadryl. Believe it or not, but plenty of vets recommend Benadryl for cats. If you’re planning on giving your cat Benadryl for congestion, talk with your vet before you do.

Irritants and Allergies

No, your cat can’t be allergic to cats, and your cat can’t be allergic to you. But they might get hay fever! Irritants like pollen or chemicals in the air (e.g. deodorants or other sprays) can make your cat splutter and sneeze. If you think they might be reacting to a spray, try not spraying anything near your cat for a week or so. You might find that their sneeze goes away. If you think it might be the result of an allergy, your best bet is the vet. It could also be because of sensitivity to tobacco smoke or similar.

Cat Sneezing Remedies

Yes, there are cat cold remedies out there. If your cat just won’t stop sneezing, there are plenty of things that could help. Let’s take a look at a few.

  1. If you think your cat has feline herpes, the first thing you should know is that there isn’t a direct and permanent cure. But what you can do is help alleviate the symptoms of the condition. Lysine can help to prevent the virus reproducing, which reduces the severity of outbreaks as well as their frequency. You might also need a product to treat your cat’s conjunctivitis, which is a common co-symptom. Talk with your vet before administering any medicine to your pet.
  2. A humidifier can help alleviate symptoms of congestion, in both humans and animals. You won’t be able to make your cat sit above a bowl of steamy water, but you can create a better environment for their stuffy nose. Plus, a humidifier can come in handy when you have a cold, too.
  3. Like we mentioned above, Benadryl can help cats and dogs if they have allergies or stuffed noses. But like we said before, you absolutely have to consult a vet when it comes to dosage- be careful giving your pet any medicine.

When To Call a Vet

Sometimes, your cat just won’t stop sneezing, no matter what you do. If that’s the case, it might be worth talking to a vet. Nine times out of ten, it’s not going to be anything important; some cats are more sensitive to dander and pollutants, for example, and there’s often nothing that you can do about it. But knowledge is power, and you won’t know for sure what’s wrong until you talk with a vet.


Hi! My name is Jamie Fallon. I run Catmart.net, an online cat health and cat behavior resource. If I’m not sat in front of my PC—and I usually am—then I’m either spending time with my cats or my other half… Whoever jumps on me or asks me for food first!